Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘Drink whilst you can of my immortal loveliness,’ she commanded. ‘Remember it well, for you are doomed never to look on my beauty and splendor again.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Coming to this straight from Freax and Rejex is surreal. As I pass the medieval-esque ink drawings and arrive at the opening paragraphs describing the emerald glory of the faerie hill beneath a rosy dawn, I almost expect to feel a cold breath on the back of my neck and be transported to a strange alternate-Mooncaster in which the Holy Enchantress rules from her halls of stone, attended by her faithful Provost and defended by her fearsome spriggan guards.
But no Devil’s parody is this – Dark Waters of Hagwood was penned back in the 1990s, and waited (in crates?) for many years before Open Road picked it up. We’re back to solid, earnest Robin Jarvis middle-grade, with all the blindings and bloomerings it entails. Blessed be to that!
Matt’s Thoughts: I know the villains in Robin Jarvis are usually pretty nasty, but I think they do allow us different levels of detachment. I find it hard not to completely buy into the world of Dancing Jax, for instance, and thus I find the Ismus and Jangler pretty horrible bad guys.
But reading about Rhiannon I find blackly amusing. It’s like the reason gangster films keep getting made. When you throw in a sociopath who is capable of doing anything, it gives a sort of entertaining unpredictability to things.
In this one prologue alone, Rhiannon’s interaction with nearly every character is fraught with menace – the goblin nursemaid, the spriggan captain and the klurie. Ultimately it was the poor klurie who copped it in this case, but you felt like it could have been any of them.
Except maybe the owl. Maybe he’s a notch more useful than the others. Whatever his motives, he knows how Rhiannon works and can survive in a way nobody else can.
Which leads to my favourite paragraphs in recent Jarvis memory where Rhiannon feeds the librarian’s eyeballs to the owl in one paragraph and then the next paragraph contains a delightfully black use of the adverb ‘chewily’. Remember, this series started in Book 1 with cute little creatures who turn into squirrels and mice. And now, we’re not even into Chapter 1 of the second book and we’ve got chewy eyeballs.
We’re in for a fun ride.