Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘He will not mind if Nanna borrows this sharp slicer,’ she whispered. ‘Little Captain has so many already; he will not miss it.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: The spriggan guards are probably some of my favourite minor villains in Jarvis canon. I love their names (‘Wumpit’ is for some reason particularly hilarious) and their way of speaking (I get the feeling that Robin included Nanna Zingara’s tail collection just so he could use the word ‘snortle’). It also makes me laugh that they’re kind of lax at their job – in Thorn Ogres, the spriggans were these doom-laden bloodthirsty wights to be feared and reviled, but now that we’ve seen their regular working day, as it were, their fearsome reputation has lost some of its previous lustre.
And of course, the reveal about Nanna Zingara herself. Hands up who guessed? I had actually forgotten that particular plot twist when I described Rhiannon’s story as a kind of inverse Snow White, back in Thorn Ogres, but here we see the similarities pop up again. I almost expected her to offer the werlings poisoned apples, but what she has in store for them at the Pool of the Dead is probably going to be much worse.
Matt’s Thoughts: One does wonder, where did all this setup with the cart come from? It’s so elaborate, what with all the dead animal tails – and jars of worms – that it makes me wonder whether Rhiannon regularly gets disguised to see what is happening in the land. Does it let her explore areas outside of Hagwood when she wants to see what’s going on?
Another interesting point was the use of the little dragon statue. Or a ‘serpentlike creature’ … things like this do give the tantalising impression that this book just might be part of the larger Jarvis Universe.