Aufwader’s Thoughts: After an unexpected hiatus, we’re back, belated but bushy-tailed, with November’s entry. This is another of my favourites in the Almanack calendar – a festive, mildly unnerving scene, reminiscent of the Guy Fawkes tradition but featuring an effigy of Jupiter in place of the Guy. I love the gleeful expressions on the mice’s faces as they watch the Lord of the Winter burn, knowing that he really is burning still, somewhere out in the cosmos.
The entry to accompany this illustration, dated, of course, the 5th, is also an interesting look at the aftermath of large-scale mouse trauma. The youngsters, too little to recall the Eternal Winter, have diminished that past horror into a raucous, celebratory ritual, while the older mice, the ones who were there, dammit, clutch their brasses at the memory. Remember, remember, the Day of Deliverance.
As always, there are many notable dates this month following our main plot, not least the discovery of Mabb’s altar by Gervase and the Starwife’s sentries. The image of those quivering squirrels coming across the gored corpse of old Dodder is the kind of grotesque scene that deserves a Penny-Dreadful-like engraving. I can just see their horrified little faces, and the lurid printed caption “Another Sacrifice Had Been Made In The Temple Of The Unholy Three!”
On a slightly more heartwarming note, I’ve always liked the four day spread of the Quilt Festival. There’s something so Brambly Hedge about all the mice gathering together for this most cosy of annual celebrations, but of course, being Robin Jarvis mice, they’re busy sewing in iron for good luck and rowan to keep evil at bay.
Finally, in the Rat Zodiac, we enter the Sign of Discord, and though it be Hobbish heathenry and though “kill-ems” apparently have ‘many friends, all dead’, I daresay I could do worse than share a sign with Black Ratchet.
Matt’s Thoughts: Now this is fascinating. Because I have never read the Almanack before this reread (so this is just a read for me!), I didn’t realise that the story of ‘Orace Baldmony was traced out in 1997 back in this Almanack (rather than appearing in Fleabee’s Fortune, where I first read about it.
There we go – so many intricate parts of the Deptford landscape floating around in Robin’s brain!
Highlights for me were the Nepwort story (I know it’s meant to be something that scares mice, but it is rather blackly comic, don’t you think?) and Widdershins Eve (which is so flat out bizarre, I can’t help but like it).
Clearly, there were plans also – in the current-day narrative part of the story – for some sort of return of the Raith Sidhe, but that one might just have to wait. Or be crowd-sourced. Or if Aufwader gets her way, never written at all so we can imagine how it all plays out!