Warning: Contains Spoilers!
The immortal splendor of the Tyrant of the Hollow Hill, wrapped in the nourishing flame of human innocence, was an injury to the eyes and made her feel faint. Never had the world seen anything so monumentally worshipful yet so wincingly cruel and repellent.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: The scene with the High Lady and the human child brings us neatly round, right back to Chapter 5 of Thorn Ogres, in which Gamiliel and his friends witness the Trooping Ride and see Rhiannon for the first time, the doomed infant in her arms. There’s myths a-plenty about babies being snatched by the fair folk, but most of them, as far as I’m aware, focus more on the human families now left with a fairy in the cradle, and don’t really tell us much about what becomes of the stolen, mortal children.
That Rhiannon should have been slowly leeching the life force from the child of Moonfire Farm is an interesting explanation, and if you really think about it, no less dire than the infant having been cooked and eaten by imps, or given to the Devil, or any number of other terrible fates recorded in Celtic folklore. After all, what ghastly death would befall the baby if he were ever to leave the Hill?
Matt’s Thoughts: I must say that the owl makes me curious. This sentence is fascinating: ‘Like everybody else in her realm, it feared her, yet that fear was matched in equal measure by love and adoration.’
First thing that’s interesting is simply that the owl is seemingly one of the most clever characters in the whole of the Hollow Hill. Certainly smart enough to know how all the politics of the place works and how easily it is to get killed. And yet, despite mounting evidence that Rhiannon completely operates in her own self-interest – and is freaking dangerous – the owl loves and adores her anyway.
Is there some sort of metaphor in here about people who enable toxic personalities?
Second interesting thing, especially because didn’t notice it until this chapter, is that the owl is genderless. For some reason, I had just assumed that it was a he-owl but scouring through this book I have only found it referred to as ‘the owl’ or ‘it’. Robin’s not one to use his words casually so I would be fascinated what his thinking was behind this decision.
Finally, I’m sure I wasn’t meant to make this mental connection at all, but Rhiannon’s cry of ‘No milk today’ immediately put me in mind of Herman’s Hermits …