Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘I’d been sewing death into my marriage, you see; don’t need to be a knot witch to do that.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Yes! Whitby words! Chelp, fret, haar! (Well, they’re not exclusively Whitby words – ‘haar’ is also an east-of-Scotland thing) but the point remains that Mr Jarvis is introducing young readers to local dialect as skillfully as he ever has. In terms of local tradition, there’s also that wonderfully macabre anecdote about Nannie Burdon mistakenly bringing her wedding handkerchief to a wake, thus dooming her marriage. Between that, the ominous tea-leaf reading, and Martha’s mentions of, well, everything from the first Whitby trilogy, Lil seems to be getting a thorough education in Whitby folklore, and about time too!
I also like that the disparities between Lil’s time and Victorian Whitby are pointed out and made use of, rather than being glossed over. As a girl of 2017, Lil is of course going to be put off by Martha’s well-meaning assumptions that ‘every girl dreams of being a wife’ and that twelve years of age is not too young to begin planning one’s nuptials. This necessary disagreement both highlights the questionable attitudes of the time toward marriage and gender roles, and also furthers the plot by forcing Lil outside. There, she can use her phone for its last remaining purpose, and we get a little nod to the main plot, i.e., Verne Is Still Missing And Lil Has No Idea Where He Is But By Golly She’s About To Find Out.
Then, of course, there’s the set-piece of this chapter in the form of Grace’s walking corpse. How marvellously, gloriously, magnificently gothic. We expected nothing less from Mr Jarvis or, come to think of it, from Mister Dark. But what could the Marquess of Bagdale Hall want with an undead maiden, or indeed, with a zombified Verne? What fiendish devilry is he planning this time?
Matt’s Thoughts: This just gets increasingly brilliant. After so many jokes about a zombie apocalypse in the last couple of books (none of which came to fruition), we now have a re-animated corpse in the Witching Legacy. (You could possibly count Mister Dark in that category, but you know what I mean.) Or is Grace now Undead?
Either way, loving it. I thought for a moment that the flying carriage was a scene from the old 1931 Dracula, but that was my imagination. But I could see Dracula having a flying carriage, you know?
But it’s never good news when we have a fortune telling scene in a Jarvis novel: we know the drill now, Person A tells the fortune of Person B, leaves key bits out, looks worried. We are now filled with dread about what’s going to happen to Person B. In other words, they’re some of the absolute best bits in the Jarvis books – from the original prophecy of Eldritch and Orfeo on down.