Hey guys, back again for part 2. We left off last time just after Max and his family had arrived in their new town, without much in the way of weirdness yet, apart from an unnaturally smart cat and a clock that goes backwards.
So the chapter starts with a description of the new town and house. And to be quite honest, I’m a little confused. Having read a couple of Zafon’s novels, I automatically assumed that it would be set in Barcelona (or at least it would initially); the description of this place seems to be more quintessentially English, like Blackpool or Torquay maybe. So far though, we haven’t been told where this is set, so I’ll just have to alternate between the two I suppose. In any case, the town seems pleasant enough, although it is, of course, met with several different reactions: there’s the dad who’s wildly enthusiastic, little sister who regards it with “calm curiosity” (an oddly mature response for an 8 year old, but I suppose I’ll let it slide for now), big sister is sulking and mum is still strangely reticent. Why do I get the feeling that the mum will be psychic in some way? Or will this be yet another example of how adults are useless in the literary world?
The house is introduced and it sounds pretty enough, apart from the minor signs of wear and tear, which I suppose is inevitable when it’s right on the beach. We also find out about the house’s former owners, a surgeon from the city, his wife and, after a little while, their young son Jacob. After Jacob’s birth, the couple integrate themselves into the community and are well-liked. Until Jacob dies. Because we couldn’t see that coming. After the surgeon dies (presumably due to grief), his widow put the house up for sale, with Max’s family being the first actual people to buy it.
The family now arrive at the house, with Max’s dad knocking down a considerable length of their fence almost immediately. Hooray for auspicious starts. So their first view of their new home is…a room covered in dust that obviously hasn’t been cleared away in the 10 years that the house has stood empty. It’s not exactly the kind of welcome they’d been looking for, I’d imagine. That makes their first job cleaning the house out so that it’s actually habitable; I’m sure Alicia will love this, judging from the numerous irritating and unhelpful comments she’s made so far. At the end of the day, Max is given the extra duty of clearing the bedrooms of spiders, because Alicia’s making a fuss.
The spider hunt goes fairly well, as he’s helped initially by the cat, who eats a particularly big specimen then gives him evils. In checking the other rooms in his spider hunt, Max sees a garden of statues in the field behind the new house’s back garden. It’s quite badly overgrown and surrounded by a fence topped with six-pointed stars. Wait, isn’t the Star of David a six-pointed star? The garden’s Jewish? Or am I just being stupid? The chapter ends with his parents going out to get food, leaving him to take care of Irina. Why they couldn’t leave both of them in the care of Alicia, I don’t know. Unless she’s really rather useless, which I can fully believe. I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m picking on her, but thus far she’s embodying all that I hate in teenagers.
Anyway, overall another good chapter. Nothing special, but quite pleasant.