Recap of chapter 2: Max and his family (I’ll just call them the Carvers from now on, seeing as it’s less of a mouthful) have started moving in to their new home, with a bit of making the house habitable on the side, and Max spots a statue garden behind the house that is going to be important later.
The chapter starts with Max waking up from a dream where a hazy figure is whispering in his ear. He wakes up to find no-one there (if there were, Max would probably already have serious problems). So, finding that he’s woken up just before dawn, with mist obscuring most of the view from his window, what does Max decide to do? Go and explore the statue garden. I would say that that’s the height of stupidity, but I have just finished reading House of Leaves, so it wouldn’t hold up. But seriously, why?
He gets to the garden’s fence and finds that the gate is fastened by an old padlock. Most people at this point turn around because they don’t want to be caught trespassing, but is Max like most people? No, he goes and breaks the padlock. What are the odds that someone still technically owns that garden? When he gets into the garden, he sees that the statues are all in the form of circus performers, surrounding the raised statue of a clown with its fist raised. He initially thinks that the statues are arranged in concentric circles, but soon realises that they actually make the six-pointed star that he saw on the gate; after realising this, he looks up to see the clown’s fist has opened. Getting understandably freaked out by this, he runs back home before anything else weird can happen. Now this is just a wild guess on my part, but I think that by opening the gate, Max might well have unleashed something that had been trapped in the garden: it also says the statues are all facing west, which is where the sun sets, so maybe it’s something to do with night-time. But again, that’s just me guessing, so please don’t give me any hints as to whether I’m right or wrong with this.
We rejoin Max when he’s eating breakfast with the rest of the Carver family. Mr Carver has apparently been rooting around in the garden shed for reasons that just seem to be along the lines of “because he could” and found some things of interest. The first is a couple of bikes which are old, but still in working order. So far, so ordinary. The other item is a projector along with a box of films. Now why do I get the feeling that this is going to be important further down the line? Maybe they’ll be like the films in the Navidson Record, full of documented horrors (except toned down a bit seeing as this is technically a “Young Adult” book). So after this revelation, Mr Carver goes to fix the boiler, leaving the sisters to leap at each other’s throats behind his back. It seems to have been set off by Alicia refusing to have breakfast while the cat is there, potentially shedding fur on every available surface like he shares a mentality with Garfield. Which leaves the elder sister to whine about the fact that her little sister gets away with more than she did at the same age. Granted, I can sympathise with that last bit a little, but it seems far too petty a thing to get so worked up about. All the while Max is still distracted by the freaky clown that he may or may not have unleashed upon the world. And so I end the chapter with an image of Tim Curry as It bounding round my brain. Because my brain automatically leaps to a pop-culture reference of some kind.
Again, a good chapter, but the switch from eerie to mundane was a bit too sudden for me. I generally prefer a bit more of a segue from freaky moving clown statue to mundane if a little dysfunctional family breakfast than a simple paragraph break. Maybe a mention of Max trying to get back to sleep or something?