Hey guys, back again after another mini-break. To be fair, I was away this time, but sorry for the wait anyway. As a recap, we’ve just seen one of the home videos, which shows a walk up to the statue garden, and Alicia has revealed that she’s seen the clown in her dreams before. Presumably this will be the chapter where they go diving.
The chapter starts with Alicia waking up to find the cat staring at her, causing her to reflect on the cat’s general creepiness. A bit of a surprise start for the reader too (or at least me anyway), as Max has thus far been the only point-of-view character used; maybe this signals that Alicia’s going to see things that Max can’t and will therefore be more important to the plot. Anyway, the cat’s now gone (possibly to plot with the freaky clown statue?). Alicia can’t get back to sleep and so ponders one of the important questions that plagues a teenage girl: what to wear? (Although contrary to the narrative, I would think that 2 hours is more than enough time to pick an outfit in). But anyway, she meets Roland and they both seem to like each other, which is very cute and awkward on Roland’s part anyway. Although part of me is wondering where Irina is; maybe I just got confused over the dialogue.
So they get to the beach, and decide to stop off at the fisherman’s hut that Roland has fixed up for himself. From the description, it’s rather charming: quite nautical, with a nice sense of cosiness and a comfortable amount of clutter. They then move on to the actual diving, which sounds scary to be perfectly honest (although my fear of the sea may have something to do with it); quite why you would want to dive down to a place where the current can sweep you out to sea is beyond me, and considering the case of drowning the place has already seen, it seems a bit too close for comfort. While Max gets ready to go diving, he notices Roland checking out Alicia as she changes into her swimsuit (although considering she was probably wearing it under her dress anyway, it can’t have been a long look), which prompts an unexpected protective streak in Max. But anyway, it passes quickly enough and Max is just asking a few things before they begin, just basic things really.
So Max gets his first glance of the sunken ship, which is named the Orpheus. Not a terribly auspicious name really, considering the namesake’s unsuccessful trip to the Greek underworld. Oh well, that’s life. The Orpheus as it is now is coated with algae but utterly devoid of other living creatures, which is apparently quite unusual; does that mean that those weird castles that people buy for their fish tanks are based on shipwrecks? In any case, Roland swims down to the wreck, causing Max a fair bit of anxiety, resurfacing with an old sextant. As Max watches Roland dive again, he notices that the flag attached to the ship’s stern has the same six-pointed star as the statue garden. Bad omen, maybe?
Back on the safety of land, Max explains to Roland what he’s seen and tries to persuade him that this is all real. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what he’s getting so worked up about yet though; true it’s rather creepy, but nothing’s really happened yet apart from the statue moving. Anyway, talking about the wreck prompts Alicia to ask about Roland’s grandfather, who was the only survivor of the wreck. Roland then reveals that his grandfather has talked to him about the symbol before as well. So this story about the shipwreck could finally get us on the way to finding out what the statue garden is all about.
Except that we now switch to Irina’s point of view, back at the new family house. Odd, and a little annoying, but after House of Leaves it’s nothing I can’t handle. In any case, Irina’s story seems more interesting at the moment, as she can hear a voice somewhere in the house. She ends up locating the source as the wardrobe, which she decides to lock because the voices are scaring her. I wonder what House of Leaves would have been like if someone like Irina was the main character; certainly there wouldn’t have been so many investigations without a way of getting back. Anyway, her mother calls her to help with one of the chores, but before Irina can leave, the door slams shut and the wardrobe door unlocks behind her. Excuse me while I find a blanket to hide under.
We now cut back to Max, Alicia and Roland. Because of course we really needed the peril of a little girl in the backs of our minds, didn’t we? So Roland tells them a little about how he started living with his grandfather in the first place, as a sort of segue or introduction to his grandfather’s story about the shipwreck. So it turns out that the ship was run by a Dutchman lacking somewhat in financial sense, who took on some shady business in order to pay off gambling debts. One night he ends up losing his shirt to a Mr Cain, who agrees to pay off his debt on the condition that he transport Mr Cain’s circus across the Channel (so presumably this is England after all). Roland’s grandfather seems to have had some unfinished business with the aforementioned Mr Cain, so he stows away on the ship in order to keep on their trail. The ship crashes (surprise surprise) and everyone drowns, apart from Roland’s grandfather, who was stowing away in one of the lifeboats. The authorities discover him and go to collect the dead the next morning, but find that there are no bodies to be found. So we’re now upping the creepy factor somewhat and faced with yet more questions and loose ends. Now this is the sort of writing that I was looking for: the supernatural elements in his other books were supported by a very strong mystery that’s solved by good, old-fashioned detective-work/snooping, which I thought was missing somewhat from this story. And now I have it, so I’m a very happy girl. At this point, it looks as though the statue garden could be a memorial of some sort, but knowing the supernatural elements so far, that seems far too mundane.
We go back to Irina, who has failed to force the door open and thus stares helplessly as the wardrobe door opens to reveal . . . the cat. Except that she can see something else in the back of the wardrobe that smiles at her and calls to her. She screams and hurls the door open, hurtling down the stairs to get away.
We now switch to Andrea Carver’s point of view, who only sees her daughter jump from the top of the stairs with a look of terror on her face. Every parent’s nightmare is then acted out as she lands badly and tumbles down the rest of the stairs. With her child unconscious and bleeding in her arms, she sees the cat at the top of the stairs, staring down at them both. And that is where the story ends (apart from the mum calling the doctor, but that’s the more logical conclusion as opposed to the dramatic conclusion).
Finally, I feel like I’m reading the Zafon tale that I know and love. I really can’t think of much that I can really fault it with, so I’m really happy about that.