Wow, still reeling a bit from the twist at the end of the last chapter. Oddly enough, while I thus far prefer the other two novels of Zafon’s that I’ve read, I prefer the twist in this one; while The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game were fabulous examples of storytelling, the former gave the reader to many clues regarding the twist and the latter gave too few clues (although this is just my opinion). Anyway, so last chapter we found out that Roland is actually Jacob Fleischmann, which still leaves some unanswered questions, mainly those of 1) what actually happened when Jacob “drowned”? and 2) why has it taken Cain so long to actually try and take him away?
So Victor and Max seem to be taking the impeding crisis fairly well, by drinking tea. How very British. Anyway, Max confronts Victor with his knowledge that Roland is actually Jacob, hopefully prompting a few answers to the few remaining questions that we have. That prompting only gets stronger by Max effectively blackmailing Victor by only promising to tell Victor where Roland is if he’s told the truth; while this is certainly an effective way of getting the rest of the answers to this, it is a bit mean considering that Victor’s outright stated that Roland is in danger. So it turns out that pretty much everything up to Jacob’s birth was true, Victor just didn’t finish the story. So little Jacob was born and absolutely spoiled rotten, but Victor knew everything wasn’t quite right when he dreamed of Cain the night Jacob was born. Nothing much happened until Jacob was five, when he got lost playing out the back of the house. After some frantic searching, Dr Fleischmann remembered that there was an abandoned animal enclosure behind the house, which is where he found Jacob. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only thing that he found there: for reasons unknown, the statues has appeared there, signalling that all was not well. So Fleischmann went to Victor and made him promise that if anything were to happen to either of the parents, he would continue to look after Jacob. Max then interjects to find out what happened on the night of Jacob’s drowning. The night of the drowning, a large storm starts to brew and the similarity to the storm that wrecked the Orpheus caused Victor to realise that Jacob was in danger. Sure enough, Jacob is walking along the beach, towards the same watery creature that tried to drown Roland that day. Victor wonders why Jacob’s parents aren’t trying to save him, when he looks around to see that the other statues are holding them back on the porch. So anyway, Jacob is pulled beneath the water but Victor dives in to save him. By the time they get him back to the surface, however, the boy had stopped breathing and there was no sign of a pulse. In a surprise turn of events though, Jacob wakes up again, in shock and hardly remembering his own name. At this point, Eva Fleischmann asks Victor to take care of Jacob for them, as he’ll never be safe as long as he lives with them. So he takes the boy home, the Fleischmanns leave and are never seen in the town again. A year later, Victor hears that Dr Fleischmann had died from an infected dog bite and he has no idea what has happened to Eva. For all those years, Victor looked after Jacob, renaming him Roland and creating a new past for what he can’t remember anymore. In a final twist to the story, it turns out that Jacob’s tomb was put there by Cain, so that one day he can actually be buried there. At this point, Max realises what an idiot he’s been spending so much time on this new information and that Roland is probably in extreme danger, as well as his sister by extension.
So we now switch to Alicia’s point of view as she wakes up to find that the storm has hit shore and is really getting violent. She also notices that there’s a rather worrying amount of mist that brings with it the sound of whispering voices, prompting her to shut the door, like a smart person. This wakes Roland up, who watches as the mist curls in through the gaps in the door and pulls Alicia through. He goes to try and save her, but is blocked by Cain. Who is again, dispatched in one punch. Anyway, the mist starts dragging Alicia away, with Roland following her and trying to get her back. But he’s knocked over by a wave, causing her to be dragged away. And this is where it gets interesting. In the light of the storm, Roland sees that Cain has brought the Orpheus to the surface, where Cain stands on the bridge, Alicia at his feet, taunting Roland to come up and get her if he doesn’t want to see her die. And with that, the chapter ends.
A pretty action-packed chapter, yet it didn’t really appeal to me as much as some of the earlier chapters, simply because a lot of the stuff that happened was filling in gaps and the villain setting up the final confrontation. While that is pretty exciting stuff, the heroes are, for the most part, pretty passive, which doesn’t quite sit right. In any case, a pretty good chapter, with what looks to be an epic final battle coming up (so long as Cain isn’t dispatched by a single punch again).