…in which Beverley returns the Green Man, and Carrie gets suspicious…
One old photograph caught Carrie’s attention. It was of a young, pale girl in a dark dress, straw boater set winsomely on her tight ringlets, standing by a rose bush. She was staring up at the camera with a hooded expression, a twisted smile of secret knowledge on her face. There was something malevolent about it that sent a chill up Carrie’s spine.C. M. Rosens, The Crows, pp. 67-68
“That’s me, before I became Mrs Wend,” Mrs Wend said, peering over Carrie’s shoulder and making her jump. “Beverley Pendle I was then. I couldn’t be more than, oh, eighteen there. These are my sisters.” She pointed out a portrait of two girls, clearly an amateur’s early attempt but showing promise in the passages of paint. The perspective was a little off, but they told a story of a quiet girl with sad eyes and a proud, younger girl with a strong jaw. It was the swirling background that made Carrie uneasy, as if the painter had been trying to capture something they couldn’t quite see, something reaching for the girls with writhing, pale green coils.
If you’re interested in the trope indicated by the chapter heading, there’s a ‘Gothic Tropes’ post here that looks at it in more detail and introduces Beverley Wend as a character.
In this chapter we meet Katy Porter in a quick cameo appearance, blink and you miss her. Katy is a main character in Thirteenth along with her oldest brother Wes Porter (you’ll meet him later on in The Crows). They are Ricky’s cousins. You don’t learn anything specific about the family relationships in this novel, except later where it’s stated that Ricky’s parents look alike. So this isn’t really a spoiler, since there are worse things than tentacles to worry about in that clan.
CW: incestuous family tree
The story of how Nathaniel Montague Porter (Nathan) met and married Deirdre Wend is told in my novella, The Reluctant Husband. You will notice this novella states that the first batch of spawn were actually born in 1939, but this is a truncated family tree. The ones missing off the genealogy above (which just needed to show the quads of 1949 and the triplets of 1952 for the purposes of this branch), run from 1939 (quads), 1943 (quins), and 1946 (triplets).
Marrying first cousins is legal in the U.K. and parts of Europe, and is not considered incestuous. Incest here is defined as within the same immediate family group or between uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, though the latter definition didn’t stop the Habsburgs. So Charlotte and Ian Porter’s marriage is technically legal, although because both sets of parents are siblings, this is also… a bit questionable. George and Letitia’s marriage is obviously not legal, but they have the same surname anyway and Lettie goes by ‘Mrs’ after a formal ceremony at home.
Despite the fact that the family almost exclusively marry each other with one or two notable exceptions (Ruby Wend, who married ‘that Youngblood chap’, for example [Ch 2]), the family itself is comprised of five distinct branches. The Wends are the main branch that spawned the Wend-McVeys and the Porters, in-grafting extra genes, while the Shaws and the Foremans do not currently have any branches who have married beyond the family. This is generally because the generations tend to reflect the personalities of each matriarch, descended as they are from one of the three Pendle sisters. The Shaws are peace-keepers or complacent in their situations, the Foreman family think they are the superior line and are therefore the most inbred, while Beverley Wend, still alive and kicking, has a more pragmatic view of the bloodline situation and something of a romantic streak. Just because she never got her HEA, doesn’t mean she actively discourages her spawn from theirs, even if she does complain about them a lot.
The Youngbloods (mentioned in Ch 2) are… actually already blood relatives. Beverley’s mother was a Youngblood. Obviously by now this is a distant relative, but it’s not someone entirely unknown to the family. I may explore Ruby and Tom Youngblood in later stories, as Tom Youngblood (based in Lancaster) has a biotech company and partners with Ruby’s cousin, Barry Wend-McVey, who has an underground lab making designer drugs. Both are interested in manufacturing the mutations that the clan members have, only without rituals and shrines and all that palava. There’s a possibility that Tom Youngblood’s company and research is connected to Avery Medical in Chicago, Illinois. If you want to know what that’s about, Avery Medical is the property of Nita Pan, and features in their novella Under Your Knife (forthcoming).
You’ll learn a lot more about the family in Thirteenth.