Gothic Fiction, Pagham-verse, Podcast

Podcast S01E21 ~ Chapter 19 Up Now!

Chapter 19 of The Crows is online today!

CW for gore, brutal loss of parental figure, burning something of sentimental value, alcoholic relapse POV


CHAPTER 19: LET THE PAST BURN

Links on my podcast page.

Chapter 19: Let The Past Burn

…in which things unravel and Ricky says goodbye…

“Burn it down.” 

The dread pooled in Guy’s sore stomach, whispering that this was, obscurely, his fault. He could hear Beverley in his hand.  

“Guy? Guy, answer me.” 

 He raised the phone back to his ear. “Burn… what down?” 

“Fairwood House, of course.” 

“Burn The Crows?” Guy repeated.  

“Set her on fire,” Beverley said, in tones that brooked no argument. “I’ll deal with the spirit. But you deal with the house.” 

“But…”  

Beverley’s rasp scythed through his head, loaded with years of disappointments and the endless rebellions of her spawn.  

Not you too.” 

Guy struggled upright, lurching away from the wall. “I – burn it down? I can’t, it’s cursed…” 

“For the last time, Guy, it’s not cursed. That’s a story. There’s a protection glamour on it that only affects us, and that’s real old blood magic, it can’t hurt you. It’s a lot of things, that house, but it can’t curse you.” Beverley sighed. “It’s under your skin, isn’t it? Calls to you, somehow. I know. I’ve heard it, too. Now go over there, take some petrol, and set the damn thing on fire. That will take the strength out of this spirit, and it’ll be therapeutic for you. Leave the girl in there, if you like, it will serve her right. Meddling like that, this is her fault.” 

~ C. M. Rosens, The Crows, pp. 396-7

Loss of father/parental figures is a big theme in this book, and Guy gets the rough end of that on-page in these final chapters. I didn’t write Guy as a ‘villain’ or even really much of an antagonist – he is, like everyone else in Beverley’s orbit, a tool she uses to get her own agenda across. Not that Beverley really has an ‘agenda’ beyond maintaining the status quo.

However, this chapter is also centred on another act of burning that catapults a character into another phase of their life, and is an act of setting the past on fire.

In this book, I guess moving forward or forcing yourself to move beyond things you deem to be holding you back comes with fairly brutal actions and doesn’t always have the effect you want. The impact on you is often not the one you anticipated. It can leave you vulnerable to stuff you didn’t expect. Especially if you have the self-awareness of a tea towel, which is definitely Ricky Porter’s problem, and is the main reason he’s the real ‘damsel in distress’ figure in the novel. I kind of think of him a bit like Rapunzel in a lot ways, and I had that image in my head when I was drafting.

Most of the characters are in some way ‘trapped at home’, whether mentally/figuratively or actually, and their independence is hampered by the long shadows of their upbringing or their parental figures or things buried in their pasts that they haven’t dealt with.

I don’t know if you agree with that? Feel free to chime in by commenting on this post or chiming in on Twitter/Instagram using the hashtag #TheCrows.

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