This was a load of fun. The story Poppy Tomato Pym had always heard about her past was that the magician in the circus had pulled her from his hat. The Circus is her life, her family, but she's 11 and she has an offer of a school scholarship to a boarding school and her family aren't about to say no.
She's not prepared for it and they're not prepared for her but she has to adapt and her friends Kip and Ingrid help. When an Egyptian exhibit starts in the school and one of the main exhibits, a ruby that is reputed to be cursed goes missing, Poppy has to investigate.
The story deals with the plausability of the whole thing well, glosses over some details and occasionally implies real magic but without being heavy-handed about it all. It dealt with homesickness and found family and it was a hoot.
Using it for the Baker Street Irregulars square.
I was enjoying this book until the plot decided to completely jump the proverbial shark and include a twist of WTF-ery.
I get that this was written in 1979 as a pulp horror book, but there is just never a good time to present me a with a plot that involves this:
‘But then we heard that a Millbuie had inherited Balmacaan … a Millbuie woman. We have been redeemed in the eyes of the Saurian. Redeemed by your timely appearance. This time we shall be successful.’
Jeannie shrank back on the bed.
‘Successful?’ she whispered, a nameless terror welling within her.
‘Oh yes. Unfortunately the previous attempts to provide a mate for the Saurian have failed. Either the offspring dies or the woman dies. But no matter. We have learnt a lot during the past generations. All will be well this time. Mrs Murdo and Miss Struan will attend the birth.
‘Do not worry. Mating between a human and a Saurian has been done before. In Scottish legend there is an account of it. It is told how another Saurian, who was known as the Great Silkie of Sule Skerry, a superhuman denizen of the great depths, begat a child of a human woman and after the offspring was born, the Silkie came to reclaim it and together they swam off into the sea. But the legend also says that the husband of the woman who had borne the Silkie’s offspring, took bow and arrows and went and shot the Silkie and the creature that was his offspring.’
Jeannie suddenly found herself babbling in her terror. Was she really understanding correctly what this chubby-faced man was saying?
‘What do you mean … ?’ she managed to sob.
‘Why, Miss Millbuie. I am sorry the matter so distresses you. But how can I make it plainer? We have entered the period of the fifth generation since the last offering was made to the Saurian of a mate. And you are the last of the Millbuies, not to mention the fact you are a Millbuie woman. How can you ask such questions after my tedious explanation?’
Jeannie felt a chilling sickness.
‘Tell me, tell me what you mean?’ she gasped hysterically. ‘You are to mate with the Saurian. That is why I have come to tell you to prepare yourself.’
And then we have this:
The intelligence looked hard at the soft white skin of the alien creature and stifled a surge of revulsion; how ugly, how ugly and alien. How weak and puny the body. How unlike the gracious stately calm of a Saurian mate. And yet the alien had the right chemical mix of life by which to perpetuate part of the Saurian being, a being that would be part of its siring and its immortality. Yes, the thing had to be done; for to have lived, to have suffered, to have loved, to have feared, to have cried, to have fought and to have had so much ambition … and then, simply, to pass down into the blackness, into forgetfulness, into oblivion as if it had never existed … how could such a thing be? The ego refused to accept the fate of its kind. The puny white-skinned alien offered hope, at least … What did it matter that other aliens had come before … other aliens, how many times before the intelligence no longer cared; they had been offered and had perished. All attempts to create a new generation of Saurian had failed. The intelligence dismissed that fact. It did not fit in with its hope. This time it would succeed … it would … it would … it would …
I read this during the weekend that Brett Kavanaugh was voted onto the SC bench. It was not a great time (not that there ever is one) to read about some dude's imaginings of interspecies rape.
I finished the book but this turn of events pretty much ruined the read for me.
So far we have:
a plucky young heiress,
a Mrs Danvers-like housekeeper,
a dodgy man of the cloth,
a dark stranger with dirty fingernails,
a shady solicitor,
a group of monster hunters (one professor type and 3 sailors) who are surely going to die,
and one sentient, intelligent monster who is grieving and hell-bent on revenge.
I'm enjoying it.
I hope this ends in a HEA for Nessie and the heiress.