If you’re new to the book please note that there will be spoilers galore below. Okay? Okay! Onward…
“‘You know what?’ Beth snapped. She folded her arms and glared at him. ‘Piss off!’”
So, Beth isn’t happy about being told to go home. Hell, after everything she’s already gone through, I can’t really blame her. I kind of spent much of this scene squinting at Gutterglass, who is (perhaps rightly?) accused by Beth of putting Filius up to telling her to leave. Happily for my ‘shipping sensibilities, however, she puts her foot down, and in the end Filius gives in. This means that more will be demanded of Beth, and for her own good, but more on that in a bit…
‘That’s what she wanted: not safety, home. To be able to curl into the warmth of that word. To call the city home – to be home, with him on these streets.’
Her determination to stay is about more than just any sparks that might fly between her and Fil – Beth sees something about this other London, his London, that could offer her what she really wants, and that’s somewhere to belong. This is what makes Beth a really sympathetic character; for all her sharpness of tongue and her hard outer shell, the truth is that she’s as vulnerable as anyone else. Just, perhaps, not in the ways that Gutterglass would evidently have Filius believe…
“‘Can you make me braver?’ he asked quietly, ‘because given the suicidal bloody nature of he enterprise I’m on, it looks like she can.’”
…And apparently Filius is well aware of that. Good for him!
“‘-what? What? I’m building a picture up, all right? I’m “setting the scene”. You want me to get on with it? Fine. it’s night. It’s dark. It’s enemy territory. They’re sneaking. It’s risky. Get it? Good. Excuse me for trying to make it interesting.’”
No hanging around in Drama Land, then. The snark is alive and well, and oh, how I love it. The story Filius tells Beth, of how he came to be the way he is after being born perfectly human, is told only from his point of view, ‘talking’ to the reader much as he’s talking to Beth, and I love this approach to it. We don’t actually get anything of what Beth says in her turn, and yet we can imagine it all too well. A wonderful touch, here.
And now, it’s onward to the domain of the Chemical Synod. These guys are seriously creepy, with their (literal) oiliness and their synchronicity and their snapping lighters – and it’s awesome.
“‘The men that live there, the Chemical Synod, they exist beyond my mother’s sway, but she’d done deals with them before – making deals is their reason to be.’”
(A nod to faerie lore, here? Couldn’t help noticing that one…)
We don’t find out what kind of deal Mater Viae made with the Synod for Fil, though he has his ideas about it, and seems fairly convinced of them – that she disappeared in order to find the payment they demanded, and is returning now because she’s finally done so. Is it going to be that simple? Somehow I doubt it…
“‘Filiuss Viae,’ the oil-soaked man acknowledged. His deep voice was smooth, pleasant. ‘The Sson of the Sstreetss. Pipssqueak of the Pavementss. Visseroy of the Viaductss. Sswame of the Ssidewalkss. Malingerer of the M25-’
Fil sighed and interrupted. ‘Could you possibly stop taking the piss, Johnny?’”
[Pause for LOLs]
Short and sharp, this chapter. As with Mater Viae’s bargain, we don’t get to find out just yet what Filius agrees to in order to put Beth through her transformation, but Beth being Beth, she doesn’t waste too much time wringing her hands or asking questions. She trusts Filius, and she wants this – and so she (quite literally) dives in…
We get the details of Beth’s transformation from both points of view here – hers and Fil’s – and I have to say that I love this approach to it. As if the nerve-wracking tension and squirm-inducing detail of what Beth goes through, submerged in toxic water and conscious for the entire transformation, wasn’t enough, we get Fil’s onlooker perspective as well. The whole thing scares him, perhaps even more than it scares Beth – and there’s that growing connection between them, again. This scene is almost worth a swoon… Until Beth emerges and comes to with her usual supply of snark very much in evidence, despite what she just went through. Because of course. Can’t have anybody swooning here, can we?
The chapter ends on what appears to be Johnny Napththa’s collection of Fil’s debt, though we still don’t get to find out what, exactly, it cost him to do this for Beth. Damn those cliffhanger chapters!
Right. I’m off to get stuck back in…
And that brings week 7 to a close. Don’t forget to let us know what you think of chapters 25-28 below and on Twitter with #SkyscraperThroneReRead. And don’t forget to come back next week when we will be looking at chapters 29-32 of The City’s Son.