In the second part of Broken Homes, architecture might be more interesting than I’d thought.
Spoilers below for chapters 6-10.
Things are still warming up as this story continues, though now it’s starting to take on a distinctly ‘slow burn’ sort of feeling, which is definitely keeping me on the hook! What surprises me is how much of an interest it’s making me take in architecture.
I mean, I like pretty buildings and their histories as much as the next person, and will gladly devote tourist energy to such things. I’m that kind of tourist. But there’s listening to interesting stories of a building’s history, and then there’s buying into the theory, apparently being put forth as A Thing here, that a building’s structure and design can improve the lives or the natures of the people who live in them.
… Yeah. Look, I grew up in the armpit of Glasgow’s east end, and I’ve spent the last decade or two watching it get a facelift, so I can tell you with rather firm certainty that this is not A Thing. You can pour money into these places until they look like a French royal court got dropped on them, and you’ll still have drug addicts and belligerent mothers who go to the shops in their PJ trousers and scream at their kids for moving half an inch on a bus that could double for a massage chair if it wasn’t for the sticky floor and all the dirty windows (and if you particularly hated your spine).
I mean, if we’re being perfectly fair, maybe French royal courts had an equivalent of all this. I dunno, I’ve never lived in one. But I suspect not, because what self-respecting noble type wants to have that in their face all day?
We’re sliding into the topic of gentrification here, but my point is that people change places. Places don’t change people. So I find the idea of zen architecture, if you will, a bit dubious to say the least.
That said, however, I do find the idea of magic zen architecture to be intriguing. Especially when it’s creepy and possibly evil magic that’s afoot (hello, every haunted house story ever), and given that we’re evidently dealing with the Faceless Man and his as yet undiscovered plots and plans, I’m betting that gentrification is not on his list of Things To Do Today.
Aaronovitch is coming at the reveal of this plot in his well-established ‘plodding policeman’ way, which might start to frustrate me if it didn’t seem to be working as intended now. As I noted last week, I’m feeling a much deeper engagement with this book than I’d felt previously, and I’m definitely getting the sense that wherever its writer is going here, his metaphorical shoes are properly broken in now and we’re getting there with confidence, which makes all the difference.
So what is the deal with the Skygarden tower? Is it actually affecting some sort of magical change on its residents? And if so, what exactly does Faceless want with that potential power? And, magical staff or no magical staff, will Peter, Lesley and Nightingale be enough to stop him?
I won’t lie, I’m starting to get a bit nervous for Nightingale, in a very ‘Gandalf versus the Balrog’ way. Lesley’s disfigurement aside, nobody has died or been written out yet, and I feel very keenly aware of that fact. So I will state for the record that if Nightingale kicks the bucket because of this, I am going to cause a disturbance.
Then there’s the matter of the other ongoing storyline in this series, lest we forget: the rather delicate brokering of peace, or at least a more settled sort of quiet, between Mama Thames and the Old Man of the River. The Spring Court brings them together for the first time in this book, and nobody dies in the process, which is a good thing! I’m still wondering what good will come of all this, and how it might tie into everything else, and the only thing I’d put money on at this point is that Tyburn will be the one who’s really involved, somehow. Whether she’ll be on the side of good or not remains to be seen, but I’m not holding my breath for that. I can’t quite picture her deciding to stop antagonising Peter and actually help him – unless there’s something in it for her.
… Oh. OH. Is the next book going to pit Beverley against her sister somehow? OH GOD I AM SO HERE FOR THAT. Ahem. I AM THOUGH.