The Hanging Tree: This Is Your Brain On Magic

In the first part of The Hanging Tree, I’m having flashbacks to less sensible times. Oh yeah, and I WAS NOT READY FOR CHAPTER FOUR.

Spoilers for chapters 1 to 4 below.



So remember when I said I was finally starting to get hooked and excited by what was going on here? Now I’m starting to get the flailing arms going. There was shrieking in the Muskedragons chat, after what happened in these chapters. OH MY GOD WHAT.

First, though, I want to note for the record that I am keeping one close eye on the Tyburn family, both Lady and Daughter, after that opening.

As anyone who’s ever been a teenager can probably attest, we do dumb shit all the time, and sometimes our dumb shit gets us in trouble with the law, as it did with Olivia McAllister-Thames. Though the scene where she’s being questioned, flat out admits that she bought the drugs that killed one of her partygoing chums, and seems surprised when that gets her into trouble was an exercise in unsurprised eye-rolling for me. The daughter of one of the most powerful people in London thinks she’s legally untouchable. Film at eleven.

The thing is, though, and this is just between you and me, I do kind of get where she’s coming from. I’ve never been so incredibly privileged as to have her resources (well, her mother’s) available to me, but I have in fact been younger and dumber than I am now, and I remember that first hard realisation that life isn’t something you skate through in a whirl of good times and light slaps on the wrist. I’ve never been arrested, but I grew up in an undesirable area and yes, I gave in to some significant peer pressure. Thank God I don’t do that anymore, of course, but the point is, I’ve been there and done that. So I might have been rolling my eyes at Olivia, but I can sort of understand her too. The story diverts away from her situation pretty quickly after that, but I’m wise to how this works now, and I absolutely don’t expect the Lady Tyburn to fade into the background entirely when Peter Grant basically slapped a black mark on her little girl’s record. When she specifically asked him to avoid doing just that.

I bet their next conversation will be fun for him.

But then it’s onward, because The Deeper Mystery waits for no one – and this particular Deeper Mystery has Lesley May’s direct involvement all over it. She turns up in person, and looking like she used to look before Mr Punch got to her. She also turns up with a few new magical tricks up her sleeve, like – as Peter puts it – weaponising her iPhone. She’s after the same fence Peter is meeting with on Nightingale’s behalf, because the guy wants to sell a very valuable magic-related book. So he and Lesley, presumably, both want the book – and Lesley kicks Peter’s arse during his efforts to keep her from getting away now that she’s actually back.

There are so many questions whirling in my brain here, it’s hard to keep track of them all, but perhaps the most obvious and prominent one is HOW THE HECK DID LESLEY GET HER FACE BACK?

I honestly thought that pitch from the Faceless Man was a con, to put Peter at a disadvantage. Did they find some new, safe way of using that much magic? Or was Nightingale wrong about how far magic use could be safely pushed? Or did he know/suspect, and refuse to admit it?

Or is there going to be some other serious side effect of whatever was done to restore Lesley’s face, that we just haven’t seen yet?

Either way, it looks like Lesley’s paying off that assumed debt to Faceless by becoming his magical messenger. And, as her texts to Peter in the last book indicated, she doesn’t seem at all remorseful about her situation.


So, this is how it is now. Things are kicking off. And with Peter and Beverley now a proper item, let’s not forget that we’ve got not one but two Rivers in the background, both (I presume) not exactly willing and eager to remain sidelined indefinitely. And also, let’s not forget that the history of the Tyburn – and its personifications? – are somehow important in all of this, too. Something tells me that the title’s reference to that history (yes I had to Google it don’t judge me) isn’t going to be a minor detail…





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