With Thoughts on ‘Twilight Robbery’ by Frances Hardinge
Sometimes when a character speaks I am struck in the heart by what they reveal. It’s often a truth about themselves, or their outlook, which resonates with me in whatever mood I’m in, and I have to stop and steady myself, and then I view them in a different light.
Take Eponymous Clent, from Frances Hardinge’s Twilight Robbery, which I finished last week. Clent is a conman and the travelling companion of the book’s heroine, Mosca. He is self-serving, somewhat cowardly, and frankly unreliable (with the curious handicap that he cannot lie about his name). Every so often he displays a soft side, and then, in a moment of quiet, he comes out with THIS:
To be young is to be powerless, but to have delusions of power. To believe one can really change things, make the world better and simpler in good and simple ways. To grow old is to realise that nobody is ever good, nothing is ever simple. That truth is cruel at first, but finally comforting (pg 455).
…Ouch. Just as I’m feeling older, too. Poor Clent. What happened to you? When did you lose faith in the world? And why must you rub my nose in it?
Mosca, thankfully, goes on to prove him mostly wrong.
Unexpected feelings aside, ‘Twilight Robbery’ is a lot of fun. There is mischief and mayhem, in a city that transforms at night, involving a homicidal goose and some great PG-friendly swears – my favourite was “crabmaggots”. The world feels so complete; I’m keen now to acquire Fly by Night, Mosca’s first adventure, and regret very much that there is as yet no third.
Right now, what I need is a fortifying cup of tea. Then on to the next book. Something light, I think!
Have you been punched in the heart by a character lately?