I won’t comment on all the structural details other than to say Rowling is masterful. The attention to these kinds of details and subtlety that many never pick up but contribute to her works is beyond my understanding and I am in awe.

It is fun to read your predictions on the whodunit while I know the answers. To see which clues you have picked up on that are right and which are wrong is a great read.

Your assertions at the end of this post were exactly what I was thinking as I read this book. There is such smugness in the politically correct, cancel culture, censorship madness we find ourselves in. Those that think certain political parties or faiths are in the wrong and brainwashed don’t realize how much they are part of the groupthink they accuse others of. Their false superiority and belief in their own higher morality in all matters boggles my mind sometimes. Rowling’s Twitter wars regarding these topics and how others view her really are represented in how she narrates this book and these subject flowing throughout.


Expand full comment

Robin being pulled underwater in the pool was a lot like Harry trying to get the sword of Gryffindor. The torture in the box was like Hermione in Malfoy Manor.

Expand full comment

I wonder whether JKR wants us all to consider “What cults am I in?” and “What power have I given over?”

I also wondered whether she might ask us to consider that in many ways, our entire society functions as a cult. The images of suffering Jacob and the extent to which Robin’s motivation to help Jacob brought down the whole cult made me think of Le Guin’s story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” By choosing to save that one child, Robin destroys the cult, or at least the current manifestation. In that story, a wonderful society is built on a single cruel injustice - one suffering child. The reader has to ask if they would choose to tolerate that innocent suffering in order to live in a utopia. Robin, heroically, does not. She destroys the cult (false utopia) to save a child. She also actively chooses to suffer in order to save Will/Qing.

Expand full comment

I’m also very interested in the ways Robin and others find strength and motivation to resist brainwashing and then to choose what is difficult and true rather than what is easy, expected, and socially supported. I think the instinct of parental love is a strong indicator towards truth, and given John’s writing above, that love may be a reflection of the Devine, the ultimate Truth. Robin’s desire to protect a child is love, it’s what strengthens her to risk escape even when she is so terrified after being in the box. For Will, the arrival of Qing helps him to begin to see clearly, and his desire to protect her spurs him to escape.

Of course, in some cases, the parental instinct seems to prevent freedom. Diedre and Lin both stay in the cult to protect their children, perhaps reflecting the fact that many women choose to stay in abusive marriages fir the sake of their children.

Another call to clarity seems to be a connection with our own bodies. Robin, who we know a worked to reclaim her body after being taped, is physically repulsed by the Wase’s attempts possess her. Physical abuse and physical care in the form or food, rest, and respect for autonomy and individual needs are indicators throughout the series that a character is one the right path.

I wonder what other readers see. What spurs Rowling’s characters to see the truth? To undertake difficult actions?

And, if you agree that parental love and connection to the body are powerful in the book, do you agree that these are powerful indicators of truth in the world? Do these forces help us to see the cults we put ourselves in? Do they help us to recognize what truths we may be avoiding in our lives due to our desire to avoid punishment?

Expand full comment

Oh, and you were pretty much right on the money with the Daiyu events, just evaded by the elusive killer!

Expand full comment

Excellent analysis. And fascinating insight to read the thoughts of one so well-versed in real-time as it were.

As others say, the exploration and implications of cult-like thinking in general society are very thought-provoking.

The part about the parallels between Robin and Charlotte in box, bath and beyond on point.

It's also interesting that from the analysis of the previous parts you were thinking that Robin wouldn't be getting out till part 8 or 9. Perhaps that is the alternate timeline that would have involved even more harrowing and degrading trials, but was averted due to the spiritual intervention that enabled Strike and Robin to co-ordinate her escape.

Expand full comment