Zinka and Deep Secret

Kathleen Jennings s368333 at student.uq.edu.au
Fri May 2 10:25:20 EDT 2003

Minnow wrote:
> Will has bushy hair that wriggles -- I just found that, looking to see if
> he had parents.  Was that a DS reference to "wriggly hair" you had in
> Kathleen?

Yes, and Dakros' hair as well. I first noticed it in Hexwood, so I'm not
sure of examples in her other books.

I finished (re)reading Deep Secret out loud last night (still hoarse but I
wasn't allowed to stop) and I think the bit that I still find the most
thrilling is the episode with the quack chicks. I don't know why. Maybe I
just really like the way DWJ writes waterfowl. Growing up I ran the dairy
and egg industries on our farm (my sister had the pigs and made considerably
more money). The leathery-winged avians in Dark Lord act just like real
geese (I am prejudiced here, I inherited the geese from the people who
leased our property while we were living in Brisbane and they were
evil-minded brutes: geese, not people). And the quacks act like... ducks, I
think. But not quite - you can tell they're not ducks but something
different yet real. She writes animals the same way as she does people (e.g.
the griffins in Dark Lord are People, but they are also not quite human:
they are Griffin also).  But I loved that whole tense passage where they are
waiting for the return of the travellers from Babylon and Rupert wakes up
and hears a noise and the adult quacks come over the hill. It was a Best Bit
for me.

That's another point about DS (and DWJ-books in general) - *everyone* has a
story, not just the main characters. All the named (and unnamed people) at
the con must have really interesting tales, even Odile is human, though you
only get a glimpse of it. Dakros, Alexandra and Jeffros have a whole epic
quest-for-an-emperor-and-fight-to-save-the-empire going on offstage that the
reader barely hears anything about. And then there are those quack chicks -
what a tale they must have, and no way of ever finding out what it is.

As I said before, I find it all very thrilling, and it also relates to the
sensation of being made to look up and outwards that I mentioned in an
earlier post. The book is complete in and unto itself, and yet it isn't
confined by the official 'story'. It reaches out in every other direction -
there is so much out there, so much to see and know, so many other stories
going on  besides the one(s) you (as reader or character or person) are
intimately involved with. Even her sequels don't follow down a narrow
pre-established path as most sequels do. They may (emphasis on may) take
place in the same world but they follow new characters and stories and
lives, although they touch on people you already know.

I think this is my last point. I do like the way DWJ makes you look at
people you 'know' from the point of view of someone else: Rupert from
Maree's pov (and then at the end from Nick's which adds just a little more
to his personality), for example, or - another favourite - the three
siblings' father from the point of view of the "giants" in The Power of
Three. I lent the book and cannot seem to access their names at the moment -
I just woke up. That was marvellous - how Rupert goes from sympathetic hero
to "the Prat", how the father moves from being a tall, powerful, impressive
Hero to a slight, elusive, trickster-figure. It's very powerful. (And when I
get Hexwood back I'm going to find out how many pov changes she can fit into
a single paragraph).


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