Mark Reads ‘Deep Secret’: Chapter 17

In the seventeenth chapter of Deep Secret, Rupert is further surprised by developments involving Stan, Nick, Mallory, and Janine. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Deep Secret.

Chapter Seventeen


  • I love Diana Wynne Jones’s use of light in this chapter, as I feel it develops an otherworldly and eerie feel to the story, which is necessary given what’s going on. I suspect that my confusion was intended by Jones, and so she drops us into a scene that’s hellish, bewildering, and frightening. Notice how quickly Rupert realizes that Will is probably in danger here. It’s all a deliberate way to push us in unease, and GODDAMN IT, IT’S WORKING. Because I immediately started worrying about a million things: Was Will okay? Was Robbios a traitor? Was Rupert’s car still there? HOW THE HELL IS ALL OF THIS GOING TO BE RESOLVED?
  • Instead of answering nearly every question I have, Jones has NICK MALLORY tumble out of Rupert’s car. OH MY GOD, STOP WITH THE PLOT TWISTS. It hurts me deep in my soul.
  • (Y’all are just cackling right now, aren’t you?)
  • I am thankful that Stan came along because good lord, does he ever provide exposition that I needed desperately. Not all of it makes sense to me, of course, because unlike Rupert, I have not put all these pieces together. I initially didn’t know what the “sheet of fire” was that Stan described because how is that even possible. But there was a lot of confirmation of Rupert’s suspicions about Kris the centaur and the events down at the colony. Most important of all is the detail that Kris had to have master-planned this with someone. How else was he able to disappear from detection so quickly? Sure, there’s something to be said for the unexpected nature of what happened in the previous chapter.
  • But then this whole theory fell apart because Gram, who was in JANINE’S CAR, tried to shoot down the centaur. What the fuck? Okay, so maybe the centaurs really weren’t in on this conspiracy at all; maybe they just got wrapped up in it. It’s possible, right? And Rupert’s worry over Will could be based on this. What if Gram is going to try and kill Rob, too?
  • Why was Stan so certain that both Gram and Janine were magic users??? I’m sorry, but WHAT???? Janine seems like the most non-magical person character since the Dursleys.
  • But then Nick reveals that JANINE STRIPPED MAREE.
  • WHAT
  • OKAY, I ALSO MUST ADMIT: I’m still not entirely sure of the definition of being stripped. I understood that a person was split into more than one, but didn’t Rupert believe that Andrew was stripped into four people? If that’s the case, how is Andrew even alive anymore? If stripping a person weakens them so much, how could Andrew have been walking around? Were two worlds opened through him, giving him four versions of himself?
  • How did Gram know exactly where Nick and Maree were? I’m guessing the Thornlady is responsible for this, given the whole thorn sequence near the end. So, Gram and Janine found Maree, stripped her, took her car, tried to kill a centaur after killing three children, and are now off somewhere else doing… something. Propping up a fake heir? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.
  • That line about holding Maree being “one of the most sexual experiences” Rupert has ever had is about the strangest thing in the universe. Ew, no.
  • So, am I right to interpret Rupert’s line about the flash of fire being the literal inside of a volcano? Is that where the door was opened up on the other side??? I mean, that’s actually a genius safeguard against tampering. Whoops, if you open this gate, you’ll let in AN ENTIRE VOLCANO.
  • “The stripped half of a person fades very quickly on its own.” Ah, okay, this actually might explain my earlier comprehension issues. Rupert did mention that time was a critical issue at hand in saving Maree, so maybe the other parts split off the original can still live on their own.
  • I know everything is scary and tense, but the idea of Rupert getting the car stuck precisely in a bus station’s queue area is one the funnier things in this book.
  • “I could feel him decide that it might be impolite to ask if this meant Stan was a ghost.” Oh my god, I love this gentle reminder that Nick Mallory has had the most bizarre set of experiences in the past two days. Parallel universes, centaur surgery, and now disembodied spirits. BLESS.
  • So, the next chapter is gonna be Rupert explaining what he thinks is going on, right??? PLEASE? THAT WOULD HELP ME SO MUCH.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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