I’m still hoping that in later books, the style somewhat improves, because the openings of the chapters seems very out of place and jarring. It’s hard to explain, but it just doesn’t feel ‘right’ and the time continuity isn’t really there, I’m confident that it will become better in future books (Isobelle Carmody did start this series when she was FOURTEEN, but this book wasn’t published until she was 29 – if wikipedia is correct) as I get used to the style, and the style develops. I do know it is quite restrictive trying to introduce everything and once everyone knows what’s going on, the real fun and creativity can begin. Maybe I’m just being picky?
But Elspeth eventually gets used to the physical work and exhaustion, but it was replaced by ‘terrible mental despair’. It is not just the physical effects of her work, it is the mental/emotional too, and I hope that she is able to leave the kitchen and maybe find Rushton, whom (I don’t think I’ve ever actually used whom before, but I have now) Enoch mentioned. And apparently, the cook sometimes has bad moods and slaps both children in anger, so Elspeth is getting abused as well.
She sleeps with four other girls in her room, one of whom is Selmar who we have already met, but appears to have forgotten the encounter between herself and Elspeth. In Obernewtyn there are very few Guardians, and the responsibilities are dished out to senior and respected Misfits, and at the top of the list was Ariel. I would not be surprised if Ariel, being a Misfit too, uses his mind powers to influence people and charm them, he seems exactly the sort of person to do that. During her time at Obernewtyn she had not seen or heard any more about the treatments for Misfits and the mysterious Head, so they were likely just rumours.
Elspeth thinks about Jes a lot, and how much she misses him. She feels responsible for pushing him into becoming a Herder, and feels like she was selfish to think that Jes would try to kill or hurt her, I think she was just naive and too hard on him, but the situation they are/were in, does not help anyone.
Suddenly one day, Elspeth and a few other Misfits are taken on a tour of the farms, and she could not be happier, even if they were with Ariel. The group of Misfits, were all made up of people the Elspeth had seen before, some of whom she could identify. But one thing was for sure, they all hated Ariel. Ariel took them towards the farms, but led them through a sort of maze with impenetrable ‘greenthorn’ hedges. The overpowering scent of the hedge ‘numbs’ Elspeth and makes her weak and sleepy, and without Ariel, the group would have no idea where they were going. Eventually they reached the end, and were treated to a sight of the farm. According to Ariel, only a few Misfits know the way through the maze, and it is always locked, so there is no chance of getting through if you are not supposed to be. I wonder why someone put it there, was it to keep the Misfits in, or people out?
Obernewtyn is basically self-sufficient, and they need to be because the road to Obernewtyn is covered by snow in winter and makes travel impossible. We then meet Rushton, a nineteen year old man, who was well built and is the farm overseer. Elspeth tried to probe his mind, but oddly he immediately stared at her, as if he knew what she was trying to do. It will be interesting to see what their relationship will be, when they are allowed to interact without Ariel around. The next day, Elspeth had to return to the kitchen, a journey that she was not happy to make again.