Dear readers, we’re more than halfway through North! Or Be Eaten now, and the second half of this book contains some of my favorite passages. They’re also some of the hardest passages—ones with darkness and sadness. If you’re new to these books, don’t lose heart. Andrew’s going to put us through a lot, but he’ll bring us all the way out again, too, and it will be worth it.
When Janner woke, he thought for a moment that he was dead. His eyes were open, but he could see nothing. His body ached, and his hands were so blistered that he couldn’t move his fingers. He tongued his swollen lip and tasted blood. He was in bad shape.
But where was he? He lay on a hard surface, but his hands and feet weren’t bound, which was a relief. He sat up, and his forehead smashed into something hard.
“Ow!” He put a hand to his forehead, forgetting the blisters on his fingers and palms. “Ow!” he said again.
When the pain subsided, he found he was in a box not much wider than his shoulders and not much taller than his chest. He felt himself on the verge of panic. Janner had always been afraid of tight places, even when it was just he and Podo wrestling. Sometimes when Podo held his arms down, this same panic erupted. One moment, Janner would be laughing, and the next he lost all control and thrashed as if in a bad dream. He closed his eyes again and forced himself to breathe slowly.
But he couldn’t resist the urge to push on the ceiling, just to see if it would give. He pushed, found it solid and strong, and then he lost his mind.
Janner screamed and scratched at the walls and ceiling of the box, heedless of the pain in his hands or in his fingernails when they tore away. He was trapped in a dark so deep that light itself seemed never to have existed at all. He lost all sense of time. He kicked and scraped until his strength was spent and then lay there sobbing. He cried for ages, until sleep came at last, but he dreamed of a giant nothingness, an empty hole into which he tumbled and disappeared.
When he woke again, he found that the box was not an awful dream but a black reality. He panicked again. He lay panting in the blackness, talking to himself, praying aloud to the Maker, accusing, pleading, screaming things that, while no one could blame poor Janner for saying them, will not be repeated here.
And the Maker’s answer was a hollow silence.
—From chapter 40, “The Coffin.”
What did you most enjoy reading this week? The rooftop chase? The heat of the factory? The name Flavogle? Shining eyes? Or are you reading another section of the series right now? Whatever you loved best, share it in the comments!
If you’ve got more thoughts swirling, just stop by the forum. We’ve got a conversation going on the Maker’s silence, and there are several other great topics as well. And it’s a great place to make new friends. 🙂 I’m glad we’re reading together!