Tom, Alice, and the “Spook” are not central to the book, in fact Alice is only in the last few chapters and Tom is only mentioned. Seeing the world through Grimalkin’s view is very different than you would anticipate. For the first eight books in the series, my view of Grimalkin was very different, now not only did the art work on the cover change mental image of her, but hearing her story through her words changed my mental image of her.
Grimalkin is more complex than just a cold-blooded assassin. In fact she has a motherly instinct to her, especially towards Thorne (who takes the place of the child the Fiend killed). Grimalkin is a skilled at the craft of killing and understanding the desires of others. My mental image of Grimalkin shifted from the witch in the animated Sword in the Stone, to a determine woman on a mission that has been turned to a coldhearted killing machine through unimaginable heartbreak.
Grimalkin had a perfect human boy with the Fiend, who was killed at the hands of the Fiend when the baby was only a few weeks old. The Fiend reveals to Grimalkin that the boy would have killed the Fiend one day if he had been allowed to live and grow to be a man. Then after training and nurturing Thorne, she is killed at the hands of the kretch. You can feel the vengeance that Grimalkin seeks after these heartbreaks.
Character List/Story Summary:
Alice Deane = home with Tom and the Spook rebuilding the house, has the power to be the most powerful witch who has ever lived, helps Grimalkin after she has been hurt and seeks revenge for Thorne
Grimalkin = the head of the Fiend is her responsibility and she is keeping it from the servants of the Fiend. Slept with the Fiend to keep him away from her, the Fiend killed their child and that started her path as the witch assassin. Her fortune is to die in battle with a blade in her hand.
Fiend = the Devil
Agnes Sowerbutts = a Deane, but no great love for her clan, aunt to Alice, watched over Thorne when Grimalkin was away, taken prisoner and killed.
Martha Ribstalk = seer that predicted Tom and Grimalkin would form an alliance
Tanaki = creator of the kretch
Thorne = Grimalkin trained her in secrecy, Grimalkin knows that in a few years Thorne will be stronger than Grimalkin, and take over as the witch assassin, has a crush on Will, is afraid to have her thumbs taken (a sign of a witches power), asks Grimalkin to eat her heart when she dies
Slake = lamia, Tom’s aunt, turning back into a feral lamia to help protect Tom’s mother’s trunks
Wynde = feral lamia, Tom’s aunt, taunted into fighting the kretch and is killed
Bowker = Dark Mage, appointed leader of the Fiend’s servants, hunting Grimalkin to get the Fiend’s head back. Takes Thorne’s thumbs, is killed by Grimalkin who takes his thumbs and burns his bones
Will = Grimalkin and Thorne find him bound and gagged, the son of knight, kidnapped for ransom, gives his word that his father will give shelter to Grimalkin and Thorne, ends up blaming Grimalkin and Thorne for his father’s death and the death of the priest
Sir Gilbert Martin = Will’s father, honor’s Will’s word of protection to Grimalkin and Thorne, fought a worme and defeated it 15 years ago, helps Grimalkin and Thorn create a plan to try and defeat the Kretch, accepted the kretches challenge to single combat
Father Hewitt = priest in Sir Gilbert’s castle, will be Will’s guardian, asks Sir Gilbert to banish Grimalki and Thorne, tortures Thorne (and enjoys it) after Sir Gilbert dies, Grimalkin helps kill him after she saves Thorne and the two escape the castle
Kernolde = the witch assassin before Grimalkin
Needle = the witch assassin before Kernolde, thinks she is more powerful than Grimalkin and is annoyed that Grimalkin out smarts her.