Weaving a tangled web requires more than deception.
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS. YOU MAY WANT TO LEAVE IT UNTIL AFTER READING THE FIRST FIVE NOVELS!
In the fourth article on the TotenSeries I discussed self-confidence. My self-confidence in allowing the series to determine its own course. Well, here we are again, several years ahead of the fifth novel’s completion and I don’t even know if the title Revelation will still be used.
It’s a fitting title because the fifth Toten novel will be the last of the TotenUniverse, wrapping up the Malandanti series and Frieda Schoenhofer’s Reflections series. As of 2016 I’m not sweating yet how it’ll all turn out, but it had better be good. There’s nothing worse than a mob who’ve been led down a garden path. (I can promise you this: the stories in the TotenUniverse are not an elaborate dream; no one is in Limbo, Purgatory, Heaven or Hell; and Rob Wallet isn’t the Devil. Sorry if that spoils anything, but they’re the usual clichés when it comes to ending a weird saga.)
But the dilemma is still there, no matter how far away the deadline appears to be. I’ve created a rod for my own back by expanding Toten Herzen’s stories to include the wider Malandanti conspiracy. I am now obliged to link them and in a way that is more than tangential.
The danger in all this is contrivance. When the shouting’s finished the reader should feel as if the clues were there all along, with a final chapter that doesn’t include a list of characters sitting on a sofa like the end of Charlie’s Angels explaining to all the thickos how Mrs White came to do it in the Dining Room with the last of the red-hot pokers.
But a breathtaking WTF is a tall order! So where is the ending going to come from?
The whole charade began in 2012 when Rob Wallet wrote an essay describing three theories surrounding the 1977 murders of the four members of Toten Herzen. His blog went on to record the events leading to his discovery of the band (and their murderer Lenny Harper) in Obergrau, Germany.
Every story in the TotenUniverse stems from that initial encounter, but the Malandanti not only predates Wallet’s investigation, but Toten Herzen too, so I, and you, must recognise that the Malandanti had an agenda long before Rob Wallet turned up on the scene. A potential relationship between Wallet and the Malandati is an option. But he’s apolitical, has no pre-vampire powers and never mentioned witchcraft in the first novel We Are Toten Herzen.
Rob Wallet’s intentions will remain questionable.
So what about the Malandanti? Four hundred years old, not mentioned in any conspiracy theories, known only to Interpol until Toten Herzen’s 2014 album Malandanti brings the coven network to public attention.
In Who Among Us… we watched that network collapsing. The question for me to resolve is whether the link between the Malandanti and Toten Herzen is deliberate or accidental. Think Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln and the Prieure de Sion!
There are shoots of an idea growing from the first Malandanti novel: Virginia Bruck still hasn’t found Eve and appears to have helped Jennifer Enzo move around undetected in her search for Thomas Polder’s Abramelin Variation.
For me the key scene was Jenzo’s elevation high above the Alps from where she looked down on a world she despised more than ever. What she was thinking at that moment remained private, but it set up a potential timeline that seems to dovetail nicely with a climactic novel called Revelation.
As for the band, I know Susan’s story up to the end and if you send me a cheque for £15 000 I’ll tell you. How will her fate affect the others? Each member of Toten Herzen has a detail pertinent to their future and their past.
Elaine Daley’s alchemy tattoo on the side of her head might be a personal statement or a signal. In There Will Be Blood her brother Neville asks her to pay a visit to their mother; the first indication that Elaine’s mother is still alive.
Also in There Will Be Blood, Rene’s growing dissatisfaction with Susan has repercussions which will become apparent in the second half of the TotenUniverse.
The vampire valley was found because of a book owned by Dee Vincent. In Toten Herzen Malandanti we learned that Dee and Elaine had visited the valley without telling Susan and Rene (a deceit straight down the Anglo-Dutch faultline running through the band). Is Dee’s ancient book collection hiding more knowledge known only to Dee?
Maybe we’ll eventually find out what happened to Peter Miles, and who turned Susan Bekker back in 1974. The options are there, but what particularly intrigues me is the role Frieda Schoenhofer will play in the outcome.
Frieda has one foot in each camp; ex-Malandanti (she tells us), but now a vampire too. At the end of There Will Be Blood, Rob Wallet starts to have doubts about his Bambergian ally; doubts reinforced by Susan Bekker when she reminds him who paid his Monaco mooring fees, who rescued his ghostly girlfriend. Favours Frieda could reverse at any time.
We saw a deeply compassionate side of Frieda in The One Rule of Magic. She searched for her father’s film collection, helped the hapless Gert Breitling and showed a particular weakness when she fell in love with Natasha Druba’s marionette. But what she lost when she left the Malandanti she gained in becoming a vampire. A greater brutality, a greater rage. The ‘vampire’s fury.’
In The Fine Art of Necromancy, unwritten at this moment, Frieda will attempt to raise Lena Siebert-Neved from the dead. Whatever she learns in that story will play a key role in the climax of the TotenUniverse. Throughout the series Frieda has walked the line between TotenDark and TotenLight. We’ll only know which side she chooses at the end.
Maybe I should run a sweepstake and take bets on how it will all conclude. I’m sure I’m not really in control of it. But I do know that all the work committed to the first five novels has to be done all over again for the final five. Another six to seven years of writing and rewriting. Hopefully, you’ll still be hanging in there; hopefully you’ll be watching the films! (And cursing me for allowing the producers to split the last novel over two instalments.)
And once it’s finished I’ll be able to move on to Quarter Moon. . . .