With a nice blend of character work and edge-of-your-seat visuals, Dingess and Roberts continue their stellar work by making an ordinary trip extraordinary.
It isn’t always in the literal monsters that they excel in, but even the monsters posing as humans are spotlighted.
Lewis attempts to kill the Ranidea by throwing live bait and shooting at it, failing each time much to the chagrin of Clark and the rest of the crew.
We see that Lewis realizes that the crew believes him to be a man of words while Clark is the one they prefer seeing with the gun, but still he presses forward.
There is a cameo by Sacagawea’s husband Chaarbonneau as he provides the sarcastic lazy commentary which Clark repudiates.
In the forest, York is trailing Sacagewea but is momentarily blinded a sundial lying on the ground. That is enough for Sacagewea to grab him by the throat, not liking being stalked.
It’s interesting to hear the discussion of two who are by all definitions, slaves. Clark is more a captain than a slave owner, but York’s position in the pecking order has been clearly demarcated by the rest of the crew.
As for concerns over Sacagewea, we can see that she is more capable than the entire crew to deal with the current situation and she reinforces that firmly.
She provides a butterfly specimen for Lewis to ponder over (alongwith what seems to be a very good drawing that draws praise from everyone on the boat).
Hardy and Irene are found to be missing, and the land crew goes in search of them, with the lecherous Jensen and company leading.
They find both unconscious, but are attacked by numerous large mosquitoes (though not as large as the first one we saw) and manage to barely get out safely.
A few men are lost, as the more medically inclined crewmen examine Hardy and Irene. Clark berates both of them, but at the sight of Irene’s torn lips and Hardy’s facial scars, realizes what has happened.
It’s nice that they didn’t go with the ‘let’s misunderstand the victim’ route, and made Clark out to be a man who notices details even in a fit of anger – showing a softer side seldom seen in the captain.
Even as he contemplates a more serious punishment for Hardy than whips, the puncture wound on Hardy’s back suddenly sprouts a needle like projection – leading to a full grown mosquito emerging!
Dingess keeps delivering the chills and thankfully slides away from melodramatic stuff. And Roberts proves an able ally, as he is able to draw the hell out of the environment, though with people like Jensen and Hardy, is able to make out the real monsters with facial expressions alone.
This is proving to be a riveting journey.
So, I give it 8.5 out of 10.
+Some great character moments
+The imagery continues to grow in strength
-Feels a little like this book is moving from cliffhanger to cliffhanger, instead of an actual plot