While Matthew’s brooding in Scotland, Diana resumes her ordinary routines in Oxford. She runs, she drinks tea, she studies – and she’s surrounded by creatures.
“A bewitched book.” Sarah’s voice was keen with interest. “Was it a grimoire?” She was an expert on grimoires, and her most cherished possession was the ancient volume of spells that had been passed down in the Bishop family.
In this chapter, Diana mentions that Sarah is an expert on grimoires. A grimoire is a textbook of magic containing spells, recipes, instructions, and other lore. They appear all over history and popular culture – there’s a grimoire in Wicked, there’s one in Buffy, there are dozens in Harry Potter… but according to the Guardian, there are real ones, too.
There were nine additional voice-mail messages on my mobile. All of them were from Sarah and reflected an escalating concern about what her sixth sense told her was happening in Oxford.
Diana often mentions that Sarah has a sixth sense. She attributes this to Sarah’s witchiness, but there is some scientific evidence of a sixth sense – it’s just not what you think it is. The sixth sense in humans may be related to proprioception, or the body’s awareness of where it is in space. Otherwise, there’s not a lot of science behind witchy traits like seeing the future.
When she’s stumped, Diana plays a jigsaw puzzle game in her head. She claims it isn’t magical… but we know better. Puzzles originated in the 1760s as an educational tool.
My fingers itched as if hundreds of insects were crawling under the skin. Tiny sparks of blue-green were arcing between my fingertips, leaving traces of energy as they erupted from the edges of my body. I clenched my hands and quickly sat on top of them.
This was not good. Like all members of the university, I’d sworn an oath not to bring fire or flame into Bodley’s Library.
When the Tenth Knot went to Oxford, they discovered that you can actually buy a tote bag with the Bodelian reader’s oath inscribed on it.
There are some collected alchemical references on Pinterest, also of rather dubious origins. I take no responsibility for anything you find.
It was a note from the warden, summoning me for a drink before dinner.
In my rooms I considered calling his secretary and feigning illness to get out of the invitation. My head was reeling, and there was little chance I could keep down even a drop of sherry in my present state.
In this chapter, Diana goes to Professor Marsh’s rooms for sherry. This tradition is one of many unique to Oxford. For example, Oxford students take their exams in sub fusc wearing carnations.
See you in Chapter 11!