Warning: Contains Spoilers!
‘You’ll stay with me always, Bram,’ she demanded. ‘We’ll play together on the shore every night. You’ll be my friend forever.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: First of all, a huge thank you from Matt and I to everyone who has contacted us since our last post in January. Myth & Sacrifice has been closed since then for hiatus, so we’ve only just received your lovely messages, but we were very pleased and humbled to find that our rather epic blogging journey still proves an interesting read. We hope you’ll join us for the final Witching Legacy book next year, but until then, happy rereading!
Lots of exciting names next to our star author in Haunted, and after a four-year hiatus since Whortle’s Hope it was good to see Jarvis acknowledged as a notable name in dark middle grade beside Susan Cooper, Matt Haig, Phillip Reeve, and a host of others.
Published in 2011, The Beach Hut is difficult now to separate from what followed it – the Dancing Jax trilogy and the Witching Legacy. It reads a bit like a primer for a new era of Jarvis canon, with a new publisher and a new fantasy world, the slate is wiped on old timey London and everything that entailed.
The prose is still florid enough to be recognisable as Jarvis, but the tone has the modern, straightforward feel of The Power of Dark. Neither a stalwart Gamaliel nor a wavering Ben caught up in a destiny too large for his puny mortal comprehension, Bran is just a young kid with young kid feelings and young kid ideas about the world. He’s the big brother of Lil and Verne, paving the way for a more empowered and active approach to whatever supernatural horrors the narrative throws at him.
Though only a few pages long, The Beach Hut carried on that worthy Jarvis tradition of being accompanied by an audiobook release. Where Deathscent in 2001 was elderly enough to warrant a cassette tape adaptation, ten years later, young listeners were able to experience Bran’s chilling seaside encounter via digital download. The tides of children’s publishing have changed and continue to change, but a Robin Jarvis story is a Robin Jarvis story, and the British seaside will always be haunted.
Matt’s Thoughts: Well, happy Halloween, Jarvis fans. Delighted to get the band back together for one night for this somewhat creepy journey to the seaside!
I will confess, I was rather curious to see how this story would play out. One of the things that we love Robin for is his intricate plotting and convoluted jumps and reversals. Would this really come through in a short story format?
Surprisingly, most of the elements are there and work well. Bram (nice nod there, Robin!) and his mum and aunty are all sketched in a couple of pages and come off as immediately believable as did the seaside setting.
And the reversal in the middle caught me by surprise. Most of the authors in this anthology chose to stay true to the well-known tropes of ghost stories and so there were a lot of innocent ghosts who haunt an area, hoping to be set free.
But suddenly finding out that Drusilla is the monster and the other ghosts are the innocents – that was nicely done. Also, it was quite satisfying to have her destroyed at the end. None of this leaving a place with the ghost still intact or laying it to rest by helping it fulfill its last wish. Bram was determined to make sure that Drusilla was going down.
The only remaining question to me is whether this fits into the Jarvis Universe. I’ll be honest, the idea that there are random creatures and ghosts wandering the English seaside is straight out of Whitby, even if this story isn’t set there. I totally believe it’s in the same universe.
So all in all a very satisfying tale – in much the same way as we hope that the next Witching Legacy book (hint, hint) will be satisfying as well. See you then for the real-time read-through!