The Whitby Witches | Chapter 5


‘Just how you are involved I am not certain,’ Nelda told him excitedly. ‘But for an instant back then I saw the moonkelp and …and you were holding it, human child!’

Aufwader’s Thoughts:  At the start of this chapter we meet two of the most interesting and memorable secondary characters in any fantasy trilogy; Tarr Shrimp, Nelda’s grandfather, and Hesper, her aunt. Gosh, I want Hesper to be my aunt. The Whitby Witches gets so grim at times that the comfort she provides in her very presence is desperately needed. Look at her on the side of the Whitby Witches box set, what a lovely old dear!

Of course, this is Robin Jarvis, and Hesper has woes of her own to contend with. Like Gwen Brown before her, she is a maternal figure but also a distinct and rounded person apart from her charges, and I would go so far as to call her the aufwader counterpart to Miss Boston. Both ladies are responsible for the care of emotionally vulnerable young wards, and both do not always live up to the standards that those wards expect of them, but they both make every effort to give their best, and we love them for it.

Here we also get to delve deeper into aufwader mythology and tradition. I love that Nelda straight-up has a prophetic vision and Ben and Hesper just accept it as fact. Is Nelda prone to this sort of thing? Is prophecy and foresight given to all aufwaders as to the bats of the Deptford Mice Trilogy, or only to specific members of the tribe? Was future-telling another of the gifts all but confiscated by the Lords of the Deep and Dark, or are they granters of visions for their own cruel ends?

Considering my claim of kinship with the aufwaders in the previous post, you may be thinking that that mysterious triad are my Robiny call to faith, but I must disappoint on that count. My allegiance will remain undeclared for a while yet. Frankly, I’m rather pleased not to be beholden to the Lords of the Deep, for what a petty and vindictive trio they seem. The mother’s curse is still one of the most sadistic, gruesome torments ever inflicted on any of Mr Jarvis’ characters, and we haven’t even truly touched upon it yet.


Matt’s Thoughts: Aufwader has said quite a bit about her namesakes, so I won’t add to that. Except to say that all the Whitby Witches mythology is coming back to me. There’s just something so rich about it, even after all these years. But I will jump in and say that I enjoyed the interlude in the Museum.

a) Because it’s actually a real museum, which makes it so much cooler. For instance, you can go and see the Hand of Glory. (Gross, right? You can totally understand why Robin Jarvis and the town of Whitby get on so well!) I totally want to visit there.

b) While it sounds like a breezy interlude in between the aufwaders and their centuries of heartbreak and despair, it’s actually carefully setting out all the plot elements that will become important later on. Very, very clever stuff, Mr Jarvis.

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