The Whitby Witches | Chapter 9


Miss Boston squinted at the hazy blur, which seemed to be some sort of scar. She sucked her teeth and nodded to herself; that was no ordinary mark and she knew that nobody else present would be able to see it. 

Aufwader’s Thoughts:  I must say it was a relief to see Miss Boston accept Ben and Jennet’s stories as fact. In a previous post I mentioned that she showed signs of being acquainted with the supernatural and that that might just been what the children need, and now that quality comes into its own. So often in fantasy the hero’s parents or guardians are well-meaning but oblivious to their charge’s magical adventures, and while that may work in other stories, our Ben and Jennet desperately need an adult who will not only listen and understand what they are going through, but do their best to help as well.

The little interlude at the lifeboat museum is one that made quite an impression on me when I first read it, and which I could still clearly recall even when I couldn’t remember exactly when in the book it happens. It stood out to me as being one of those scenes where you can tell that Mr Jarvis really loves history, and that he really, really loves Whitby history. Like Robin’s books as a whole, the story the stranger tells Ben about the exhibit is one third educational and two thirds grotesque, and I’d even go out on a limb here and hazard that the unnamed man was Mr Jarvis himself, making a cameo.

Finally, the Mrs Cooper Mystery continues with her appearance at Mrs Joyster’s funeral. I love the illustration for this chapter; Mrs Cooper prim and proper in her elegant mourning dress, and Miss Boston in full detective mode, peering suspiciously up at her, wondering at the silvery marks which mar that perfectly made-up cheek…


Matt’s Thoughts: I love the idea of Robin Jarvis being the man in the museum. It would make perfect sense. He sees a child. Works out a story that is gripping but tragic. Chuckles to himself as he walks away from the trauma he has caused. Genius theory, Aufwader.

I’m not even going to pretend we don’t know what those silver marks are. You can’t do much more foreshadowing than that. Robin might not have given us a vampire in this story, but we’ve got ourselves a werewolf! (Or were-hound? Or … I don’t know … help me out, fantasy people? Is there a technical term for people that change into animals that all the kids use today?)

Now, speaking of Rowena, I have just been watching old episodes of Poirot with my wife and discovered that in a 1993 episode of the show, there is an actress by the name of Rowena Cooper. This has made me curious – is she someone Robin bumped into back in his model-making TV days, and immortalised in The Whitby Witches? Or given that we know from an earlier chapter that Rowena’s real name is Roslyn Crozier, did Roslyn pinch her fake name from an obscure TV actress and hope nobody would notice?

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