The Whitby Witches | Chapter 12


‘Very well, child. If thou do indeed bring back the treasure of the Deep Ones, I shall lift my judgement. But if thee return empty-handed, then expect the full measure of my wrath and abide by my decision.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: What a grim and gripping chapter this is! It’s only the first book in the trilogy and already we have the beginnings of a killer finale (no pun intended). Ben has found the moonkelp just in time, and the sprint to reach it and save the fisherfolk o’ Whitby bay from extinction is underway. As if that were not enough, we are also deluged with enough aufwader lore to keep me busy for weeks, so let’s have a look at some of that.

A few posts ago, I speculated as to whether the aufwader’s gift of foresight was ubiquitous. While that has not yet been answered, we do get to see another power which is definitely shared by all the tribe; the ‘aufwader snare’. This is worded in such a way that it might be a metaphor, but to me it reads as if Nelda and her family are literally rooted to the floor by the collective gaze of their fellow angry fisherfolk.

This raises some very interesting questions. Ben was caught in the snare when he first came upon Nelda, and later Silas Gull used it on him again with malevolent intent. However, the snare must have had other uses before the mother’s curse took hold and the tribe began to die out. I wonder, does this hypnotic power bear any relation to the luring song of sirens and other mystical beings of the deeps, if they exist in this universe?

In this chapter we also have the honour of venturing into the ancient home of the tribe. I shed a tear with Hesper when I think of the ammonite caverns where marvellous festivities were once held, now blocked up by a dwindling community who have run out of causes for merriment. A few old wonders still survive, however, like the hidden entrance to the caves, operated by a simple but sturdy mechanism and invisible to prying outsider eyes. One is reminded of the bespelled doorways devised by Tolkien’s dwarves to protect their mountain halls, though in this case, there is more engineering than magic involved.

Finally, I must begrudgingly mention Esau, as we make his acquaintance in this chapter. Those of you who are reading this book for the first time will forgive the rest of us for pausing to spit at the mention of his name. Believe us, you’ll be spitting too before the trilogy is over.


Matt’s Thoughts: For the first time we get to have a look around the aufwader digs, with caves, secret doors and all sorts of awesome stuff. (That’s my less poetic description of the place.) I do have to ask, though, for those of you who are actually British: are there really that many caves in the UK? Growing up on Enid Blyton books, I just assumed that wherever you went in England, you were within half an hour’s walk of a cave or a railway tunnel. So of course there are secret caves all over Whitby. But are there that many famous caves? Do any of you go exploring caves for fun

Anyway, moving on from caves … Robin Jarvis is usually fairly respectful of his community leaders – they might be a bit stuffy (like Mr Oldnose), but on the whole people like the Thane and Mr Woodruffe are a good sort. So it’s a little bit out of character (but totally awesome) to have Esau come out, deliver a resounding banishment and then get fairly solidly told off by Nelda. (Cop that, Long Whiskers!)

And just when we start to get all excited about moonkelp … Rowena! It’s that moment when the arch-villain shows up and it’s every bit as iconic and brilliant as we want it to be.

But before I breathlessly flick over to Chapter 13, I do have a question for Aufwader: Tarr’s accent? Does that sound a little bit like he’s migrated down from your part of the world?


4 thoughts on “The Whitby Witches | Chapter 12

  1. The aufwaders having such powers explains how at least *one* of their number could not only outsmart the Lords of the Deep and Dark, but also the humans for so long – my memory is hazy but was it ever stated that the aufwaders’ invisibility from human eyes was innate or a deliberate power (I suspect the latter – which means that someone with ‘the Sight’ really is their biggest threat). And yeah…Esau..hoo boy…

    As for accents – I am AWFUL with accents, both in speaking them and recognising them, but if Tarr’s voice sounds a bit Scottish it could be a reference to just how many fishing villages sprouted up in Scotland (thanks to the Highland Clearances, if Im right)

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  2. To answer Matt’s question, there are a fair few caves here, especially near the sea. I don’t go exploring many myself because I’m a big baby and I’m scared of the dark but I once went on a guided tour in one (in Castleton, I think?) that had a rock formation that cast a shadow that looked EXACTLY like Mole and Ratty in a boat. This has nothing at all to do with this chapter, I just thought it neat to mention.

    Also, I LOVE the idea that the aufwaders’ invisibility is deliberate!!

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    • According to the Famous Five books my mum was always buying me when I was much younger, you would be right. And all the crimes in Britain are solved by groups of loyal chums with a dog who seems to understand exactly what they’re saying. (Although a parrot is considered to be an acceptable substitute for a dog.)

      One of the beaches in my town does indeed have caves. My dad took me to explore one of them years and years ago. What was really cool about it is that he’d found an old lantern which we took along to light our path through the eternal night which lay beneath the cliff. I still remember looking at the stone walls and seeing the slimy jelly-like blobs which clung to them…


  3. At long last, Team Land-Dwellers and the Aufwader Brigade join forces to recover the moon kelp and save Whitby! I’ve got to say, seeing both groups meet up at the pier really brings home to me what a fantastically diverse cast of characters we have in The Whitby Witches!

    An elderly witch whose sworn duty is to defend the town against the forces of evil. An immortal who was born from the union between a human and a supernatural being. A brother and sister who have been through several foster families due to the brother having the ability to see ghosts. A supernatural being who fell in love with an amoral dirtbag and wasted her youth trying to redeem him and then later took on the role of surrogate mother for her orphaned niece, all while seeking tirelessly for a legendary treasure that might save her tribe from extinction. And let’s not forget the black-hearted sorceress who made port in Whitby not long ago…

    The backstory of any one of these characters would provide material for a book that any author would be chomping at the bit for the chance to write. And here we have them all gathered together in a single book. It really is cool how they each have a history which makes them stand out in their own right, don’t you think?


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