A Warlock in Whitby | Chapter 4

tac

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘And that’s why she always used to warn me about charming gentlemen – because the Devil himself is a charming man.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts:  Here we have another chapter that’s rather uncomfortable to read, with Nathaniel using his dodgy warlock powers on our Jennet. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I want to be like a big sister to her here. I want to tell her to stay with her book and her chocolate digestives and don’t even get up, and for the love of all that’s holy do not answer the door. But of course, we all have to read powerlessly as Nathaniel slimes into Miss Boston’s house and into the mind of her young ward.

As with the previous chapter, there’s just enough ‘removal’ here to make this scene digestible for young readers – Nathaniel uses magic rather than more overt means to extract the information he needs from Jennet, but he is still coercing her and taking advantage of her susceptibility to his artificial charm. What I think is really good about the way Mr Jarvis deals with this is that Jennet is never blamed for her infatuation at any point. It’s very clear that Nathaniel is a vile, abusive character with no redeeming features, and that he sees those weaker than himself as pawns to be used (see also the scene with the Gregsons in Chapter 1). I’ll go into more detail on this when we get to The Whitby Child, but for now I’ll say that I think this is an excellent introduction to one of the most infamous and loaded aspects of this trilogy.

The story of the ‘charming man’ has stuck with me right from when I first read this book (though I admit that instead of having a cautionary effect,  it came across to me as a somewhat amusing metaphor for my involuntary propensity toward falling for fictional villains). Anyway, I was, and continue to be, of the opinion that the ‘charming man’ Miss Wether’s mother met is in fact a character from Robin Jarvis canon masquerading in a different guise. At the moment I have two suspects for the role of suave cufflinked Devil, but I can’t name any names. Suffice to say that we’ve a long, long way to go on the project before we meet either of them.

 

Matt’s Thoughts: This chapter is darkly brilliant. Getting back to our human characters, I love the humour of the scene between Miss Wethers and Miss Boston, with their fussing and directness respectively. It’s a nice throwback to the original book and also a reminder, that of the original Whitby Witches, these are the only two left, which is somewhat sad.

Then the scene with Crozier at the Banbury-Scott house which nicely expands the mythology from the first book (no mean feat, given how apocalyptic that book felt in its finale) and gives it new directions.

But the bit that surely gives everyone the heeby-jeebies (do people still say that or am I showing my age?) is the Crozier/Jennet interaction. I won’t dwell on it too long, but it becomes more sinister the older I get. And also, Jennet, being the tough character that she is, you know she’d never do anything to endanger Aunt Alice and Ben unless she was totally being coerced by an evil power.

Finally, we have the fantastic story told by Miss Wethers, which struck me as having an air of poignancy. In many sense, it’s like a Jarvis nod to old horror stories of the early 20th century (it reminds me of my grandfather’s book of True Irish Ghost Stories which freaked me out no end when I peeked into it at age 12). But you also wonder whether there was something deeper underneath. Did Miss Wethers’ mother make the story up to scare her daughter away from men? It’s already hinted that Miss Wethers might not have ended up a spinster if it wasn’t for that story sitting in the back of her mind. Who knows?

Either way, it very economically sketches the tragedy of Miss Wethers’ life – just another dash of great characterisation in the Jarvis universe.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “A Warlock in Whitby | Chapter 4

  1. I wish I could claim to have invented the charming man story, but I didn’t. It was told to my mother by one of her elderly patients that she used to visit when she was a district auxiliary. That lady swore that it happened to her own mother. The charming man stepped right out of the wall, dressed in evening wear, and reassured her that he hadn’t come for her, and then walked towards the window, beneath which the men were fighting in the courtyard – and one of them was killed. How could I not use that and bend it to my own story? The idea of the devil being charming has fascinated me ever since and when you think about it, of course he’d have to be.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Nathaniel always kinda stuck with me cos he was one of the few depictions of a Satanic warlock in YA media that actually acknowledged the more…explicit parts of what these cults got up to, albeit subtly. His more smaller cult (certainly rather tiny and rubbish compared to the likes of the Deptford cults, or later on in Dancing Jacks) is more in line with how real attempts operated, with his equally lecherous and perverted character certainly fitting the description of many a real cult leader (I’d name examples but that would prolly be inappropriate here)

    Of course, the folk tale presented here (which, nice to hear it was apparently a real folk tale!!) shows the folkloric basis for Nathaniel, which is know throughout many disguises – but Nathaniel is funnily enough a very fake (and forceful) charming, acknowledging the darker side of the concept

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What can happen in 4 days indeed?

    It’s interesting to discover that the charming man story is not a story, but someone’s actual experience! Its a story that stayed with me long after reading this book the first time, and sometimes I forget it’s from a book at all. I grew up w a spiritual family, and yet I’m also VERY easily scared by the spiritual too (one has to wonder how I got through any of Robin’s books as a kid, haha). The knowledge that something like that COULD happen, a charming man COULD step out of the ceiling, because weird stuff happens all the time, has always been utterly terrifying to me. Don’t you dare even think about it, charming man!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s