Mr Jarvis’ Book of the Dead | The Power of Dark

Gravestones at Whitby abbey
In this post we record for posterity and remembrance the names of all those who have fallen to the fatal stroke of Mr Jarvis’ pen. Hero, villain, or neither, we honour their sacrifice for the greater myth of the story.

The dead (and undead) of The Power of Dark are as follows: 

EGGS AND BACON  (The Power of Dark | Ch 5 – The Power of Dark | Ch 11) Beloved pets of Tracy Evans’s younger brother, these poor hamsters were mercilessly sacrificed by Miss Evans to a vile creature of the Deeps. Her brother will miss them, even if Tracy herself was too far under the power of Dark to understand what she had done.

SCAUR ANNIE   (The Power of Dark | Ch 2 – The Power of Dark | Ch 14)  Whitby witch of long ago, Annie’s unquiet spirit lay dormant and seething for four centuries, awaiting the conclusion of her ancient feud with the alchymist, Sir Melchior Pyke. Hauled from death by the Lords of the Deep in their malice, Annie be-gothed and be-witched the East Cliff in an attempt to wage war upon Sir Melchior and all he stood for. Owing to the guidance of Cherry Cerise and Lil’s compassion, Annie saw the folly of her endeavour at the last, and was reunited with her lover in eternal peace.

SIR MELCHIOR PYKE  (The Power of Dark | Prologue – The Power of Dark Ch 14) Alchymist and natural philosopher, Melchior Pyke sought to create for himself a device which would bestow power beyond measure. Over the years, the pursuit of such consumed him, till at last he came to Whitby, destitute and desperate, and there delivered Annie from a fiery death. Despite his love for Whitby’s fair witch, Sir Melchior saw only the glory that awaited him upon completion of his life’s work, and this blindness was his downfall. Murdered by his former love, he, like Annie, awaited his rebirth in torment, and like her, sought to wage war. He is forgiven for his pride and heedless pursuit of power, and forsook all earthly treasures to rest with Annie.

SALLY  (The Power of Dark | Ch 1 – The Power of Dark | Ch 14)  Lil’s beloved pet of many years, this faithful companion sadly died in an accident on the night of Annie’s confrontation with Sir Melchior. Upon vacating Lils body, however, Annie left behind a little of her gifts, and with them, Lil’s awareness of her own powers. Lil found that Sally’s ghost had stayed by her side, a comfort to her in that painful time.

The Power of Dark | Epilogue


‘Welcome to the sisterhood. Lilith Wilson, you’re a bona-fide witch.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: The thing I latched on to here was Cherry’s mention of the ‘guild of time witches’. There’s one instalment left to be published in this quartet, and if it doesn’t explain that in some way, I will be having words.

As for the rest of it – classic Robin Jarvis epilogue with the final twist snuck into the last couple of lines. Lil may be all right and Verne have the Nimius, but we’re only one book in, and soon our ‘spooky happenings duo’ will find themselves between the devil and the Deep Dark Triad.


Matt’s Thoughts: A great little teaser of an epilogue here – Lil can do magic, she’s somehow going to travel back in time, the Westie is a ghost, and the Nimius is still around. It’s a great setup for Book 2. Actually, especially the time-travel angle. While there has always been a lot of jumping between worlds in Jarvis stories, time travel is not something I’ve come across. (Unless it’s in Wyrd Museum? I’m still yet to read that one.) So seeing how that will play out – which always requires some clever plotting, will be awesome.

Anyway, this story has definitely put Whitby on the map again for me – if I ever get the chance to return to the UK again, I’d be very keen to stop by.

See you next month for The Devil’s Paintbox!



The Power of Dark | Chapter 14


‘In the name of science,’ Melchior Pyke yelled, ‘let battle commence!’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: First of all I am deeply offended that Cherry should compare the loathsome Mister Dark to a reptile. I am slighted and aggrieved. I throw down my gauntlet and demand satisfaction.

Second of all, what is this ending? What is this lovey-dovey, wishy-washy, namby-pamby balderdash about Melchy being all right after all and Annie just accepting him back after ‘four centuries of hate’? Where was Melchior’s apparent devotion when he was belittling Annie about her upbringing, or when he lied to her about his means, or when he refused to even try to explain his ‘great work’ to her? Would it have killed him, as I said in an earlier chapter, to communicate with her? At any point he could have expressed what was written in his journal out loud. Plus, I do not for one second believe that he found nothing sinister in Mister Dark – it was he who cut that Frankenstein’s monster down from the gallows!

Then there’s Annie’s side; admiration turned to infatuation turned to jealous, damaging obsession. She was willing to betray the aufwaders for her ‘fine gentleman’, and then, when he rejected her, poison him in cold blood. That’s not love, not even in a period drama. That’s a young, naive and troubled girl putting the first man who isn’t awful to her on a pedestal and then being unable to cope when the relationship inevitably falls apart.

The bottom line is that Annie and Melchior are not meant for each other. They are not love’s young dream, and one kiss in bodies that aren’t even their’s does not a healthy relationship make. Thank goodness they’re in their ‘everlasting peace’, because the alternative would most likely have been dysfunction beyond measure.


Matt’s Thoughts:  By Jarvis standards, a rather bloodless (and almost amusing) finale. We get the fun of a steampunk vs goths showdown – a nice nod to the real thing in Whitby – an ‘Awww’ ending to the love story – and it’s all over, bar a few broken skeletons and steampunks. However, this is a quartet, not a trilogy. So the rhythm of how much things will get ramped up is a bit different in this one. (As we’ll find in Book 2.)

And, look, it’s not entirely bloodless. After all that, it’s the Sally dog – who otherwise seemed destined to contribute a never-ending bunch of flatulence humour – who does not make it past the end of the book alive. There’s always a sting in the tail somewhere.

The Power of Dark | Chapter 13


‘Your pitiable colour magic is no match for the power of dark,’ he called after them. ‘All shall die!’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: I was right! I was right about the nimius having the mark of the Serpent upon it, and I was right about Melchior Pyke being too good to be true! Okay so it was a different Serpent than I was darkly hinting at earlier, and there’s still a chapter or so to go, so Melchy might turn out all right in the end, but let me have my moment this once.

There’s a little detail in Melchior’s confrontation with Annie that makes me smile every time, and that’s Melchy describing his great work as the ‘hazelnut of wisdom and inspiration.’ Who else was wise and revered, and wore the fruit of the hazel? The Lady Ninnia. And what did the first black squirrel find on the first tree at the dawn of the world? A shining hazelnut. It probably wasn’t intentional on Robin’s part (I’m rather adept at reaching where his worlds are concerned, as you all know) but I’m going to imagine it was.

While I’m here, I’m also going to take the image of Melchior being so besotted with his golden filigreed treasure containing serpentine magic that he cannot live without it and its promises and just …run with that. Make of it what you will, Readers all, but I know a motif when I see one, consciously applied or not.


Matt’s Thoughts: Who thought that Morgawrus’ tears would be so useful? Clearly, there is something to this idea that the bodily fluids of ancient serpents have immense power.

But I like the way that it’s not just about power and magic here – essentially the crucial turning point is Scaur Annie’s broken heart, and her feeling of being betrayed. So in the end, Melchior Pyke wasn’t stopped by a more powerful worker of magic – but simply by a girl who was deeply hurt.

The Power of Dark | Chapter 12


‘They’ll spit on my footprints in the sand and won’t never speak to me no more and I don’t blame ’em. The caves’ll be shut against me from now on. Landbreed, that’s what I am, hateful landbreed, never to be trusted. No different from the rest.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: First of all who are you calling a ‘gnome type’, Cherry? Second of all how great is it that in this version of Whitby, the aufwaders taught the early human settlers the sea-lore they needed to survive? In the original trilogy it’s implied that the ‘landbreed’ and the fisherfolk were at one point on civil terms, so that ties in as neatly as the ends of a net.

In this chapter we get more of the period drama that is Annie n’ Melchy, but at least Cherry says what we were all thinking when she points out that what they have isn’t love, but something ‘dark and obsessive and scary’. There’s certainly nothing romantic about Annie’s theft and her betrayal of her adoptive kin, nor about Melchior’s fanatical pursuit of power and view of Annie as an instrument to facilitate his own ends. As I said earlier I wish they would just have a talk, but it seems a bit late for that at this point.


Matt’s Thoughts: I’m glad I read The Whitby Child recently, because I had actually forgotten that all the aufwaders left Whitby at the end of that. So this is a chance to have them back in the story for a time (even if they are only there in a drugged sleep). But it does also remind us that they really get the short straw. Abused by humans, treated badly by the Lords of the Deep, the list goes on. There’s simply no sense that they will ever enjoy a peaceful, undisturbed existence.

The Power of Dark | Chapter 11


‘Blood is the bridge! Blood is the price!’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: Cherry Cerise is living in Alice Boston’s house. I repeat, Cherry Cerise is living in Alice Boston’s house. Alice Boston’s house is now Cherry Cerise’s house  just as it was the house of every Whitby witch before her.

I don’t think it really hit me until the moment we find this out that this series actually takes place in the same world, in the same time-frame, as the original trilogy. I mean, we’re told about it, we’ve met the aufwaders and climbed the 199 steps and Cherry mentioned a sleeping serpent before, but this is the first time one of our young heroes has explicitly been told about Whitby’s very recent supernatural past. It brings home that it really hasn’t been that long since the rising of Morgawrus, the defeat of the Black Sceptre, or the coming of the Lords of the Deep and Dark. As the Witching Legacy, this series is aptly named.


Matt’s Thoughts: It’s so awesome to be back in what is clearly Alice Boston’s house – albeit with a different sense of decór. It provides another connection – along with the aufwaders – for that little bit of connection to the past.

 The colour thing is a new idea in the Jarvis canon – at least that I’ve read – but then again, he’s always been quite detailed about the colour schemes and glow of his magical forces, so why not have a colour witch?


The Power of Dark | Chapter 10


And so the strangest school day he had ever known began.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: Those of you who have read the Dancing Jax trilogy will be getting shivers of recognition as we awake with Verne into a world where everything is wrong and no one seems to notice. Robot butlers are fully functional, motorcycles can fly, and the spells of the new West Cliff goths actually work. The most disconcerting part about all of this, though, is when Verne himself turns against Lil and surrenders completely to the will of Melchior Pyke. What will become of our ‘spooky happenings duo’ now?

Matt’s Thoughts:  So here we have the whole East Cliff going steampunk, which is just brilliant. I think the whole thing speaks for itself, so I thought I might instead share my first introduction to steampunk – given that I don’t live in Whitby! –  which I came across several years ago. It’s a short animated Aussie film, which is an interesting mix of puppetry and CGI. (I feel like Mr Jarvis would appreciate this one.)