Myth & Sacrifice

The Great Grand Robin Jarvis (Re)Read

The Oaken Throne | Chapter 3


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘Green be with you, my little Belle.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts:  Heglyr! What an excellent name, even for a very minor character. I love that bat and squirrel names have a specific feel that is unique to each species. Bat names (aside from Vespertilio, but I’ll come back to that later) seem to have more harsh, ancient sounds (‘Roh-gar’, ‘Hre-thel’), whereas the squirrels, if they aren’t named from antiquity, have fluting, delicate titles more suited to the supposed romance of the High Middle Ages.

Well, there’s not much romance to be seen here, but quite a bit of fear and loathing. Matt pointed out last chapter that the bats in this book are in stark contrast to the mysterious but peaceable Orfeo and Eldritch from the Deptford Mice Trilogy, but I ask you all to remember the elders who Oswald meets in The Final Reckoning.

Most certainly, they have seen war, possibly even with the subjects of Greenwich. With titles like Lord of the Twilight and Consort of the Lady, they clearly wield great power even if their court is somewhat diminished, and I can easily imagine young Hathkin in Vesper’s place, eager for a taste of what his people have told him over and over is glory.

Furthermore, let us recall the tension between the Starwife of the Deptford books and the bats whom she summons during the eternal winter of the Unbeest. Evidently, the deeds of Ysabelle’s time did not fade in the minds of either side, and we will soon discover the outcome of a war so terrible that it is still recalled, centuries later.


Matt’s Thoughts: What can I say – it’s a chapter that largely sets up the big quest of the story, but the characterisation is brilliant. I was really intrigued by the complex interaction between Ninnia and Cyllinus. She seems to be the stronger of the two in the royal court, ordering her daughter on a life-and-death mission, making the big calls. But by the end of the chapter, it is she who has broken down and Cyllinus who has pulled himself together for the final sacrifice. We don’t quite know how the relationship works between the two of them, but it feels real. Sometimes in a relationship, one person will be the stronger half, another time it might be the other. But it’s not always both at once and that’s what we see here.

And Wendel and Griselda, another couple of those quirky characters who show up in Jarvis books and prove braver than you would at first think.

But the highlight for me was the suicidal captured bat. His kamikaze attitude towards the whole situation and his grim joy at the oncoming destruction of the squirrels foreshadows the destruction just as effectively as the fire egg apocalypse described in Chapter 1.

Really loving getting back into this.

The Oaken Throne | Chapter 2

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

Awake, awake,’ they sang. ‘Thy sleep is ended!’

Aufwader’s Thoughts:  There are two kinds of Robin Jarvis fan: those who look forward to Aldertide, and those who look forward to Wendel. I’m not quite sure how, but that stoat jester has wormed his way into the hearts of almost every fan of this book I have ever met, and I can hear you all yelling about him in the comments already. Personally I find him unimpressive, morally questionable, and generally a bit dodgy, but I admit I am in that second category by default if not by choice, as happy little critters singing and dancing in the sunshine has never been my kind of party.

That said, there’s a lot to appreciate about Aldertide. The name alone is graceful, and the concept of the alder maids quite charming. I love that sweet little song they sing to awaken the venerable trees from their slumber, and I’ll be the first to declare Ysabelle the most precious thing on the Green’s good earth. The medieval-maiden hairdo! The tufty ears! Adorable.

The contrast between the joyful squirrelly celebrations and the blood-soaked horror of the bat’s attack is shockingly stark. We have already witnessed the heart of the battle at Greenreach last chapter, but here it becomes personal, as Ninnia and Cyllinus fear for their daughter and discover what dread destiny she has caught in her small paws. With the realm of the Starwife in ruins, the best day of Ysabelle’s life has quickly become the worst.


Matt’s Thoughts: Ah, we haven’t seen a chapter like this for a while. The feeling of community that we get from these squirrels at Coll Regalis reminds me of the feel of Fennywolde and Deptford (back before they got into serious trouble). Of course, as with all things nice and communal, it’s not long before things get disrupted.

I feel somewhat sad that the bold peregrine who I so admired from the first chapter gets dispatched in this chapter without us ever finding out his name. But it doesn’t matter – whoever he is, he’s got the job done, and Ysabelle’s story has begun.

One thing that was striking about this chapter and the last (ignoring stoats with jester caps for the moment, which is also somewhat hilarious) is that it’s a completely different type of bat than we’ve seen in past Jarvis books. We think of the bats in Deptford as being a bit enigmatic, but ultimately brave and good for a fight when you need them. (Perhaps a bit like Yoda?)

But this stuff with screechmasks and razor-tipped claws is another level of bloodthirsty altogether and a little bit unsettling. However, thinking about it some more, couldn’t we say the same about much of humanity? We can give the illusion of being peace-loving at different periods of time, but the violence of our past (both recent and distant) always reminds us that we can be pretty savage sometimes as well.

The Oaken Throne | Prologue & Chapter 1


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘Is what I ask too great?’ he murmured. ‘Is it my lot to be shamed for all time?’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: Bats in the sky! Squirrels dying! Horror, tragedy, doom! It’s The Oaken Throne! Who else is excited to start this one? I know I am, this is my second favourite Robin Jarvis book of all time. Verily and forsooth let us get to it, then!

From the very first page, we are dunked head first into the wraith-haunted, benighted gloom of this world. What a wonderfully evocative opening, and what a clever touch that we don’t know that Vesper is a bat until almost two pages after he’s been introduced. That I only noticed on reread, and though I daresay the effect is ruined a little if you’ve already read the blurb or seen the older covers, it’s still an interesting technique. If you went into it not knowing what the story was about, you would assume that it was a human boy who was about to leap from the ruined tower to his death, and as a result feel an immediate connection and pang of sympathy.

As it is, what we might have felt for Vesper the human is directly transferred to Vesper the bat the moment he opens his wings, and before more sceptical readers have a chance to express their disdain for yet another medieval epic with talking animals, we are swept into a medieval epic with talking animals that is like no other.

This is a tale of two contrasting fantasy cultures, and both are excellently set up in these opening scenes. First, we have the mysterious bats, with their unflagging desire to reclaim their birthright of prophecy (those who have read the Deptford Mice Trilogy will grin in wry recognition here). Then, as if that wealth of tradition and fascinating motivations were not enough, we are whirled right along into the leafy domain of the squirrels, and face our first betrayal in the gaunt and rather elegant shape of Morwenna.

In a few short pages, the aged Starwife is dead and the Knights of the Moon under fearsome General Rohgar have the upper hand (or, er, wing). What will become of the silver acorn, and what diabolical plots will Morwenna orchestrate next? Will Vesper ever have a chance to prove himself? Dear readers, we shalt see.


Matt’s Thoughts: What an exhilarating opening this is. The opening prologue with Vesper sets up that familiar trope of the hero who wants to go to battle but is too young for the experience, so we can expect a journey of courage for him in the future.

But Chapter 1 is brilliant – a total barn-burner of an intro to the squirrel world. The kingdom of Greenreach is an awesome concept – a bit Rivendell, a bit English castle, a bit decaying Roman empire. We’ve got an evil witch character in Morwenna and a bat raid that becomes the visual equivalent of the WWII London air raids.

But for me, the greatest part is the peregrine falcon. How he came to have a league with the squirrels we don’t know. In fact, the great thing about the Histories is that while technically they are back stories for The Deptford Mice, you could clearly fill many books with the back story behind these histories as well.

A missing silver acorn out there somewhere? Yep, I’m hooked. On to Chapter 2!

Illustration Nominations | A Warlock in Whitby

Aufwader’s Pick: 

‘At The Church of St Mary’ (c) Robin Jarvis, 1992

This one is a piece that I clearly recall from the first time I read this book in full – I was so startled by how malevolent and scheming Nathaniel looks here. His expression as he interrogates the guardian is captured in a wonderfully lifelike manner, and I have to speculate whether his appearance was based on a real actor?  You really can see that his ‘charm’ is quite phoney and fake, and that in reality, he is a somewhat gaunt, rather shoddily-dressed crook with ideas above his talents. Winner of the Most Shoddily-Dressed Magic User Award, indeed.



‘The Rising of Morgawrus’ (c) Robin Jarvis, 1992

I love everything about this, but especially the fact that it looks like a still from a 1990s television series. Look at that set! I can imagine it sparkling turquoise, blue, and violet, and hear the ear-splitting shrieks of the last Mallykin as it flees for its life. (I also love the tiny spirals of curling dust in the top right. That technique is one I picked up from Mr Jarvis and have used to good effect before.)

Matt’s Pick: 

‘The Demon and the Dog’ (c) Robin Jarvis, 1992

Maybe I’ve been missing it in earlier books, but I’ve noticed that Robin was really starting to play with some odd ‘camera angles’ in his illustrations for this book. So you look at this one, where we’re sort of staring over the shoulder of the transforming Deacon. It’s brilliant because we’ve got that terrifying claw in the foreground, a look of terror on Miss Boston’s face (and we all know she’s not an easy woman to scare) and, best of all, a dangerous feeling of distance between that railing and the ground below. It feels tense and terrifying – but also a nod to classic black and white monster movies as well.

‘Blotmonath’ (c) Robin Jarvis, 1992

One word: Mirror. I love the mirror effect here. We only have Ben and Crozier in the frame, so we can only see Jennet in the mirror. For me, it’s the combination of Ben’s haircut (which reinforces how young he is) and the Mallykin on the floor that make this one brilliant.

I was lamenting a little bit that there is no picture of Morgawrus to be found in this book but, you know what? There are some things that are probably better left to the imagination.

Mr Jarvis’ Book of the Dead | A Warlock in Whitby

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 deceased of A Warlock in Whitby are as follows: 

MR ROPER  (A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 5 – A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 9)  Hereditary protector of one of the ancient guardians fettering Morgawrus in eternal sleep, Mr Roper was a kindly old gentleman who was tortured and finally murdered by Nathaniel Crozier in Crozier’s pursuit of the guardians. Mr Roper showed great courage in the face of his demise, and has now joined his beloved wife, Margaret. May he rest in peace.

DANNY TURNER  (A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 2 – A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 11)  This wayward troublemaker was viciously slain by the last of the Mallykin race. Coming from an abusive home, he never had the chance to escape his upbringing or make something of himself. He will be remembered by his family and friends.

MRS PATRICIA GUNNING  (A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 6 – A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 11)  A powerful white witch, Patricia was used as a lure to draw Alice Boston away from Whitby at a time when she might have been most needed. According to the designs of the warlock Crozier, Judith Deacon, Mrs Gunning’s private nurse and devotee of the cult of the Black Sceptre, poisoned her patient slowly to death. Patricia died warning Miss Boston of Deacon’s deceit, and will be fondly remembered by all who knew her.

PRAWNY NUSK  (A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 3 – A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 13) Courageous aufwader and trusted friend of Tarr Shrimp, Mr Nusk perished at the fell claws of the Mallykin. He will be missed by all the tribe.

BACCY  (A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 10 – A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 13)  Another brave member of the aufwader tribe who fell to the Mallykin. Deeps keep her.

JOHAB  (A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 3 – A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 13)  Elder of the tribe, Johab did not approve of Esau’s action despite being at his right hand. Stalwart and fearless to the end, he died facing the Mallykin.

ESAU GRENDEL  (The Whitby Witches | Ch 12 – A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 13) Elder and leader of the tribe, Esau lived for eight hundred years before the Mallykin and his own warped lust for power caught up with him. During the rise of Morgawrus, he was buried beneath the cliff within which he spent his years, and only the Deep Ones know what became of his wretched soul.

THE LAST MALLYKIN  (A Warlock in Whitby | Prologue – A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 13) This bloodthirsty fish demon was brought forth by Nathaniel Crozier to do his despicable bidding, and many souls fell to its razoring claws. It was crushed to death during the awakening of Morgawrus – a deserved fate after the suffering it brought to the world.

JUDITH DEACON  (A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 6 – A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 14) Devotee of Nathaniel Crozier, werewitch and murderess, Ms Deacon was accidentally killed by Mrs Gunning’s butler when he attempted to defend Miss Boston from Ms Deacon’s attack. She is also guilty of the murder of Mrs Gunning by slow poisoning, and perhaps other undocumented crimes carried out on Crozier’s behalf.

NATHANIEL CROZIER [‘HIGH PRIEST OF THE BLACK SCEPTRE’]   (A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 1 – A Warlock in Whitby | Ch 14)  Warlock, cult leader, and so-called ‘most evil man in the world’, Crozier was responsible for countless despicable crimes, including infanticide and other murders. His desire to bind the serpent Morgawrus to his dark will was thwarted by Alice Boston and the guardian wrought by Irl. Crozier’s body was calcified by the breath of Morgawrus, and his end was ignoble and agonising.

MORGAWRUS  (A Warlock in Whitby | Ch14)  Fiend of the deep oceans, this abomination of nature was raised from slumber by Nathaniel Crozier, and returned to its fetters by Alice Boston. Long may it sleep beneath the waves of Whitby bay.

A Warlock in Whitby | Chapter 14


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘I defy you, Morgawrus,’ Aunt Alice proclaimed.

Aufwader’s Thoughts:  This finale has absolutely everything. There are the kind of huge set-pieces and magical ballyhoo we have come to expect, as well as lots of lightning, lots of things being set on fire, and lots of absolutely spiffy character moments. My two favourites are definitely Nelda testing the weight of one of Miss Boston’s good vases with a view to lobbing it at Nathaniel’s head, and Miss Boston herself swirling her cloak about her shoulders and uttering that immortal line, ‘The time has come’, before striding to meet her nemesis on the storm-lashed cliff above Whitby. Go forth and conquer, Alice!

Aside from the finale of The Final Reckoning and those of each of the Histories books, this has to be one of the endings I enjoy rereading the most. When I read this final chapter to write up this post, I was still swept into the drama and epic horror of the rising of Morgawrus. I still cheered for Miss Boston and worried for Ben and Jennet, and I may have grinned a satisfied grin when Nathaniel crumbled like a stick of Whitby rock.

For all I remembered this finale more vividly than Matt, I was still surprised and pleased to find that Morgawrus had a few lines and a bit of personality, even if he only has a slither-on part. He is not the only enormous serpent demon we will meet in the course of this project, and he does get, er, overshadowed, further down the line, but he’s certainly an imposing specimen. Personally, I’m inclined to make happy cooing noises at him as one would to a fluffy little puppy or kitten, but I acknowledge that the rest of you probably don’t share my starry-eyed joy at the thought of a titanic, serpentine fiend from the dawn of time arising from the depths to resume its role as scourge of all living things.

In any case, with the epilogue that greets us after that monumental show-down, it looks as if we’re in for quite a bit of hell and high water in The Whitby Child. What will become of Ben and Jennet, with their beloved Aunt Alice unable to protect them? And what terrible fate awaits Nelda in the months ahead?


Matt’s Thoughts: And how’s that for a finale? There’s a giant serpent that lives under Whitby and if you let it out – it will trash the place. No wonder they love Robin Jarvis in Whitby. Who wouldn’t like the idea that there is a giant creature sleeping under your city that could destroy it at any moment? You’d never look at the cliffs the same ever again.

It’s also probably the most epic serpent/dragon myth (at least as far size is concerned!) in the Jarvis universe, so all those hints about Hilda fighting off serpents, serpents carved into the arms of the Triad throne – all of these become a sort of epic foreshadowing leading up to this finale.

And then Miss Boston appears! Saved from a werewolf by a drunken butler armed with a port bottle, no less. (A nicely comic ending for what was otherwise a rather terrifying villainess.)

One thing I did notice reading it this time which I’d never noticed before was that the way Alice activates the final guardian is to call on the power of several forces – the Church, the Moon and the Lords of the Deep. This might actually explain why, in the previous Whitby book, we were wondering why the Mother Superior and Miss Boston seemed to have such respect for each other. Did they sense, in a way, that their powers were meant to combine to keep Whitby safe?

This sort of mythology of what might be behind different beliefs is explored a bit more fully in the new Witching Legacy series, so I’m sure we’ll get around to that next year.

Finally, poor old Miss Boston and the state she’s left in at the end of the book! I was privately sharing with Aufwader when we were writing the posts for this book that my memory was really rusty on what happened in these final two Whitby books. I remembered the showdown with Morgawrus, but for some reason thought that something as epic as a showdown with a giant serpent surely must be the end of Book 3.

But, no, that was the end of Book 2, Miss Boston has had a stroke, and Nelda is pregnant. I now officially cannot for the life of me remember what our heroes get thrown into in Book 3, but it must be huge. Which is definitely making me look forward to getting back into it.

However, that’s in another month from now. Starting in a few days, we’ll all be polishing our best bat and squirrel theories, because it’s the one that everybody (it seems like) has been waiting for: The Oaken Throne.

A Warlock in Whitby | Chapter 13


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

The end had indeed come.

Aufwader’s Thoughts: All right but how terrifying is it when Prawny Nusk is thinking he’s evaded the Mallykin, only to hear scuffling noises from over his head? The cassette version missed out that particular detail, and I always find it absolutely chilling, especially because, for a while at least, we feel as if Prawny might be in for a fighting chance.

The brave last stand of the aufwaders brought a tear to my eye – especially when Tarr called upon those who were left to go down defending themselves rather than fleeing. It’s such an important moment for his character, as, in making that stand, Tarr has now stepped up in a way that he seemed incapable of before, even when Hesper died or when his granddaughter was being forced into matrimony. He’s always been a tough old pebble, but from now on he can really begin to come into his own as a leader of the tribe.

Reading that small page or so where Nelda takes the guardian from the Darkmirror and flees made me feel queasy when I was a young reader. It makes me feel queasy now, too, but I’m glad it wasn’t censored out or glossed over, because for all it uses the device of a young girl’s body as commodity, it handles that exceptionally well. These days, the entire forced marriage aspect probably wouldn’t make it past the first draft, but I think that says a lot about mainstream middle-grade publishing today and our changing attitude to what we believe young readers can and can’t handle, as opposed to being a comment on the worth of the sub-plot itself.

Ever since Esau tricked Nelda into marrying him, she has simply been doing whatever she could under the circumstances, and I find it incredibly powerful that her decisions throughout are portrayed as just that. She is just doing what she can to save herself and her people. There’s no romanticisation of her plight at any point, and no shame or blame attributed to her for her actions. You would think that would be a given, but, sadly, such an approach is the exception, even today. My respect to Mr Jarvis for the sensitive and impactful way he handled Nelda’s journey in this book, and my respect to the publishers who let Nelda be brave.


Matt’s Thoughts: I’d secretly love to know (says me, as I write this out in a public blog!) how much back and forth there was with the editors over this whole chapter. Anyway, regardless of that, I found it to be one of the most gripping chapters I’d read in a Jarvis book so far.

It’s so intense. The Mallykin – who, because his violence has been largely off-screen and/or reined in by Nathaniel – finally comes into his own and we realise that this thing is bloodthirsty (and difficult to defeat!).

And then, we’re just reeling from that, when wham! Mr Jarvis hits us with Esau’s hideous deal with Nelda. I’m sure it was controversial for its time, but given that we’re still dealing with the question of how women are treated today (and I’m made more aware of this, having a daughter), it still has a resonance today.

And then just as if that wasn’t enough, it turns out that that black pool is a giant serpent’s eye. The whole thing is just brilliant and I doubt anybody could stop there.

A Warlock in Whitby | Chapter 12


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘The Anglo-Saxons called it Blotmonath – the month of blood.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: This is definitely one of those chapters that would work very well on the small screen. The otherwise cosy and safe environs of Miss Boston’s cottage become claustrophobic with the arrival of Nathaniel and the gruesome Mallykin, and Ben’s helplessness serves to make a bad situation worse. In The Whitby Witches, Miss Boston’s home was a safe place for the children, somewhere they could return to if the world became too threatening and full of supernatural horrors.

Reading this chapter, I remembered Jennet sitting awake in bed during Book 1, hearing the howls of the Barguest outside but protected from its terrible jaws by the charms over the doorway. It’s testament to how the tone of the trilogy changes in this book – and to the threat that Nathaniel presents as the main antagonist – that it is Jennet who has now unwittingly destroyed the protections around the cottage, allowing all manner of supernatural nightmares to enter.


Matt’s Thoughts: Poor old Ben! This time round he gets the trauma of Nathaniel arriving in the house with a Mallykin in tow.

It’s about this point that I realised that it’s quite a clever plot point having Ben with supernatural powers and Jennet being just his ‘normal’ sister. If they both had the sight, then you wouldn’t be able to get the horrific tension of this chapter, where from Jennet’s perspective, she’s entertaining a guest and making cups of tea. From Ben’s point of view, his sister is about to be savaged by a vicious monster. What makes it so effective is complete lack of awareness of the danger that lurks around her.

And then the final scene in the Gregsons … while it’s the destruction of the guardian that is the terrible part that is going to release doom on Whitby, for me, it’s the interactions between the Gregsons that makes this scene so effective. Mrs Gregson, spoon-feeding her husband and begging him not to die and leave her alone. The same husband that, a few days ago, she had nothing but contempt for. While the Gregsons wouldn’t be pleasant people to hang around under normal circumstances, Mr Jarvis invites us to show a moment of compassion (again!) and reminder us that no one deserves to have Nathaniel Crozier happen to them.

A Warlock in Whitby | Chapter 11


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘Soon Nathaniel and I will be together,’ Miss Deacon growled, and her teeth were visibly larger.

Aufwader’s Thoughts:  I feel like this is one of those chapters that everyone remembers. Even if they haven’t read this trilogy for many years, mention this particular book to even the most casual Robin Jarvis fan and you’ll either get, ‘oh isn’t that the one where the kid gets ripped to bits by the little sea monster?’ or ‘isn’t that the one where Alice Boston gets menaced by a werewolf witch pretending to be a nurse?’

Everything about this chapter is so flamboyantly ghoulish that it definitely sticks in people’s brains, and it certainly stayed with me after I heard it on cassette. I was one of those who recalled The Case of Miss Boston and the Evil Nurse more than I remembered Danny’s awful fate, but both are moments of real tension and horror, and, after Nathaniel in the Church of St Mary, are two of the most stand-out scenes in this novel.

On reread, I realised I had forgotten about Nathaniel’s role in both the death of the young bully, and the ploy to keep Miss Boston away from Whitby. After his callous murder of Mr Roper in Chapter 9 – not to mention the plots for world domination – it seemed as if Mr Crozier could not get any more nefarious. This chapter proves that assumption wrong with gusto, and also introduces one of the main elements of The Whitby Child in the form of Judith Deacon, werewitch.

Earlier, it was established that Roslyn Crozier’s ability to transform into a hellhound was in some way connected to Nathaniel. Although Roslyn is gone, it appears that she was not the only one upon whom certain powers were bestowed in return for allegiance. How many more lonely, vulnerable women has Nathaniel drawn into his dark thrall, and what manner of vile deeds might they perform against Ben, Jennet, and Miss Boston in the blindness of their devotion?


Matt’s Thoughts: This chapter gets me from two angles. On the one hand, there’s the part of me that has been having a lot of conversations with commenters on this blog over the last few months about what Jarvis film adaptations might look like. But when I get to a chapter like this one, I realise that there’s no way someone is going to make a kids movie with these scenes in them – at least not delivered the way they come across in the book.

So I feel this sense of gleeful delight in Robin’s writing (which could well be totally imagined and perhaps it’s just me reading into it!) that he’s thrown aside any fears of what parents, teachers or highly-sensitive readers are going to think, and is just going for it on the creepy stakes. So here we go with fish demons teaching young kids the evils of nicotine addiction and lycanthropic nurses!

But then there’s the other part of me that is totally invested in the story and hooked in by the grimness of the whole thing. Also, because the back story to the London subplot is never explained in detail, we don’t know exactly how Nathaniel engineered every detail or how long ago he has been planning it. All we know is, this is that moment in the story where you realise the bad guy is in control of everything and he’s got no conscience whatsoever.

This just takes me back to the grand days of 70s horror novels (all right, I’ve only read half a dozen of them, but still). And what a great cliffhanger!

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