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.)



The Power of Dark | Chapter 9


Magic might be real, but it was also incredibly alarming!

Aufwader’s Thoughts: The cover of this book is really excellent, but I’ve always thought that, had it been painted in the tradition of Robiny covers, Verne soaring over the West Cliff would have made a great back-cover image. I’m well aware that the look of the original Whitby Witches trilogy is somewhat dated on the bookshelves of today and that the time of the manual airbrush has sadly passed, but a fan can gaze at her box-set and dream.

So in this chapter we come back to Tracy Evans, and a delightful sending-up of that most infamous of genres, the young adult paranormal romance. I can picture it already –

Tracy Evans is an ordinary girl with ordinary problems – neglected by her uncaring boyfriend and bored with life in the small, sleepy seaside town of Whitby. One night, while messing about with a home-made oujia board, she and her friends make contact with a mysterious spirit known only as D-A-R-K.

In the days that follow, Dark approaches Tracy again, claiming to be able to speak from the beyond via her mobile phone. Tracy has no time for what she’s sure must be a prank, but Dark is so very charming and persuasive, and all he asks is a little blood to strengthen the bond between them…

This subplot might seem like Mr Jarvis riffing on YA romance in the same way that Freax and Rejex examined and dissected the YA dystopia, and it is. But the luring-in of Tracy has a more serious component, in that it’s the story of Nathaniel Crozier and Jennet updated for a modern audience.

In an age where the ‘perfect boyfriend’ fantasy is more likely to be a supernatural, seemingly-immortal being than a humble but charming tweed-jacketed professor, Tracy’s story arc conveys the same message as Jennet’s. In real life, dashing warlocks are often abusive, twisted individuals who will use others for their own ends, and that cute guy you met on a dating app may in fact turn out to be the worst kind of vampire.


Matt’s Thoughts: The whole flying scene with the Nimius was a little bit Harry Potterish for me, so I was thinking, ‘This book is much lighter in tone than a regular Jarvis novel, isn’t it?’

And then there was a teenage girl being texted by a creepy dead guy. (Using a fake profile as well!) Anyway, as a parent of a soon-to-be-teenager, if I ever even let her have a mobile phone, you can be sure I will be checking for bloodstains …

The Power of Dark | Chapter 8


‘Old truths have been forgot. Land sakes, people, you threw away what was real and ran to embrace cotton-candy whimsy instead. This island’s bones are cemented over and y’all were happy to let it happen. That’ll cost you mighty dear.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: Whenever I remember that Cherry Cerise is based on a real person I feel as bright as Lil’s knitted creations. Of course, the fictional Cherry has a bit of Robiny magic in her to blend her with the setting, but there are people we meet in our everyday lives who have other kinds of magic in them, who instantly snazz-up your day (as Cherry might put it) and make you think ‘which story have you stepped out of?’

Having said that, I like that Lil isn’t immediately comfortable around her, and that Cherry is blunt and rude, rather than a Miss Honey-like mentor figure. Miss Boston was rather short-tempered and grating too, at times, but she was officially Ben and Jennet’s guardian and they were lumbered with her. Lil, on the other hand, already has parents, and I like that she stands up for them even despite the peculiar upbringing they foisted upon her.

Speaking of Miss Boston, I love the recreation of that scene at the start of The Whitby Witches where she and her new charges huddle in the selfsame graveyard – probably even sitting near Lil’s bench – and have their first heart-to-heart. You can really feel history overlapping. I’ve never been to Whitby, but I’ve often felt that certain very ancient sites hold some memory of the happenings they’ve seen, and the scene between Lil and Cherry in the cemetery evokes that feeling.

I have to laugh when Cherry says of Scaur Annie’s head, ‘Word is, the skull’s gone AWOL’. Matt already made the joke about Annie having a second job as Robin’s book-tour accomplice, but it’s pretty hilarious to imagine her being late to haunt Lil’s mirror with the excuse, ‘I have a life, you know.’


Matt’s Thoughts:  Who would have thought that the Morgawrus and his filthy tear-pool would get a second look in? (It is a great concept, though, so I’m glad to see it back again.)

Also, what sort of Canadians has Robin met in his lifetime? I go to an international conference every few years and I always found that Americans were good for the enthusiasm and hype, people from the UK were good for a night at the pub and Candians were good when you wanted to calm down a bit. They’re normally so mild-mannered!

But Cherry, with her wild colours and slightly obnoxious manner (which cleverly mask the depths of her personality) is quite a character!



The Power of Dark | Chapter 7


‘Oh, far out!’ she cried. ‘That is so funky. Lookin’ good, Whitby, lookin’ good!’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: All right but I really, really hate that scene with the diorama. It terrifies me, a grown adult, so that I can’t read it over and have to zoom past that page in order to not even lay eyes on it for a second. Lordy.

That side, here’s a spooky story for you all: last summer, literally the day after I had read this chapter, a bench in the park I frequent was yarnbombed. Just one bench, and not even in a busy part of the park. It was a beautiful job too, all colours of the rainbow and very sturdy. It lasted all through the Scottish winter, and I don’t know about you, but I reckon there was magic involved.


Matt’s Thoughts: Great little creepy  set-piece with the electric chair automaton, but my favourite line of all is ‘Our Verne isn’t a wizard … it’s just his hormones.’ But then again, what would our parents have said to us if we’d started doing weird stuff like this when we were younger?

On the whole, I find this book has a more intriguing set-up than some of the others. While most Jarvis books would be in dark and dangerous territory by this stage, we have a lot of flashbacks to the past, but not necessarily anything super-life threatening in the present. But, of course, for those who’ve read the rest of the book, all of these bits and pieces become increasingly significant.


The Power of Dark | Chapter 6


‘Just one brief glance within,’ she told herself. ‘None shall ever know and I won’t never doubt him again.’

Aufwader’s Thoughts: So all that promotional business with Nettie was a beastly swizz and the aufwaders only appear in flashbacks, hm? Hmm, Robin? Hmmmm? 

I wish I could feel swindled, but honestly the alternative was that there were some aufwaders who missed the boat at the end of The Whitby Child, which would rather dampen the mythic glory of their final departure in that finale. So thank you, Mr Jarvis, you did this story and your readers a good turn.

Speaking of the historic segments, goodness me but I wish Annie and Melchior would communicate like an actual couple. Would it have killed ol’ Melchy to just say something like ‘I wish I could tell thee but forsooth tis probably very dangerous and I would fain die rather than see harm come to a hair of thy fair head’ or something equally gallant, and left it at that? Not that Annie is any better, I mean – Nettie’s questionable advice aside –  she could’ve handled things more openly all together.

On a final note, who doesn’t love Catesby? What a devilish little abomination! Can I keep him?


Matt’s Thoughts: Clearly I’m not the only one who thought that picture of Scaur Annie’s head was freaky, given that Robin happily carts the replica around. But can you imagine it playing out on TV or in a movie? Eurghh ….

Also, I also have to throw in a vote for Catesby as one of my favourite Jarvis creations. I don’t know where he came up with the idea, but it’s just brilliant. I loved the idea of Catesby as a name for him just when he was a cat (‘because he was always lurking in the cellars, like that traitor with the gunpowder’). But when you add in bat wings as well? There’s just something quirky and great about it.