‘I am Empress of the Dark,’ she exulted. ‘Armies shall fall before me and nations tremble at the mention of my name.’
Aufwader’s Thoughts: Matt mentioned during the ‘Up Next’ post for this book that when it first came out there was no indication that it was part of a trilogy. This is really interesting, because the ending does read like an honest-to-goodness series finale. Like the ending of The Final Reckoning, it is positively apocalyptic in its proportions, and when all is said and done, it feels like our heroes have really faced the worst that Rowena and the Lords of the Deep could throw at them.
This final chapter was as vivid on cassette as it is in book form, if a little pared down. It’s certainly one of my favourite of Mr Jarvis’ finales, and, along with Deathscent and the entire Wyrd Museum Trilogy, showcases his love for history in a way that is amazingly cinematic and exuberant. The finale sequence, with Mrs Cooper cackling and Whitby flashing through the ages and our heroes in deadly peril, makes a fantastic case for a Whitby Witches television miniseries. I’ve often thought of this book being most fitted to TV adaptation with 1990s techniques, but since that can never be, I’ll take today’s digital effects if it means bringing the awesome power of Hilda’s staff to life.
As with any Robin Jarvis finale there’s going to be a lot of myth and a lot of sacrifice, and the ending of The Whitby Witches surpasses expectations on both fronts. Poor Sister Bridget, and poor Hesper! I cried when she was snatched cruelly from us, but I understand that her demise was inevitable. After all, she was simply too nice to live.
Then there’s the fact that everyone’s efforts to find the moonkelp amounted to nothing, and the aufwader’s are, as Miss Boston says, ‘doomed to extinction.’ If this were the ending to a stand-alone novel, it would be a poignant and unsettling one, but we all know that these are only the shallows. Darker things await us further out, Readers all, and we will need all our fortitude (and a bit of aufwader magic) to survive those grim and fearful depths.
Matt’s Thoughts: I am a bit of a fan of ‘classic’ films. (I think I’ve bought Lawrence of Arabia about four times since I was a teenager because, you know, first there was a VHS version, then a 30th anniversary VHS version, then a DVD, then a Blu-Ray.)
But, I also love the other type of classics: the big-screen crowd-pleasers where all the elements are set up and then come together in an exhilarating finale. That’s exactly the feel I get from the ending of The Whitby Witches.
What’s not to love? Every little historical story that Mr Jarvis has dropped to our characters throughout the book all come back and everything pays off. Even if you saw the ending coming about the crumbling tower with the dead hound in it, it just makes it more thrilling when that particular gag rolls around. (Can I call it a gag? I like to think there’s a certain humour to it.)
However, it’s not completely fun and games. Losing Hesper on the way is a low blow and the bleak hanging ending of the aufwaders still being doomed … It makes the ending of this book both satisfying and miserable at the same time. In short, exactly what we want from Robin Jarvis and a cracking introduction to a whole new fictional world.
So I shall look forward to getting back into that in two months … But see you in a few days for The Alchymist’s Cat!
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