Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Honourable Mention: The Whitby Witches

The Blurb: When orphans Ben and Jennet arrive in the seaside town of Whitby to stay with Alice Boston, they have no idea what to expect. A lively 92-year-old, Miss Boston is unlike any other foster mother they’ve known.

Ben is gifted with ‘the sight’, which gives him the power to see things invisible to other mortals. He soon encounters the mysterious fisher folk who live under the cliffs and discovers that Alice and her friends are not quite what they seem.

But a darkness is stalking the streets of Whitby, bringing with it fear and death. Could it be a ghost from the Abbey? Or a beast from hell? Unless the truth is uncovered, the town and all its inhabitants is doomed.

The Mention: This book hit my awareness when reprinted in 2017 but was originally a young adult novel published in 1991. The first thing to say is this is not a vampire novel. It has ghosts (and spirits), a race of supernatural creatures, witchcraft and an enormous black dog with burning eyes haunting the streets of Whitby (which we can tie, of course, to the legend of the Barguest, which in turn likely inspired Dracula’s form when he disembarks the stricken Demeter in Dracula). The fact that, unsurprisingly, Stoker’s novel is mentioned gives me the “in” I needed to mention Robin Jarvis’ novel (as well as a page of Dracula facts in the “Modern Classics” printing of the book as part of the “extras”). Quite simply it was a glorious piece of fiction that neatly walked the line between young adult and adult literature. Never gratuitous but always eerie, atmospheric and blooming dark in places. Fully entertaining I encourage you to take a look at it.

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