The Power of Dark
written and illustrated by Robin Jarvis
cover by Nicolas Delort
published by Egmont 2016
288 pages in paperback
including illustrations and maps
wit, magic and ghoulish adventure in Whitby
Summary from Egmont website
Something is brewing in the town of Whitby. To best friends Lil and Verne, it just seems like a particularly bad storm. But Cherry Cerise, the last of the Whitby witches, fears that ancient forces are at work, reviving the curse of a long lost magical artefact.
The legend goes that the Nimius was created by magician Melchior Pyke, with the assistance of a young witch known as Scaur Annie. But they were both betrayed by Pyke’s villainous manservant, Mister Dark, causing a feud that has survived even beyond death.
As Mister Dark, with his horrific winged familiar, arises to mastermind Whitby’s very own apocalypse and take the Nimius for his own evil purposes, can Lil and Verne join with Cherry to quell his plans and save their home?
This is the first of a new series from Robin Jarvis – a well-established master of macabre inventiveness with a touch of humour. Not just that – but a talented illustrator as well. Our family thoroughly enjoyed his earliest work in the 80s – and I still do now!
He’s returned to the much-loved town of Whitby for his setting, and pokes a little fun at some of its familiar sub-cultures. There are many pleasures for those who know and love the town, which are still entertaining for those who don’t. Similarly, you don’t have to have read the previous Whitby Witches books – but there are some clever and enjoyable references if you have.
The Power of Dark is meant for confident readers – recommended for 11+. You need to be happy with several points of view and time shifts, and hold no fear of occasionally obscure vocabulary (which is all part of the fun). Contemporary it may be, but realistic it most certainly is not – distinctive over-the-top characters and gruesome, eerie moments are essential to the book. Just look at the cover by Nicolas Delort – then you’ll know what you’re getting!
Expect plenty of funny and horrifying moments (sometimes both at once) and a few sad ones. It’s not for the easily scared but a fluent younger reader who enjoys, say, Scream Street will thoroughly enjoy the challenge. Parents, teachers, librarians etc – don’t worry. It’s definitely not bleak or pessimistic in tone and has a strong self-contained ending.
As part of a set, inevitably there are loose ends. Happily, book two of The Witching Legacy series is available to continue Verne and Lil’s spooky adventures. See next week’s review for details . . .