My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I grew up near Whitby. It’s a gorgeous, wild place. It hinges on the great jaws of the West and East Cliff and when you stand there, on that bridge between the two sides of the town, you can feel the whole world rolling in off the sea to greet you. This is a strange, evocative town that you have to earn. Jennet and Ben, back in The Whitby Witches have to earn their presence within Whitby. They don’t get there easily nor painlessly, but they end up there when they’re needed. When they have to be. Whitby is a space between the worlds, a thin gauze between the human and the other, and such a town needs protectors. Aunt Alice was one.
Cherry Cerise is another. She’s the last of the Whitby Witches; a delicious bit of writing that I can adore and marry for it is perfect. This town has guardians, protectors, and it needs them right now because Whitby is facing its newest – and maybe darkest – hour. Young friends, Lil and Verne, embroiled in events they can’t begin to understand have to stand with Cherry and save their town from the brink of destruction.
I am a fan of Robin Jarvis. He writes big, British fantasy; stories that root themselves resolutely in space and place and explore the darkness of what may happen and what has already happened there. One distinguishing mark of his work are his great and deeply distinct illustrations. The Power Of Dark sings with little inked notes throughout; a sigil, the curve of a *spoiler* or the eyes of the Aufwaders who I had not realised how much I had loved and missed until I saw them look out at me from the pages.
The Power of Dark is the first in a series. A trilogy, I’m guessing. Jarvis fits well into trilogies and the rhythm of them; and this does have the mark of an overarching saga that makes me itch with potential. The Power of Dark is perhaps for a slightly younger audience than you may have expected, but even then, that’s a complex call to make because certain scenes are spine tingling and sharp and not to be read in the dark. I suspect this is one that might be quite fluid when it comes to age based reccomendations.
One other thing to note about The Power Of Dark is that I rather like the fact that it’s so exuberantly unnerving. Jarvis throws everything into this with a sort of delicious glee; there’s steampunk, goths, aufwaders, historic flashbacks, and witches. And it’s great. It rips along with an intense and madly engendering joy. This is a book that was, I suspect, begging to be written for a long time. And I’m really rather glad it was. The Power Of Dark is something that should be in the world, it really should. We are better for it.
Edit: 07/08/2016 – Robin has confirmed via Twitter (Twitter’s ace, isn’t it?) that there are going to be four books in this series. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and shriek with bookish joy…