Har­bour­ing a grudge

SFX - - Reviews - Paul Kirkley

re­leased 30 June 255 pages | Pa­per­back/ebook Au­thor robin Jarvis Pub­lisher eg­mont

Home to a dra­matic ru­ined abbey, weath­ered clifftop grave­stones and a full-time Drac­ula in­dus­try, Whitby has long been a mag­net for goths and week­end Wic­cans look­ing to re­plen­ish their stocks of amethyst and charm bracelets.

It’s an as­so­ci­a­tion sea­soned fan­tasy writer Robin Jarvis puts to good use in this first of a new YA series, in which the York­shire har­bour town be­comes the back­drop to the fi­nal bat­tle in a 400-year-old feud be­tween a wronged witch and her war­lock lover.

Teenage mis­fits Verne and Lily (the lat­ter the mor­ti­fied daugh­ter of a pair of cos­play­ing oc­cultists – think Ab Fab’s Saffy in black vel­vet) are the com­bat­ants’ un­wit­ting ves­sels, while the tit­u­lar Mis­ter Dark, a hanged man taken from the gal­lows and re­vived as the “knot-necked ser­vant” to a Ja­cobean di­a­bolist, makes for a suit­ably night­mar­ish vil­lain.

The early chap­ters read like a clas­sic chil­dren’s TV drama – the sort of spooky fare HTV made back in the day – while the cli­mac­tic bat­tle be­tween the walk­ing dead and a junkshop steam­punk army is more akin to the fi­nal reel of a mod­ern Hol­ly­wood block­buster. It’s a for­mula that’s sure to work its magic on read­ers.

Jarvis wrote a tril­ogy set in Whitby. He first vis­ited when study­ing graphic de­sign at New­cas­tle Polytech­nic.

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