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The Power of Dark by Robin Jarvis. Book Review

July 2, 2016

The Power of Dark

The town of Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast, home to friends Verne Thistlewood and Lil Wilson, is no stranger to the supernatural and for good reason it seems, because something is brewing in the storm about to sweep over it. The town legend of the brief liaison between magician Melchior Pyke and the witch Scaur Annie which created a mysterious invention, known as the Nimius, and their subsequent betrayal by Pyke’s evil manservant Mister Dark, is about to make itself felt in the present day, with a vengeance.

A Robin Jarvis book is always something to look forward, no matter what age you are, and follows the usual form. Expect a highly imaginative story (bizarre inventions meet old magical entities) with terrific atmosphere (Whitby at its most storm lashed) scary bits (anything to do with Mr Dark) and lots of and great characters (the flamboyant witch Cherry Cerise).

Lil’s parents are the owners of an occult shop who insist on dressing in black ‘with a strong Victorian twist. As Lil’s wardrobe endures the same fate, her choice of rebellion is to be an imaginative, stealth yarn bomber, using bright colours as an antidote to Whitby’s acquired Goth heritage.

Verne’s parents run an arcade. They have a fascination for everything steampunk and his father harbours a particular passion for automatons, the latest acquisition he is trying to repair being a particularly grisly subject.

Lil and Verne are younger protagonists than you would expect from a young adult novel, although this is in many way a book with an ensemble cast, which should give it a wide age range appeal (including adults like me who place Jarvis’s books in the ‘curl up with a large hot drink and a plate of biscuits’ enjoyment category). It is a book that will take more than one reading to properly scoop up all the details and enjoy the often juxtaposed mix of humour and light horror.

The Power of the Dark is a Box of Delights type of book where there’s a sinister hidden world existing in parallel to the one you know and can see, unless you’re a witch like Cherry. This becomes evident as Whitby becomes gradually and wonderfully skewed out of reality as the supernatural and gruesome elements begin to take over and East and West Whitby square up to one another for a great battle, when past collides with the present in what is essentially a time slip novel.

I have not yet been to Whitby, but do feel this is the type of book that encourages a visit to the place, just to take a tour round the story. But when I go I will be expecting to see skeletons tumbling out of the church yard, Cherry steaming through the streets in shocking pink attire, and evidence of Lil’s knitting stretched over Captain Cook’s whale bone arch, or there will be complaints.

The Power of Dark was courtesy of Egmont Publishing via NetGalley

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