Title: The Power of Dark
Author: Robin Jarvis
Series: The Witching Legacy #1
Genre: Children’s/MG Dark Fantasy
Age Range: 11+
Available: 30th June
An enthralling mix of magic and horror – first of a new series from fantasy legend Robin Jarvis.
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 artifact.
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?
Source: ARC from Egmont Publishing via NetGalley
Young fans of darker fantasy, who love the idea of floating skulls and exposed skeletons being whipped around by a storm, will find plenty to enjoy here. This first in a new series, is set in Whitby and makes full use of its popularity with Goths and fans of the macabre, but it also makes the most of its humour and is firmly aimed at its younger audience.
Lil and Verne have been friends forever. Lil’s parents are witches who run an occult shop and are walking advertisements for the arcane. Lil couldn’t be more different: she doesn’t believe in magic, she hates wearing black and she has big plans to shake up the entire town through the power of knitting. Verne’s family couldn’t be more ordinary, running the local arcade, but he longs for all the things Lil despises – magic and mystery and the mayhem of a zombie apocalypse. Despite their differences they’re great friends.
I liked Lil more of the two, since she’s strong-willed, knows her own mind and is much more involved in the story than Verne. I liked him to begin with too, but his character sort of fades out as the book goes on. Sadly, like some of my enjoyment.
It all starts really well, with darkness and foreboding and a storm and some amazing scenes that are fabulously horrifying. Then comes the mystery and the magic and mayhem right up almost to the end – but, for me, I felt the Scaur Annie side of things was a bit dull and predictable, lacking the same spark and menace as the earlier part of the book. I wasn’t particularly convinced by the way some things were resolved either, feeling a little letdown after such a great buildup. I wasn’t sure how any of it could be resolved, and then… well, I was left a little underwhelmed, and I’m pretty convinced ten-year-old me wouldn’t have been all that happy either.
Which is a shame, because for the most part this book is great fun, has some amazing ideas (the steampunk stuff is brilliant) and plenty of unsettling dark moments. The characters are interesting, there’s a nice sense of menace and there’s plenty of scope for more to come. If there’s a young reader in your life who likes ghoulish tales and a bit of dark magic amidst the light, then they’ll probably enjoy this. It’s well written and enjoyable, and hopefully they’ll like the ending more than I did.
The Power of Dark is out June 30th!
Visit Robin Jarvis for more details.