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Jarvis, Robin

Dracula steps unerringly from the page to the imagination. Sutcliffe's sepia-prints and the proud figure of Abbess Hilda are similarly memorable. Robin Jarvis' Whitby trilogy, alas, is something I'd prefer to forget.

Something must have caught my eye and made a good impression when I first picked the Whitby Witches out of the shelves at Stirling Books, something more convincing than the red-eyed dog on the front cover or the old biddy – clearly a relative of Margaret Rutherford's Miss Marple – on the back. What this something might be now eludes me. Even the old lady's comment on Captain Cook falls a little flat now I go back to the book in search of something positive to say about it:

Captain James Cook was a very famous mariner … He discovered Australia, you know. Still, we must not hold that against the man.

This book is the first in one of the author's many trilogies, and totters closer to the brink of ridiculous each time it takes a step towards the supernatural. Not a fault in itself, but a risk the author – and his publisher's readers, for goodness' sake – should have noticed and taken steps to avoid. As for his style, by the time we reach the third book every mighty and apocalyptic adjective in the English language has been dragged unwillingly and ineptly into service.