The Ghost of Ivy Barn by Mark Stay
Today, I am taking a look at The Ghost of Ivy Barn by Mark Stay. This is the third in the Witches of Woodville series, which is a series that I absolutely adore. If you haven't read these books they are well worth your time and I am sure you will find them as loveable as I do.
ABOUT THE BOOK
They Used Dark Forces!
Here we are again! Back in the sleepy village of Woodville with Fay Bright et al for the third book in the Witches of Woodville series.
It's now 1940, and the Battle of Britain rages overhead with dog fights between the German Luftwaffe and Britain and its allies.
Following the events of Babes in the Wood, things have irrevocably changed in both the Witches council as Vera Twelve trees has been removed as Head of the council due to her being investigated after the incident with Otto Kopf in the last book. Meanwhile, in the village of Woodville, Faye Bright is getting used to the magical power that will change her life forever, and she wants to get some serious canoodling in with Bertie!
In The Ghost of Ivy Barn, there a few things going on. One of the residents of the village has asked Faye, Mrs Teach and Charlotte Southill to send a ghost who has been hanging around the barn on its merry way to the afterlife
As usual, the talents of the three witches work a treat. What they don't bargain on is that there is another ghost knocking about who has other plans.
In addition to that, the new head of the witch's council, Bellamy Dumonde has a plan to repel the oncoming Nazi invasion, which involves getting as many witches together from around the British Isles and doing a powerful ritual. However, one problem is that the ritual has to be done in the 'nuddy'!
You can imagine how that goes, can't you?
I do love this series, Mark Stay writes the most brilliant characters and you cannot help but love them all, yes at times it can be a bit ‘jolly hockeysticks’, but I think that that is part of the appeal. I grew up on Ealing comedies, and have an inimitable fondness for them, and The Witches of Woodville evoke that sense of cosiness that I associate with watching things like that. Furthemore, Mark Stay gently subverts the genre in the best possible way and instead of it being the hoity toity middle class heroes, our Faye is firmly rooted in the everyday folk making her a much more believable and rounded character. Mark Stay graces us with the usual smatterings of comedy, a healthy dash of fantasy, a little horror. There is a scene that reminded me very much of The Devil Rides Out where Charles Grey uses the mirror to talk to Tanith in the film, and again that is always going to resonate with me as whilst I am not sure if these things have anything to do with the book but it gives me the feeling of my favourite things which hooks me in that little bit further.
Another thing that I like about The Ghost of Ivy Barn is that there is a very definite sense of progression in the story and you can see some of the gradual evolvement coming with the series. When we originally met Faye Bright in The Crow Folk, she was simply an innocent mouthy teenager. However, as both the war becomes inherently more difficult and Faye has increasing powers, events are changing her.
And when we talk about the war, we see that now, instead of the predicted 'this war will be over in a few months' that was originally forecasted, we see the strains of the protracted conflict is having on the community around and how it is changing the landscape forever. Not just in the physical sense, but in the effects it is having on communities and individuals as it becomes more demanding, and even Faye herself has to do things she would not envision herself doing.
However, Mark Stay pulls all these aspects of the story off with the deftness of craftsman, painting a veneer of lightness over some of the darker knots.
If you fancy reading this series, then I suggest you start reading from the first book, The Crow Folk. The stories themselves are self contained stories, but you need to know the events of the other books to get that full picture.