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Satan's Child

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Mayflower, London, 1967
(price: 3/6, 128 pages)

The blurb on the back:

The unco' guid!
Because she was lively, amorous and beautiful, Elspet Malcolm was condemned to death as a witch in the small, pious, life-hating village of Kinskerchan in Lowland Scotland.
It would have been better if she had died without issue ... better for the inhabitants of Kinskerchan. But she left a son and a daughter, who swore a terrible revenge.
And there was only one end to that revenge. The total destruction, by individual and diabolical means, of all those who had condemned their mother to a witch's death by burning...

opening lines:
There were two sounds that morning in the village of Kimskerchan in the County of Dumbarton in the Kingdom of Scotland.

This is another of the Peter Saxon novels written by Wilfred Glassford McNeilly, and it's the best that I've read. Pre-dating even the Hammer classic Witchfinder General, it's a neat little story of witchcraft in Scotland in (I think) the 18th century. We start with the brutally, indeed salaciously, described execution of an innocent woman in a small ultra-Presbyterian Lowland village. Then - with the minimum of fuss - we jump forward to the revenge exerted on those who were responsible for her torment by her son, who has in the meantime become a major player in the world of the occult arts, his apprenticeship having taken him as far as Tibet before his return to Scotland.

The revenge is principally a series of sketches depicting characters brought low by a fatal flaw in their character, rather than a major Carrie-type conflict. Imagine, if you will, something between Death Wish and The Wicker Man as written by Robert Louis Stevenson, and you'll be expecting too much, but at least you'll be in the right direction.

A fine piece of work - someone really should have made a movie.

PS You may wish to note that a village named Kimskerchan in the text is referred to as Kinskerchan on the back of the book - did these publishers never employ proof-readers?

from the maker of...


Black Honey