The Black Chesters

Paul Doherty has struck gold again, writing another masterful piece of historical fiction: Devil’s Wolf. Set at Alnwick Castle and Tynemouth Priory, both places I have visited and admired, the fictional but admirable Sir High Corbett, King’s Clerk, is on a mission to Northumbria on royal business. He finds himself caught in the schemes and plots of a coven of warlocks, the Black Chesters. Although the group was manufactured by Doherty’s fertile imagination, the Anglo-Scottish borders were known for their lawlessness and disregard for mother church.

The same month as I read Devil’s Wolf, the British Church Newspaper reported an increase in occultic activity among the young. Secularists must be truly perplexed. Having successfully stifled the Church, liberated young people are not turning to rationalism but contacting spirits. Our country imitates Doherty’s medieval Northumberland, with its rejection of organised religion and traditional authority.

Back to the book. Having successfully foiled an attempt by the Black Chesters to destroy St Oswin’s shrine at Tynemouth, Corbett unmasks Paracelsus their leader and despatches his acolytes. He finally sails off to Scarborough, only to be watched from the cliffs by other members of the group, plotting dastardly revenge. Doherty’s book can be consigned to the safe realms of fiction; Britain’s current fixation with occultic ritual is sadly too real. Perhaps the Black Chesters exist after all.

Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:11-12).

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay