Many years before the writing of 'The Haunting of Toby Jugg' , Dennis Wheatley had heard of a school in Devon which was co-educational and run on ultra-modern lines. The pupils would choose to attend classes or not as they liked, lie in bed all day if they wished and even abuse teachers that they disliked. It was rumoured that they were encouraged to attend Satanic gatherings in a ruined church nearby.
DW intended to use this information in a new book for Gregory Sallust.
The book was never completed but the idea was used many years later in 'THOTJ'. The Devon based school became Weylands in Cumberland and the ruined church became a ruined Abbey adjacent to Weylands school.
I have never been a big fan of books written in the narrative form. i.e. 'John did this and Harry did that' so, reading this book for the second time I had to get over my initial dislike of this method, as the bulk of this story is told via Toby Juggs journal.
I would add that the storyline is strong enough to get round this point and as the story progresses more conversation is introduced into the narration.
To the story:-
Toby Jugg believes that he is being haunted by some sort of 'octopus shaped' devil.
"I don't mean the sort that comes from knocking back too much Scotch. I mean one of those forces of evil that are said to have been let loose in the world after Satan and his host were defeated by the Archangel Michael and cast down out of Heaven."
TJ is now bedridden at a large house in the fictitious village of 'Llanferdrack' Radnor after being shot down by a German fighter plane. He has no use of his legs and is living in fear following the 'full moon hauntings' that appear as a shadow at the bottom of the North bay window in the library where he sleeps.
The curtain is 6" shorter than the window. As a result, Toby can see the shadowy shape of the creature projected onto the floor.
He has asked for the curtain to be lengthened; a light to be left on at night or someone to sit with him during the full moon but for various reasons nothing is done to assist him in his plight.
His only relatives seem to be a his crazy Great Aunt Sarah who lives in another wing of the house, his uncle Paul (his legal guardian) and Pauls wife, Aunt Julia who TJ is extremely fond of.
Paul and Julia do not live in the house in Llanferdrack and so they employ Helmuth Lisicky to manage the estate with the aid of his assistant Konrad; Deb Kain and Sally Cardew, (professional nurses) and an odd job man called Taffy.
Oh, and by the way TJ is about to inherit a fortune as heir apparent when he reaches the age of 21 next month.
I shan't spoil the ending for those of you who haven't read the book yet, but as you might expect in one of DW's occult novels there are some fascinating 'Satanic bits' towards the end of the book albeit with the usual very quick ending. I don't know why DW does this??? - 300 pages of build up and a 2 page finish!!
However, this is really a good quality read. Not in the same class as 'The Devil rides out' but still a very good 'Black magic novel'.
I keep thinking of the book Misery by Stephen King (without the Occult aspect) when I read THOTG.
Imitation being the greatest form of flattery.
The following comments I have managed to extract as points of interest;
Page 15 Hutchinson Hardback) - Toby Jugg has Grey eyes. (as does the Duke de Richleau) . I'm not sure where this fixation is coming from?
Page 28 When Toby was a young boy he meets what he believes to be a burglar on the stairway in the house. He does what every child would do and screams the house down. The figure flees upstairs whilst Uncle Paul, Aunt Julia and the maid and the cook arrive on the scene. They search the house but find no evidence of any break in whatsoever.
After several years have passed Toby meets up with the maid whilst he was leaving the RAF mess at Biggin hill. She explaines to Toby that the 'Burglar' he thought he saw was probably a ghost as Paul and Julia were "nuts about spiritualism" and were frequently holding sÃ©ances in the house.
The above incident was added to the book as this incident actually happed to DW himself when he was a boy of 9 nine years old staying in a friends house.
Page 45 - The ruined abbey at Weylands mentioned earlier was supposedly the stage for Continental Masonry. (Not connected with British Masonry). I say supposedly as it was used for something much more than a Masonic meeting.
By the way, Does anyone know if DW was a member of the Freemasons? He certainly throws in quite a few Masonic references.
Page 72 Hypnotism (especially hypnotism against the subjects will) crops up again as in The Devil Rides Out.
Page 84 - Guardian Angels mentioned. I think he's mentioned them in other books.
DW is very 'New Age' considering the Old age of these books.
Page120 - Here we find the routine dig at the Jewish race and the Communists.
Page 170 - I like the way DW calls the moon 'She' i.e.
Tomorrow 'she' will be passing into her last quarter. and ..
The light 'she' gives is nowhere near as bright as it was. !!!!!!
Page 239 - DW waves the reincarnation flag (I'm sure he was a closet . That doesn't necessarily mean anything nasty quite the opposite in fact)
I do like the idea of reincarnation (as he does). There is some sound logic to it. Although if you don't know what you've done in past lives, how do you know whether you are moving nearer or further away from 'Nirvana'?
Or are we already there?
How do we know when we arrive?
Is it a physical or spiritual arrival? If physical it's got to be a big place.
Do we all eventually get there?
Page 241 - The Winged Pharaoh by Joan Grant is mentioned as a source of info on reincarnation. This book is now number 22 in the DW Library of the Occult series.
Page 243 - The saying, "Throwing my shoes over the moon" is used by Sally Cardew. The inference is, 'losing ones virginity'. I've never heard this saying before.
Page 266 - The term 'Trunk call' is used. I know it refers to a phone call but why 'Trunk call' and why is this different from an ordinary call.
Its interesting that DW has opted for a fictitional location in Wales in this story and also switched the location of the school from Devon to Cumberland.
In 'The Devil Rides Out' he names the actual towns and villages involved.
Oh, and Justerini's were not mentioned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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- Bob Rothwell
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- Location: Peterborough, UK