Lore Hoar is an information consultant living in Calgary.
Witchery Hill has as its setting the little island of Guernsey in the middle of the English Channel. In addition to its original ownership by the Normans, who left an obvious French influence, Guernsey has a folklore steeped in witchcraft. This is the pivotal point about which this tale by Welwyn Wilton Katz revolves.
Mike Lewis, a fourteen-year-old boy from Madison, Wisconsin, spends his summers with his father, a newspaper journalist who has developed a name for himself. Each vacation has taken Mike to a different part of the world. This summer Mike and his father are the house guests of the St. George family on Guernsey. The St. George house is a stern, gray structure called Saupierre and one of its chimneys has a stone platform sticking out of it near the top — a witch’s seat. Behind Saupierre rises a single tall hill that has a number of tall, tooth-shaped standing stones set here and there all the way up the otherwise barren slope. Mike is told that there is a tomb at the very top of the hill and that the local witches stopped holding Friday night meetings there only fifteen years before.
With some prompting from the thirteen-year-old St. George daughter, Lisa, and some strange nocturnal activities on the hill, Mike is inextricably drawn into a curious web of witchcraft and treacherous intrigue. When his host becomes inexplicably ill, the adults in the story retreat into themselves in order to cope with this serious development. Mike finds that he is alone with some valuable information that only the wrong people will believe and, therefore, he is in grave danger.
The writer of this exotic tale is able to stimulate the senses as well as the intellect. One is able to smell the incense at the witch’s ceremony and feel one’s skin tingling under the probing scrutinies of an ocular examination. The witchcraft described in this book is of a primitive, unelaborated nature but is satisfyingly terrifying just the same. This gripping tale is an excellent read.