The Cleft Owl – H.E. Bulstrode

Occult Deception in 17th-century Devon.

‘Dr’ Robert Tooley is up before daybreak, gathering the stock of his trade: phials of powdered snakestone, thunderbolts and Devil’s toenails. Self-tutored in greed, and self-assured in his deceptions, Tooley would have many think him able to command the dead and have them do his bidding, but as his demands grow greater, so the villagers’ doubts grow deeper; there will be an end to it all, and not a pretty one.

Based upon a little-known and strange case that unfolded in Widecombe-in-the-Moor during the late 17th century, a number of the characters here portrayed – Tooley, the Reverend Tickle and the Worshipful Sir William Bastard – all played a role in the life of this tightly-knit community. Lost in obscurity, this episode is here resurrected, and the dead pressed to speak.

This novella is a standalone work in the ‘West Country Tales’ series, and is also available in paperback, or Kindle ebook format, alongside four other tales in ‘Anthology: Wry Out West’.