Josephine Poole Pamela Marsh - Essay

Pamela Marsh

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Menaces and warnings, lonely moors and abandoned ruins, not to mention a pair of grimly determined bizarre-looking hunters—all suggest unlikely melodrama [in Catch as Catch Can]…. But Mrs. Poole has a knack of surrounding the terrifying with the everyday and making both routine and terror convincing. Good writing in fact makes her story almost too realistic for adults, though most 10-12-year-olds are tough enough to take it.

Pamela Marsh, "'A Pause in the Day's Occupations …' Known as the Tuned-Down Children's Hour," in The Christian Science Monitor (reprinted by permission from The Christian Science Monitor; © 1970 The Christian Science Publishing Society; all rights reserved), November 12, 1970, p. B2.

[The Visitor, published in England as Billy Buck, is another] revival of English country witchery, sparked by a most diverting devil—the lanky, violin playing tutor Bogle…. The theme of Christian vs. pagan is implicitly developed here in the conflict between the upper class interlopers and the yeomen (though perhaps at the expense of developing the characters of Harry and Margaret). But the real tension—comparable to the high suspense generated by Catch As Catch Can (1970)—arises from the contrast between Bogle's comfortably eccentric exterior and dark, evil void that lurks behind his eyes. (pp. 1153-54)

"Older Fiction: 'The Visitor'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1972 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XL, No. 19, October 1, 1972, pp. 1153-54.

[Billy Buck] is a variation of the theme of the ancient, ritual and sacrificial horndance, this time initiated by a Mr. Bogle, come, nominally, to tutor a boy recovering from illness; but otherwise Billy Buck, the devil himself. It is properly and effectively sinister. The main characters are perhaps somewhat peripheral…. The strength of this book is very much more in its ritual, the primitive hates and fears worked up among the villagers by Billy Buck, in the scenes where a whole community stirs and then erupts. Josephine Poole knows how to use words and holds you by a skilful juggling of chilling detail and panoramic impression.

"Keeping Magic in Its Place," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1972; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 3687, November 3, 1972, p. 1325.