While the books are not bad, this will be the last book of Oliphant's that I read. It was closer to a romance than it was much of a fiction about the occult.
The Warlock himself never seems so terrible. He has certain powers of being able to appear and disappear within a certain distance of the ruined castle. He does push Walter to marry for money. However, none of this is worse than a father doing the same for his son. He seems to hold no malice. An accident years before befell the previous lord and his love interest, however it would appear that it was an accident and that the warlock had not really meant for that to happen.
The scene during the climax of the story takes place in the tower. The setting itself has a vestige of interest to me:
A great telescope occupied a place in the centre of the room, and various fine instruments, some looking like astronomical models, stood on tables about. The curtained walls were hung with portraits, one of which she recognised as that of the last Lord Erradeen. And in the centre of all supported on a table with a lamp burning in front of it, the light of which (she supposed), blown about by the sudden entrance of the air, so flickered upon the face that the features seemed to change and move, was the portrait of Walter.These instruments seem to be that of science. Like how the Catholics of Galileo's day shut him up in a tower to gaze at the stars. This is contrasted with religion later on about how God basically saves them and they live happily ever after with generous hearts to serve the poor and needy.
The warlock himself disappears from the area at the end, and really does very little to fight against the couple. He does resist, but no more so than any other parent might want to when a couple wants to get married that is not of their choosing. What's more, considering that he has a portrait of Walter on the wall, it would seem that he had some care for him and that he never intended him any harm. Indeed, throughout the three books, there was never a sense that the warlock wanted evil for him or wished any harm to him. In volume two, he even said that he appreciated the good that Walter had done for the poor on his estate, and that he wanted Walter to be the face of good for him.
I think if I had been in Walter's shoes, I would have been fascinated with such a warlock. I would have loved to discuss his philosophies, learned his interests, competed (perhaps poorly) in a good game of chess. In any case, the end is that Oona sets fire to the castle tower, and there must have been some kind of explosives to cause such a big explosion. By pure 'luck' or 'grace of God' they both manage to survive the blast.
I am disappointed with this story, even if it was fairly well written. It would be like ordering a spicy meal only to discover that a mere sprinkle of spice was added. It just didn't meet my expectation. I do not recommend it. I say that despite the fact that Oliphant was a skilled narrator.