The Cleft Owl

Occult Deception in 17th-century Devon

The Cleft Owl – a tender discomfort and a gory crown.

Witness the work of a practitioner of the occult arts, a willing deceiver and interpreter of dreams, schooled in awe by a house of God rendered a charnel house by a fiery, dancing orb of light. Self-tutored in greed, and self-assured in his deceptions, ‘Dr’ Robert 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 villager’s 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.

A standalone novella in the West Country Tales series. Available free to download for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, otherwise for 99p/99c or local equivalent. To preview, or purchase a copy from Amazon, please click either here, or on the cover image above. Also available as part of Anthology: Wry Out West alongside four other tales as a Kindle ebook, or as a paperback.