Title: Enchantment of the Black Dog
Series title: The Portland Chronicles
Author: Carol Hunt
RRP: £5.99
Publication date: 6 Dec 2010
Format: 198 x 130 mm
Number of pages: 152
Illustrations: 7

ISBN: 978-1-906651-07-7

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This is the second in the series of children's books, The Portland Chronicles, by author Carol Hunt. In Enchantment of the Black Dog, Isabel Maydew sets out to unravel the mystery of the phantom Black Dog of Portland. The story features time travel to the English Civil War years and to the Ice Ages, when snow wolves roamed the Isle of Portland. Joined by a Southwell fairy and a cool surf-dude, Isabel finds clues to the true identity of the mysterious Black Dog. The story begins with a letter from Isabel's arch-enemy Miranda Greychurch.

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Isabel Maydew asked me to write an introduction for her story about the Black Dog of Portland. Of course, I know far more than she does about the black dog and nearly caught the animal hundreds of times. In fact, if it were not for Isabel, this would be a book about me and the black dog. Isabel is really annoying.

     Anyway, the black dog is a Portland legend and an omen of bad luck. Black dogs appear out of nowhere and then vanish. Cave Hole at Portland Bill is supposed to be the lair of one of the dogs, the Roy Dog, a very frightening creature. I could tell you a lot of stuff about black dogs, but, as Isabel will show you, the real black dog of Portland turned out to be a lot more mysterious than anyone had imagined

Miranda Greychurch, age 14, Church Ope, Portland


Extract from the book, Chapter 1

Far across Lyme Bay, the first soft golden lights of dawn crept like fingers over the horizon. Isabel Maydew yawned. She was lying face down on the West Cliffs of Portland, among the wild pink thrift and yellow samphire flowers, with her eyes and nose just over the edge of the sheer plummet. Herring gulls wheeled around her, squawking at the 12-year-old girl lurking near their rocky home. Isabel waited patiently. ‘Any second now,’ she sighed, struggling to stay alert. Suddenly, a low wailing cry echoed across the sea, making her skin crawl. ‘Urrgh!’ she said, putting her fingers in her ears. As the wailing died away, she peered around, her ears still prickling. She squinted along the rocky shore.
     Far below her, Isabel glimpsed a glittering tail in the inky, white-topped waves at the foot of the cliffs, then a white arm, then a swirl of coiling blood-red hair. ‘The mermaid!’ breathed Isabel. In the mermaid’s hand was a silvery conch shell. She raised her hand and blew into the seashell. Her green eyes roamed across the sea to the sky, then to the cliffs, and fixed on Isabel. ‘Oh no!’ Isabel rolled out of sight and lay on her back, looking at the last flickering stars of the April night, screwing up her face against the eerie noise

About the Author

Carol is the author of The Portland Chronicles, a series of stories set on Portland. Her writing is inspired by the magic and mystery of the Isle and combines history with local myths and legends. She studied English Literature and History, has worked with young people as an adviser, and loves to share her writing experience and imagination with youngsters. Carol has three children and lives in Easton, Portland. In her free time, she tries to windsurf and enjoys walking, looking for sea dragons, fairies and spooky black dogs. Her blog ( and Facebook pages (Portland Chronicles and Portland Sea Dragon) have lots more interesting stuff about Portland and what she’s up to.

Since the publication of her first novel, The Portland Sea Dragon, Carol has visited a number of schools and libraries to give talks about writing, including:

Damers First School, Dorchester
Radipole Junior School, Weymouth
St George's Primary School, Portland
All Saints C of E School, Weymouth
Budmouth Technology College, Weymouth
Royal Manor Arts College, Portland
St Augustine's School, Weymouth
Swanage Library
Weymouth Library

What inspired the new story about the Black Dog?
I have been fascinated by spooky black dogs for a long time. There seems to be no rational explanation for them, yet they have been spotted across the centuries and Portland has three phantom Black Dogs. As I wrote the story, I felt that these apparitions told us a lot about who we are as people and I read with great interest the research into how and why we perhaps see these creatures. The link is shown below to some intriguing research by Dr Simon Sherwood at the University of Northampton on black dog apparitions.

Who is your favourite character in this story?
One of my favourite characters is new to the Chronicles. He's called Ryder and is a surf-dude who joins Isabel on her adventures. I enjoyed writing about him because he's not as cool as he thinks. However, he means well and does his best to capture the black dog for the mer-babe, as he calls the sinister Portland mermaid.

Does Enchantment of the Black Dog include time travel?
Isabel visits two very different eras in this story. The first is the start of the Civil War in 1642, when Isabel meets Stella Groves. She also returns to the Ice Ages and meets the snow wolves, who help her unravel the clues to the black dog's story and travel across time with her to this fascinating epoch.

What local places feature in this story?
Portland Castle is a very important part of the story, and the final conflict between the mermaid and the black dog takes place there. Built in the Tudor period by Henry VIII, the castle is an inspiring setting and I did a lot of research into its history. Church Ope Cove is also important in the story, with its many historic connections and links to mermaid legends.

About the Illustrator

Please CLICK HERE for information about the illustrator, Domini Deane.

 Many people have remarked on the back cover image of the Giant’s Head by artist Domini Deane. The actual stone feature can be found on the cliffs below the end of Grove Road. Gary Biltcliffe brought this craggy limestone face to light in his book The Spirit of Portland.

Phantom Black Dogs

Carol describes her research into Phantom Black Dogs:
     'My favourite Portland stories include an intriguing collection of phantom black dog sightings. There are at least three black dogs associated with Portland. The Roy Dog is a large shaggy black dog with one green and one red eye associated with Cave Hole at Portland Bill. Skylark Durston told the best known story about him: two friends meet the lighthouse keeper near Portland Bill one evening to go fishing. After fishing for a while, the friends leave before the keeper and on the way home meet the Roy Dog licking his paw. Worried about their friend, they return to find the keeper lying dead, with the claw of a huge dog on the end of his fishing line.
     Another Portland black dog is the Row Dog, a ghostly animal with large saucer-shaped eyes who wanders local footpaths at night. And a third phantom black dog has been spotted at Portland Castle, among other ghostly visitors such as the Lavender Lady. The Portland Castle black dog, which sometimes follows on the heels of visitors, seems friendlier than the Row and Roy dogs!
     While researching my own story about the black dog, I found that there were other ghostly dogs in Dorset. Like the Roy Dog, they are often seen near water or during storms. And like the Row Dog, they are also spotted at night. Theories about these sightings link them to ley lines, and even ancient pagan gods. Interestingly, black dogs are often found in the same place as other rural phantoms such as headless horsemen, and fairies. As I wrote my story about the Portland black dog, I felt these ghostly legends had something to tell us about Portland, about the past, maybe even about who and what we really are.'

Click HERE for a fascinating article from the November issue of Dorset Magazine on the ghosts of Portland Castle - including a BLACK DOG!

Scroll to page 36 for the article.


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Interesting Links

Carol's favourite link is to the Dark Dorset website:

If you want to read in-depth research on the Black Dog phenomena, refer to Apparitions of Black Dogs:'

Black dogs in folklore by Bob Trubshaw:

Black Dogs on Wikipedia:

Black Dogs on Monstropedia:

Canine Constellations:

Carol's favourite book about scary phantom dogs is The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle