The story so far: after being part of the Parasearch crew he co-led with Graham Phillips, who were responsible for getting the whole “psychic questing” thing kicked off – as chronicled in Phillips and Martin Keatman’s books The Green Stone and The Eye of Fire – Andrew Collins caused a bit of a stir of his own when he put out The Black Alchemist and The Seventh Sword, his own accounts of psychic questing exploits.
The Seventh Sword overlapped to an extent with matters discussed in The Green Stone, but it was The Black Alchemist which really made waves. Bearing delightfully sacrilegious cover art and claiming to reveal the secret behind the Great Storm of 1987, it featured Andrew and his psychic colleague Bernard experiencing a series of psychic run-ins with the titular Black Alchemist – supposedly a nefarious occultist who performed dodgy rituals in sacred sites with the intent of making corrupt use of the British ley line network. Despite never actually confronting the Black Alchemist in the flesh, Collins and Bernard purportedly had repeated psychic clashes with the chap as they tried to disrupt his evil works.
As with much psychic questing stuff, it was almost certainly the result of either deliberate hoaxing or a deliberate desire to believe leading to an indulgence of apophenia, Bernard and Andrew yes-anding each other into believing they were tangling with a real life Dennis Wheatley villain and his coterie of co-conspirators. Still, it was a fun story to entertain even if you didn’t actually believe it, which probably helped the book sell well – a little attention-grabbing controversy from evangelical Christian quarters objecting to the book on moral grounds didn’t hurt. A more direct sequel than The Seventh Sword was probably inevitable.
That sequel was 1993’s The Second Coming. This opens with they disruption of one of the Black Alchemist’s grand plans by Andrew and his colleagues when they stand on top of a hill and yes-and each other into thinking that they are under assault from astral wolves. If this incident sounds familiar, it might be because I mention it in my review of The Black Alchemist – for in the 2015 revision of that book, it’s tacked onto the end to provide a somewhat more satisfying conclusion than was provided in the original version, which just sort of ceases rather abruptly without really coming to any sort of conclusion.
Indeed, in the epilogue of The Second Coming Collins notes that the most common bit of feedback he received about The Black Alchemist was “shame about the ending”. He argues that this is a consequence of the book being an account of real events which were still kind of ongoing as the book was being finished, and which didn’t really offer a nice neat confrontation with the big bad, but for this go-around – covering developments in the case from 1988 to 1991 – he’s selected as a stopping-point an incident at Whitby, since that seemed to be suitably dramatic.
That incident, dear readers, was when Andrew Collins and his friends defeated Dracula.