Thursday, 20 February 2020

The Moon of Gomrath - Alan Garner

First published in 1963, The Moon of Gomrath is one of Garner's novels for younger readers, the follow-up to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. I have no idea why I didn't read it when it came out; I was old enough or thereabouts. Instead I have had to wait the better part of sixty years.

What I admire about Garner is that he doesn't write down to his audience. This is a book of magic and monsters, about as far from Cinderella and Monsters as it is possible to get. His monsters step out from a midnight-dark Celtic past and they are bloody and vengeful. Here we have the Morrigan, the original and ultimate predatory female, along with the shapeless Bodach and the Wild Hunter. They rampage about Alderley Edge, then (in 1963) the deep rural wilderness above Manchester, now the place where Manchester footballers build their mansions.

The monsters are much more vivid than our ostensible heroes, Susan and Michael. Michael, especially, seems to specialise in being sent out of the way as often as possible. The mythical beings who back them up - the wizard, the dwarf, the elf and the other chap - are pretty insipid, too. The evil ones are what really grab the imagination.

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