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The Dark is Rising

7 Dec

I have a lot of respect for so-called children’s fantasy novels because in so many ways they have laid the foundations for the wider fantasy genre to flourish. The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia are probably the first and most famous examples of fantasy books for children and both their setting and plot have influenced many an author who has since gone on to write for a more mature audience. Later series, like the Wizard of Earthsea and more recently His Dark Materials, have blurred the distinction between fantasy novels for children and adults while pushing the envelope of the genre in clever and challenging ways, inspiring a whole new generation of authors to create weird and wonderful worlds for readers to discover. With my own personal interest in myth and folklore, some of my favourite novels as a child were those that blended fantasy and reality, featuring an interaction between the mundane modern world and an ancient realm of unsleeping magic and darkness. These included the Snow Spider novels of Jenny Nimmo, Alan Garner’s brilliant quartet of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath, Elidor and The Owl Service, and Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising sequence.

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