Garner, Alan


2 out of 5

(1 book)


Whilst exploring an abandoned slum in Manchester, three brothers and their sister are transported to the mystical realm of Elidor.  There they recover four Treasures, a sword, a spear, a cup and a stone, and are tasked with protecting them once back in their own world.  However, the power of the Treasures cannot be contained and they begin to draw things from Elidor into the children's world.

This book is very well thought of in fantasy circles and I've always heard good things about it.  I do remember seeing some of the TV adaption as a child but hated it, which perhaps should have clued me in, because I found 'Elidor' to be hugely overrated.  The plotting is shallow and derivative (Lewis took the Pevensie children to Narnia a full fifteen years before this was published) and Elidor is totally underdeveloped.  It's hard to be invested in an adventure about crossing to a fantastical world if that world is not at all compelling.  There was very little description, no sense of wonder to it and, honestly, you don't understand why the children should care what goes on there once they're back in their own world.

The characters are largely annoying too.  Just as it's hard to care about Elidor, it's similarly difficult to like a group of children who gaslight one of their number, despite having seen the exact same things themselves.  To draw on the Narnia comparison again, at least in 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' the other children have the excuse of not believing Lucy because she's the only one who's been to Narnia to begin with.  Here, all four children went to Elidor and saw the magical goings-on and yet still treat their brother Roland like he's a total nutter for continuing to mention the fact that it happened.

There was only one redeeming feature about this book for me (which is why I've given it two out of five instead of one out of five) and that's the way that Garner manages to convey the spooky sense of menace as the world of Elidor begins to press in against the 'real' world.  The electrical disturbances, the shadows where they shouldn't be and, best of all, the eye pressed to the letterbox were all great tension builders.  A shame that the payoff was a total anticlimax.
2 out of 5


Fantasy (here)