I first read this book around the age of 10, and I remember being blown away by it, and for a story written in the 1960s I remember it having a timeless quality to it that it didn’t feel like it was a story set in the time when it was written.
That was thirty years ago now. I wanted to re-read it, and its sequel The Moon of Gomrath because of the release of Alan Garner’s release last year of the third in the trilogy, Boneland.
The story still has the same timeless quality to it and, aside from the absence of the usual trappings of 21st life, the story of Colin and Susan could be Now. Where I do find the book lacking (and I don’t remember finding this when I first read it as a child) is that Colin and Susan are thrust into the story of Cadellin and the stone without any introduction, argument, or will. They are assumed to be playing the part in the story and as such things just happen to them. As a reader I find myself detached from the story because I’m not allowed to guess ahead at might happen (and be neither right, nor surprised), and I feel that the children are similarly bound by it. Even Gowther is unquestionable in acceptance of the incredible things that happen.