British writer of children's fantasy books, born in 1934. He is responsible for, in no particular order, The Owl Service, Elidor, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath (the sequel to Weirdstone), Red Shift, The Stone Book, Strandloper, and The Book of British Fairy Tales (of which, he was the editor).

The books are, on the whole, routinely excellent. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen is magnificent, about a wizard who looks after a band of knights who are held in a magical sleep. The stone that controls the magic, though, has been stolen, and ends up as a trinket on the bracelet of Susan. She, and her brother Colin, are beset by all manner of nasties whilst they fight to get the stone back to where it belongs. Okay, so it sounds fairly hackneyed, but it's not: there are some terrifying moments, notably the when the children are trapped 200 or so feet below ground in a tunnel which is gradually getting narrower and narrower as they crawl along it. Scared me at any rate.

The Moon of Gomrath is less successful, although elements of it are far more frightening: a ruined house which is mysteriously rebuilt whenever the moon shines on it; a horn which releases the magic of the world when blown; an evil force which possesses the living, but always feels like the thing it possessed before: weird. In general great stuff.

Elidor seems to be for the slightly younger reader, though still rattles on very effectively. The Owl Service is rather vaguer and more obtuse, a more adult thing, perhaps. Red Shift is almost impenetrable in my experience. As far as kids' literature goes, though, he really is in a class of his own.

He lives in Alderley in Cheshire, England.

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