Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Whispering Knights - Penelope Lively

Penelope Lively's The Whispering Knights is more of a novella than a novel, as it's not 100 pages long. The book's title comes from the old legend about the Rollright Stones (here's a particularly good pencil drawing that shows a face in one of the stones).

Lively's story is located in the valley below the stones. Three children, William, Susie and Martha, decide to concoct a witch's brew in the old barn where they play, and William says a spell over it. William and Susie think they are just playing a game, but Martha is not so sure. And then the old lady who owns the barn, Miss Hepplewhite, confirms that they've done a rather dangerous thing, drawing the attention of Morgan le Fay, who once lived in the barn, and who has been in the area more than once in the past. Miss Hepplewhite tells them that Morgan may well come looking for them - and she does, and then things turn quite nasty - not just for the three children, but also for the entire village.

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Best-selling Australian fantasy author, Garth Nix, is the current writer-in-residence over at Inside a Dog - do check out his Blog - there's an interesting first piece on the importance of the number 9. Nix links to a piece by Alan Garner for The Times online, where he notes "The blank page is still terror, 50 years on" and looks back at half a century of writing, and how it all began. Garner is speaking at this year's Cheltenham Festival of Literature on October 14 - and I'm delighted to say that I've got a ticket and a lift to go down to Cheltenham for it ! A friend and I are going together - and you can be sure I'll be reporting back to you on what feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity !

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