Fantasy & Beyond

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Following along from the discussion with @Elfy about doing a favourite genre book for each Alive Year - I was very sad to discover that some of my most favourite books as a child were actually first published before I was born.

So am “cheating” slightly & doing a post with these before concentrating on those for each year.

The Owl Service - Alan Garner 1967
The Weirdstone of Brisgamen is generally the first book by Garner that people will reference, but it has always taken second place for me to this one.
A retelling / reimagining of the tale of Blodeuwedd from the Mabinogion.
Three teens re-enact the story when Alison finds a dinner setting in the attic which she traces the pattern to make owls. It’s implied that this has happened in the previous generation but with bad consequences. And has happened cyclically before that as well.
Why I Love it - I would have read this in the early 80s for the first time, my aunt had given me Elinor for a birthday so I was looking for other books by the same author. I was struck by the cover art to start with, and this version is the One True Cover *.* . I lost my original book at some point, and haunted the second-hand shops to find another one with the Right Cover.
The themes are love - obsessive, unrequited, family for starters. And how stories repeat over generations.
It’s one of the early books I read that was a reimagined myth - and it started a love for them that’s still going strong (probably my favoured sub-genre to read still).

The Eagle of the Ninth - Rosemary Sutcliff 1954
This series is the start of my love of stories set in Roman Britain (and history in general). Actually, she is responsible for most of my early experiences with history.
An ex-soldier travels beyond Hadrian’s Wall with a freed British slave to discover what happened to his father’s missing Legion & their Eagle Standard.
Why I Love it - commenced my love of history & historical novels. Roman Britain was an early love, and translated early n into all versions of King Arthur.

Swallows & Amazons - Arthur Ransome (series) started 1930
Adventure series set on a “make believe” Lake District pre-Ww2. The Walkers (based on real-life Altouynan family he knew) , and the Blackett sisters (Nancy & Peggy), who are Pirates.
General mild summer (and winter) adventures involving sailing & other outdoors pursuits. Two (or maybe three) are fictional adventures, I don’t enjoy those ones as much on a re-read.
Why I Love it - as someone who spent most holidays outside in nature, but also has a vivid imaginary life, the simple fun of pirate raids & camping on the lake appealed to me.

The Chronicles of Prydain - Lloyd Alexander 1964-1968
Hard to choose one in particular, it’s a single story in 5 books, and I usually read it that way. Least favourite would be Taran Wanderer as there is a total lack of my favourite character Eilonwy.
Another story based on Welsh myths, but not direct retelling.
Why I love it - another early introduction to Welsh myths. Also an early introduction to a (gently) kick ass heroine who doesn’t need to be rescued every book :)
It’s a pity the movie is so bloody awful though!

Next time - a book from the year I was born! (The most well-known of the seres, but not my favourite of them).
Elfy, ScarletBea, DragonFlame and 1 others liked this
When I started to think about doing my lifetime reading list, I thought through some of my favourites when I was about the same age you were when you read yours, so then I looked a few up, and they were mostly published years before I was born. They tended to span the genres the way yours did, too. Back then we only had ‘kids books’ and and ‘adults books’ and the twain never met. Genres were around, but they weren’t as obviously defined as they now seem to be.
They used to do that sneaky thing of republishing old favourites so they seemed new to us, even though they were actually fairly old. If children's books don't hit you at the right age, you just miss them and maybe never hear of them, so I certainly don't mind a few classics being republished.

Another one I remember is John Gordon's The Giant Under the Snow. I remember picking it out from one of those Puffin promo leaflets when I was at school, some time in the 80s. It was published in 1968. Nice creepy folklore adventure, in a similar vein to Alan Garner.