Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Author: William Mayne

Published in: 1965

Age Range: Young Teens

Period: Late 20th C

Genres:  Fantasy


David & Keith are schoolboys who meet a drummer boy on the hillside for whom am hour-long journey down a tunnel has taken three hundred years. He is carrying a mysterious candle which he leaves behind when he returns into the tunnel. David is mesmerised by the candle and he and Keith see strange things around which others eventually notice: giants on the hillside, extinct wild boar, and King Arthur's army. Then David disappears, presumed dead. Keith realises he must bring him back.


David is a moderate rationalist, applying some spurious reasoning about prayer being telepathy. Apart from that, you've only got the usual standing- stones-and-giants stuff to get through. The writing is very atmospheric and portrays the two boys very well, but shows its age (30 years) and appears a little dated perhaps because of it: David translates the Odes of Horace to calm his mind; the boys wear (presumably uniform) ties while walking on the hillsides. From the point of view of the book's construction, it's much shorter than the equivalent book would be if written nowadays, and leaves much more unsaid and unexplained.

They went down to the red fire, and sat beside it, saying nothing to each other. David was thinking of other things, but Keith did not know what. At last he let himself out, thought David came to the door with him and watched him go. Keith went home, still oppressed by the thought of the candle, up there in David's room like a creature from another place and time.

Tuesday 1st January 2002