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Thursday, 23 December 2021

Strange things in old speech

The Dark is Rising is one (well, five) of those kids' fantasy classics that I haven't read. In my defence, the books came out when I was already in my teens, but they have been recommended by younger friends whose judgement I trust, so if you have children you might want to get hold of them.

The general tone of dark rural British folk fantasies with a psychogeographic tinge includes much of Alan Garner, John Masefield, and others. They tend to be set in the depths of winter, steeped in tales of the landscape, with lengthening shadows of mythic figures like Herne or Merlin bringing a chill of delicious danger to the sometimes stiflingly cosy world of childhood.

You feel as if all of these books should exist in 1970s BBC television adaptations, even if most of them don't. Which is why Handspan has produced this album of tracks from the non-existent adaptation of The Dark is Rising and this theme from "In From The Fields", an imaginary kids' series in the manner of Garner or Masefield.

And for grown-ups who want to revisit the comforting nightmares of younger days, there's always Becky Annison's powerful one-shot game When the Dark is Gone.

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