One of These Siblings Is Not Like the Others

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

When I read Sören’s review of The Grey Mane of Morning, the name “Joy Chant” seemed oddly familiar. I checked my pile of unread books and realised that some time back I bought her 1970 debut novel, Red Moon and Black Mountain, and shifted it to the front of my reading queue.

Red Moon is set in the same world as Grey Mane, though with a great span of time between them. Whereas Grey Mane tells a story earlier in the timeline, a tale in which it sounds like from Sören’s description very little which is overtly supernatural happens, Red Moon presents us with the epochal, era-closing battle of the world’s history, with magic and divine intervention far more overtly presented.

For instance, the main viewpoint characters all come from Earth. Young Oliver and his somewhat younger siblings Nicholas and Penelope are on a countryside bike ride when a miraculous intervention sees them transported to the world of Vandarei. Whilst Nicholas and Penelope find themselves on the slopes of the titular Black Mountain, crux of a battle between good and evil magic, and fall in with the benign Princess In’serinna, Oliver ends up miles away on the Northern Plains and is adopted by a tribe of Khentorei. As the story progresses, it seems that either time passes slower on the Plains or Oliver was inserted into Vandarei at an earlier time than Nicholas and Penelope, because whilst a matter of mere weeks pass for the latter two before they are reunited with Oliver months pass for him – in which time he grows and changes to such an extent that they nearly don’t recognise him.

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