In many ways, the novel is a reading list of SF and Fantasy titles from the 1970's and earlier. Mor's discovery of a reading group becomes a sort of lifeline for this teen who must endure life in an unpleasant boarding school after losing her twin sister.
Not limited to a fondness for SF and Fantasy, Mor also loves T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets and is thrilled when she is able to buy her own copy which she reads on the train as she returns from Cardiff.. She says that she "got drunk on the words." (Eliot can do that--make you drunk on words.) She goes on to say:
"I'm so glad I have my own copy. I can read them again and again. I can read them again and again on trains, all my life, and every time I do I'll remember today and it will connect up. (Is that magic? Yes, it is a sort of magic, but it is more just reading my book.)"
Damn, I love that quote! And I love T.S. Eliot!
The novel contains magic, but a strange kind of magic that Mor explains as being very different from that in her favorite books. More primitive, more elemental; less understandable. And is the magic that of fairies or witches, or is the magic in this novel more symbolic of growing independence?
The book is a bit slow and digressive. It is a coming of age story with an emphasis on the importance of books (and of sharing beloved books with other sympathetic readers). The novel can't be taken literally, and yet, many of us will recognize the truth it contains with a powerful resonance.
I don't think I liked it as much as some have; at least, not in relation to the plot. What I did love was the recognition of loving the same books and acknowledging the crucial role these books have played in enduring and rising above the difficulties in life. Books are a haven for many of us just as they are for Morwenna.
There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.