THE STOLEN PLANET by Pearl Denham
Matador Children’s Fiction p/b £7.99
Reviewed by Nigel Robert Wilson
To review volume two of a trilogy without having read the first volume is always a small trial. The reviewer feels like an interloper until the meaning of volume two is finally grasped. This wasn’t too difficult an exercise in this instance as Pearl Denham has a very fluid writing style which contains inner goodness, quite appropriate for children’s fantasy. She is out to challenge the imagination, stir the excitement but not create nightmares.
Eirwen is a young nymph from the planet Nereid who has grown up on Earth for reasons she does not know nor understand. She has been nurtured beside the lake by two sisters, Gwyn and Tomos, who have had the misfortune to have been turned into two male geese. Tragically these two are reaching the end of their goose lives. The monstrous agency responsible for this travesty is also from another planet with an unknown agenda. This entity lurks in the background throughout the volume because it will no doubt be explained in the third. Such is the joy of trilogies!
As a nymph, Eirwen can live in the water, fly through the air and walk on land. As she enjoys the nature of the lake, she is challenged by Galene, the goddess of calm waters who wonders why a nymph from Nereid is living on Earth. Galene is the first in a sequence of guides who either deliberately or inadvertently successfully directs Eirwen on her necessary journey to find Neptune, who is both god of the seas, horses and the planet Nereid.
This journey is described in delightful detail through the better part of the book. It is a rite of passage with the usual setbacks, some perils and confrontations with other creatures who can be both capricious and surprisingly helpful. During this experience, Eirwen meets the Decapods whose love of information verges on the anal, the brutish Arkels and the frightening and combative Adaros who both hindered and helped. Throughout this progress, she is aided by the stallions of the ocean, horses of the sea; a beautiful conception as who has not seen horses in the waves of the sea?
When Eirwen finally reaches Neptune, she is courteously received and eventually presented with the means to change her geese brothers back into their natural forms as nymphs. Once this is done, the pilgrimage is over, and the tempo of the story changes. Towards the end of this volume, we are building up to volume three with the question as to what was has happened to the planet Nereid?
As mentioned above, this is a gentle introduction to fantasy very suitable for children. It is milder than the Narnia novels by C S Lewis but with challenges based more in the natural environment than in human wickedness. The description of life under the seas and the currents of the oceans are well articulated.