For Alan Garner, the power of Celtic myth is inseparable from the power of magic; as he renews the one he frees the other in a remarkable interpretation that leaves the reader wondering. Colin and Susan are already living in two worlds (introduced in The Weirdstone, established concisely here) when the enterprises of men unlooses the formless, speechless Brolligan, blacker than the blackest night, to join the Morrigan or witch-queen, and when the children's own carelessness releases the Einhariar, the Wild Hunters and their antlered leader Garanhir. Ranged against them are the spirits withdrawn from mankind since the Age of Reason: Cadellin the wizard, Uthecar the dwarf, and Atlendor the elf-lord (whose lios-alfar are retreating from the dirt and foul air of men). To wizards and their High Magic of thoughts and spells, the Old Magic is a hindrance, a power without shape or order; they have tried to destroy it before but it would only sleep. Now it threatens the children, especially Susan because she wears the bracelet of ancient silver, the Mark of Fohla. Susan is almost lost, and Colin is captured, before the Old Magic is dispersed but not destroyed in a harrowing confrontation. The words of the hunters trail behind: "Leave her....It will be. But not yet." This exists on a more mythic plane than William Mayne's Earthfasts; both take simultaneity for granted, but here the interest is primarily in the inhabitants of "the world of magic that lies near and unknown to us as the back of a shadow." In a reluctant afterward, Mr. Garner identifies his sources; he has already transcended them in a story that requires but repays close attention.