THE NARGUN AND THE STARS by Patricia Wrightson


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The Potkoorok, Turongs and Nyols -- those trick-playing spirits from aboriginal lore who helped save Sydney's Botanical Gardens from a parking lot developer in An Older Kind of Magic (KR, 1972), are less cooperative when the human hero's enemy is an ancient rocklike monster who shares the mythological creatures' displeasure with the crew from town that has begun to clear the ridge at Wongadilla. Simon Brent, newly orphaned and come to live on the remote sheep run with old Charlie Waters and his sister Edie, is amused when the mischievous spirits dump the grader into the pond one night and hide the bulldozer inside the mountain the next, but he is terrified by the angry howl of the primordial Norgun, recently arrived at the spot after a slow 80-year journey from his long-time home to the south. Unlike most grownups in juvenile fantasy, Charlie and Edie remember the "old Pot-K" and the Turongs from their childhood and totally accept Simon's assertion that that large mossy rock on the mountain is really a deeply menacing monster. The various elf-creatures, though agreeing that the Nargun does not belong there, are loth to cross him, but Charlie in an effort to drive the monster away manages to start up the muffler-less dozer inside the mountain -- inducing instead a confrontation between rock and metal as the machine is wrecked and the Nargun trapped inside by an avalanche that seals up the cave's opening. Wrightson's considerable skill in managing texture and tension ensures that admirers of serious fantasy will breathe the air of Wongadill along with Simon, and to her credit the symbols and issues here represent a perspective more complex than is usual in fictional conflicts between technology and nature. But Simon's dreaded earth monster hardly justifies the author's overreaching attempt to make of him a timeless, literally star-shaking occasion for "naked pity" and "naked fear."
Pub Date: March 20th, 1974
ISBN: 1846470765
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1974


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