Ruth M(abel) Arthur Gabrielle Maunder - Essay

Gabrielle Maunder

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[After Candlemas is a] book whose style and language entirely diminish the basic intent of the plot which concerns the black arts, an essence of re-incarnation and a flavour of the Old Religion in bleakest Dorset. Such ominous themes should command a style which reinforces the atmospheric tension so the chatty, negative approach of the girl narrator seems quite inadequate. There is a distinct flavour of the schoolgirl's annual and one constantly finds the characters not saying things but 'laughing' or 'grumbling' them, a common characteristic of thirdformers in the dorm. The book is a suitable soporific for the undemanding. (p. 61)

Gabrielle Maunder, in Children's Book Review (© 1974 Five Owls Press Ltd.; all rights reserved), Summer, 1974.

Betony tells her story [in On the Wasteland] with a languid sophistication that seems inappropriate to a thirteen-year-old nicknamed "Gipsy" by her more conformist fellow orphans. And the lassitude carries over into the plot which alternates between Betony's first tenuous friendships … and her wanderings out on the salt marsh where she sights a Viking ship and, now and then, finds herself transformed into Estrith, sister of Thorkell and betrothed to a Saxon prince. The mixture seems half-hearted rather than dreamlike, and considering the number of heroines who have similar experiences nowadays there isn't much reason for anyone to get overexcited…. [This] is pleasantly literate. Still, the props—a moor, a handful of picturesque types, a soupcon of time travel—have never been more gratuitous. (p. 710)

Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1975 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), July 1, 1975.