One That Got Away: Mandrake by Susan Cooper

2491_SUSAN_COOPER_Mandrake_1966You’ll know Susan Cooper as the author of the Dark is Rising sequence: one of the finest series of fantasy writing for you people of the last fifty years; and you may have read some of her other books, such as the wartime story Dawn of Fear or the time-travelling adventure King of Shadows. But we’ll make a modest wager that Mandrake may have passed you by. Which is a great shame. It’s a powerful and imaginative piece of writing, written in the tradition of thoughtful post-war British science fiction yet in many ways ahead of its time. One of the book’s themes is the earth resenting and at last resisting the domination of mankind: yet it predates James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory. The style is plain, but the subject-matter is at times very peculiar and always thought-provoking. It’s been out of print for years, and was one we’ve long wanted to bring to a new audience. It’s no a curiosity, though anyone familiar with Susan Cooper’s later world find it fascinating. It’s a very good book in anyone’s terms – if it had come in as a submission from an unpublished writer, we’d have snapped it up. Sadly, we have yet to find our way through the copyright maze to actually secure the rights – but for this one, we’ll keep on trying. Meanwhile, if you’re browsing a second-hand bookshop and see this jammed in alongside the usual mounds of Georgette Hayer and copies of Richard Adams’ Shardik, grab it!

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