Monday, 10 January 2000

Andre Norton: Dread Companion (1970)

Edition: Gollancz, 1970
Review number: 416

In this novel, aimed at a slightly older audience than most of her writing, Norton uses several themes from folklore and child psychology to create a disturbing story. Accepting a post as governess to get away from a world which has little to offer a woman of intelligence, Kilda soon comes to realise that there is something strange about her charges. Like Miles and Flora in A Turn of the Screw, Bartare and Oomark have an invisible companion who is rather unpleasant, and they start to play mind games with Kilda under the direction of the mysterious "She".

When they arrive at their destination, the planet Dylan, things get worse; Kilda follows the children through some kind of gateway into a very different world, woven by Norton from the legends of the land of Faery. Easily one of the best writers of science fiction for teenagers, Norton has managed to find new and very effective ways to combine well worn, psychologically telling elements.

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