17

I am looking for the title or author of a book I remember reading as a child in '70s or '80s.

I don't remember much about the plot. Most of the book played in our world, but there was a door or portal where something or someone from another world came through, resulting in danger to the protagonists or their families.

The protagonists were children, as is the case in many children books. However, I remember the book having a rather dark and somber mood, unusual for a children's book.

One distinct event in this book I remember: someone went missing, and all they found was their glove, which was embedded in a rock (or in the ground), with part of it sticking out.

I think there also was a unicorn, no the tame, fluffy rainbow-creature currently so popular, but a wild and dangerous beast.

I read the book in german, but I don't know whether if was originally written in german, or was translated from another language.

The book was a hardcover, and while I can't remember the design of the sleeve, I remember it being mostly orange or red in color.

  • I don't remember a Unicorn (it's been 30 years or more) but the tone of the story make me think of Faerie Tale by Raymond E Fiest, just mentioning it here in case – Binary Worrier Nov 13 '17 at 14:53
  • @BinaryWorrier - Tone is possibly the same, but none of the other elements match up. No missing kids (Changeling but not missing), no glove in ground, no unicorn. – JohnP Nov 13 '17 at 15:08
  • @JohnP Thanks, it has been a long time, I wasn't sure if the other bits were in there or if I've also read, and mostly forgotten, the book the Op is thinking of too. – Binary Worrier Nov 13 '17 at 15:11
  • @BinaryWorrier - I reread Faerie Tale every few years, it's a good book. Last time was probably less than a year ago. :) – JohnP Nov 13 '17 at 15:16
  • 1
    @ChrisH thanks for the hint. I love the books by Stross, but it seems I have missed this one. – Thomas Stets Nov 14 '17 at 7:08
22

Pretty sure the book you're thinking of is Elidor by Alan Garner (1965). This is the mostly orange and red cover of the hardback edition:

Elidor hardback from 1965

Four children find a portal to another world, on a bombed-out site in Manchester. In the other world, they are given four sacred objects they must protect (based loosely on objects from Irish myth). They bring them back to our world (where they turn into mundane objects), but the evil power they are protecting them from also comes through to our world in the form of a unicorn, and the children are besieged in their home.

I distinctly remember the detail about the glove partly embedded in rock, which is in chapter 3:

The fingers and the cuff were free, but the thumb went straight into the quartz.

Roland looked for the name tape inside the cuff. He found it: Helen R. Watson.

He stabbed the turf, but he could find no break in the quartz, nothing that he could lift. The glove was fused into the rock. There were no cracks, no lesions. The thumb went into unflawed rock, and turf had covered it.

The unicorn's name is Findhorn. The book was adapted for television by the BBC twice, once for Jackanory in 1968, and later as a miniseries in 1995 on Children's BBC.

  • Glove in the rock – GentlePurpleRain Nov 13 '17 at 20:21
  • @RossSmith Thank you, this is it! Now I just have to find a copy to read it again, and then give it to my granddaughter. :-) – Thomas Stets Nov 14 '17 at 6:54
  • You have your choice of cover artwork; there are almost a dozen different covers nowadays. There's a 2008 edition with an added preface by Jonathan Stroud and an afterword by the author. – JdeBP Nov 14 '17 at 7:14
  • Holy crap, I loved this but had forgotten all about it (even after reading the question). +1! – tardigrade Nov 14 '17 at 8:04
8

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett , which came out in 1992 fits the bill.

Portal to Faerie world? Check. Something coming through portal? Check. Wild unicorn that kills a man? Check. Somewhat somber mood? Check.

Magrat is stunned when King Verence proclaims their imminent marriage, having already made all the arrangements in her absence. The sudden appearance of crop circles reveals to Nanny and Granny that it is now "circle time", a convergence of parallel universes when the Discworld is susceptible to incursions from the "parasite universe" of the Elves. Elves are capricious and amoral creatures that enter the minds of animals and sentient beings in a more destructive way than witches do, using "glamour" to alter human's perceptions of them. They are normally kept away by a circle of magnetized iron standing stones known as the Dancers. When Nanny and Granny refuse to explain the situation to Magrat, she leaves the coven, disavows witchcraft, and moves into an apartment in Lancre Castle. She soon becomes bored with the courtly lifestyle and unsure of her place.

Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor of Unseen University, leads a small group of faculty to attend the wedding. Along the way, they are joined by the Dwarfish lothario Casanunda.

Granny and Nanny discover that a group of local girls, led by Diamanda Tockley and including Agnes Nitt, have formed a new coven whose activities include dancing naked at the Dancers. The two elderly witches try to convince them to stop, with Granny ultimately besting Diamanda in a public witchcraft contest and discrediting the new coven. But a defiant Diamanda later runs through the Dancers into the land of the Elves, where she is knocked unconscious by a poisoned Elven arrow before being rescued by Granny. Nanny subdues an Elf that pursues them back into Lancre, using an iron fireplace poker; Elves and their powers are severely weakened by iron. The witches bring Diamanda and the Elf to Lancre Castle, where Magrat treats Diamanda and Verence agrees to imprison the Elf (though Magrat inadvertently frees it later). Meanwhile, Granny has begun to experience memories of other paths her life has taken in parallel worlds, as well as a growing sense of her own impending death.

  • 1
    And the glove in the rock? – JdeBP Nov 13 '17 at 17:39
  • 1
    If my memory serves, at one point, the steel glove gets stuck to magnetic stones, along with some other pieces of metal. It's been three years since I last read that book, though, so take this with a grain of salt. – jo1storm Nov 13 '17 at 17:42
  • 1
    This doesn't address that the OP believes the story to have taken place on Earth. – Michael Richardson Nov 13 '17 at 20:32
  • 1
    @MichaelRichardson - Or that they read it in the 80s or 90s. – Adamant Nov 13 '17 at 21:04
2

To me, this sounds like "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe", by C. S. Lewis. It's about 4 children in WWII era London, where the youngest girl, Lucy, finds a wardrobe that has no back, but leads to a fantasy world. Her 3 siblings later end up also finding this place while looking for her, and notice a glove (IIRC) on a tree that shows she's there.

This was first published in 1950, so I'd assume it had time to find a German translation by the 70's or 80's.

I believe that through the book, the youngest meets a wild unicorn and is able to come near it because of her youth. It's been many years since I read this book, so it could have been a pegasus (winged horse instead of unicorn).

The book is rather dark, in that it vividly talks about war and killing.

  • 1
    Not a bad answer in my opinion. If you really knew the CS Lewis books like I do you would realize thats not the answer but I see no need to give you a negative downvote as someone did. I will upvote just to cancel that out. – Joe Nov 13 '17 at 20:49
  • @Joe, thanks for the consideration! – computercarguy Nov 13 '17 at 20:51
  • 1
    Yeah, no need to downvote a decent guess that is wrong. – JohnP Nov 13 '17 at 21:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.