“Charley’s final year at Fernleigh Manor is complicated by a runaway pegasus, unwanted Games Captainship, a dangerous new rival and, most of all, falling head over heels in love with another girl. What is a reluctant Senior Prefect to do?”
Pegasi and Prefects is a really interesting book. It could be compared to Harry Potter, in that it is a magical school story, but it’s using different tropes and approaches magic in a very different way.
This is very much a girls’ school story in the style of Enid Blyton or Angela Brazil. The author clearly knows and loves her genre and this is a lovely return to girls’ own writing as it was done in the mid 20th century, but this isn’t dated. It’s fresh and thoughtful, has a first person point of view, and Eleanor has produced a story more welcoming and diverse than was ever produced by Blyton.
This is the school story I wanted when I was 11. It has the honour, adventure and accepted rules of school stories, with a sweet portrayal of Charley’s sense of her sexuality, and her love for and attraction to Rosalind. Unlike in the works of Angela Brazil (or even, controversially, Enid Blyton) the love between the girls is acknowledged between themselves, even though it’s not acceptable in the society Eleanor Beresford describes.
The magic in this world is present because of Elves, shown to have arrived from another dimension or world, a long time ago. The class structure is based on families’ elf heritage with pointed ears, and magical power a sign of prestige.
Most girls have one or two magical powers of varying strengths and families with a lot of elven blood sometimes have more. There’s an indication that the gifts are tied to each girl’s personality, with Gladys fiery in both temper and magical gift, for example.
It’s a world with a variety of magical beasts, also a legacy of the Elves’ visits. The world building is woven into the narrative in an unobtrusive way that gave me enough information to move the plot along and bring me into the world, without leaving me feeling that Charley’s first person narrative has been hijacked.
I love this. It is a school story of the best sort, with prefects and excitement and adventure and the added loveliness of a lesbian romance at its heart.