At the end of the Second World War, four children were sent from their home in London because their home had been damaged by bombs. Arriving at Barfield Hall, the children find a mysterious door which leads them into the magical world of Folio. Here a war is raging between the Reads and Unreads and each child, distressed by their experiences during the Blitz, reacts differently to this new world. Their only hope is to find the Librarian- a magician who has been lost for years.
This book is Piers Torday’s tribute to ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ , his favourite book when he was young. First published on October 16th 1950, this magical story has captured the imagination of many over the last 68 years and Piers has used the familiar story line to create a fabulous quest of his own.
Just as Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are sent to an English country house so in Torday’s story are Simon, Patricia, Evelyn and Larry. Both groups of children make their way to a magical land, populated by figures from story, through a doorway. The youngest is the first through and meets a partially human creature who is not all they seem. This child returns and is not believed by their siblings, later returning with the second youngest who meets an ‘evil’ figure and denies the presence of the other land. The truth is only uncovered when the children find their way through when escaping from pursuers.
There are many other parallels and yet the story also stands in its own right. The war between harsh, uncompromising fact which tries to reduce everything to data and the imagination of story and creativity with the threat of utter ignorance lurking in the background speaks volumes. The effects of war - particularly on children - are examined and each character is well rounded; the ‘motivations’ of each are considered and the inner struggles and doubts which they have are explored. There is also the dark suggestion that the government is using the children to experiment with magic.
Piers Torday is a master story teller and there are so many details worthy of notice and admiration throughout this story. I loved noticing the parallels with ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’, but also thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Lost Magician’ in its own right. A compelling, thought-provoking read, ‘The Lost Magician’ is sure to become a classic, like the story that inspired it.
The Lost Magician Piers Torday
Quercus Children’s ISBN: 978-1786540515