The Enchanted Castle
by E. Nesbit, first published 1907
“There is a curtain, thin as gossamer, clear as glass, strong as iron, that hangs forever between the world of magic and the world that seems to us to be real.”
The quote for this children’s book says it all. Edith Nesbit is a master of leading children from their daily world to the world of magic, and back, as if the curtain were as thin as gossamer. I don’t know if there is a proper order for reading all the books of Nesbit, but The Enchanted Castle was the first I read after I became aware of her works through references in a contemporary children’s book, Half Magic. On later investigation, I discovered that Nesbit not only wrote magical books, but influenced an entire generation of children’s book writers who in their own way wrote classics as well.
Perhaps the most surprising element of this book is the amount of surprising twists and turns. Each time it appears that one mystery is solved, another pops up. What can one expect with a magical ring leading the children on its merry chase? And yet, every adventure, seemingly insoluble, ends up leading to something very great indeed. The culmination of the book is heart-opening, and a wonderful reminder that magic is a gift we all need to cherish. Bringing this kind of magic to children is not only a gift of literature but a gift of spirit as well. Suitable for almost any age, though I would probably lean towards the older children. Because there are several children as the main protagonists, both boys and girls will easily relate to the story.
One of the challenges of reading a classic children’s book is that when they go into public domain, everyone and their uncle feels compelled to publish their own version, and most of the versions on Amazon are poorly formatted, unreadable, and just not worth a penny. The best is to get a good version from your library. However, it is worth owning, and below I highlight one of the versions that seems better than the others.
Buy this at your local independent bookstore