Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Seven-Day Magic by Edward Eager

Of all the Edward Eager books, this is probably the one I know least well, the one I don't think I first sat down and read until I was an adult - which means, unfortunately, that it missed out on that golden period where I devoured books as a child, reread them ad nauseam, and now carry them forever with me.

So it's probably not a surprise that this is by far not my favourite Eager book. That spot would have to be held for The Knight's Castle or The Time Garden. And it's not the famil(ies) that tie those books together - these are new characters entirely.

But that isn't to say that it isn't good, and wouldn't be worth a read. If this one had been available in my local library after my grandmother first bought me Half-Magic at her local library book sale, I might have just as fond memories as I do of the others.

So when I sat down to reread this one, I knew I'd read it, but didn't remember it that well. It was a quick enjoyable read, just what I needed after plowing through David Copperfield week after week.

What I do love about this one might also be its weakest point, I haven't quite decided. The magic in Seven-Day Magic is found in a book, and therefore, most of the magic is related to books, from adventures into Oz, into Half-Magic, a Little House on the Prairie-type world, and eventually into a novel one of the children has been writing. Magic in reading, that's an idea I can get behind. On the other hand, that meant they spent most of the book in other people's fictional universes, and didn't add that much to them.

The "rules" of the magic weren't as clear here as they often were in his earlier books. The children talk about having to learn the rules and messing it up - as literate little young 'uns, they know all about magic and how it could work - but it isn't a major plot point in the way it is in the other books. This magic seems much more loose.

The other issue is that, enjoyable as this is, some of it feels like we've seen it before. Helping someone new figure out the Half-Magic rules isn't that interesting when you already know what they are. And the trip to the city to see Barnaby, Abbie, and Fredericka's father sing on a national TV show, and magically helping him succeed is far too much like the children in The Time Garden going invisibly to see their father's play opening, and magically help him to succeed.

There's a little too much recycled here, but I would still recommend it to people who have already exhausted the rest of his catalogue. But if you haven't, check out the other books first.

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