The Box of Delights

 The Box of Delights, by John Masefield

This story has been ridiculously difficult for me to find.  I've wanted to read it for years, as it's always being mentioned as a classic, beloved by generations of British children.  I read The Midnight Folk last year, and that turned out to be the first book, so I already knew Kay Harker when I started this one.  It was kind of a goofy thing to do to read a Christmas story in the September heat, but who cares?

Kay is now about 14, I would guess, and he's home from school for Christmas.  Some friends are staying with him, so there will be plenty to do.  On the way from the station, Kay meets a little old Punch and Judy man, and invites him to come and perform at his house...and this plunges him into another adventure.  The wolves are running, and they're after the little magic box that the old man entrusts to Kay.  With it, Kay can shrink or be whisked to another place, or he can see into history.  Kay's old nemesis, the rotten magician Abner Brown, heads up the wolves and he scrobbles the old man -- and then two of Kay's friends -- and then the entire clergy and choir of the church, just as they're about to have a special event!  It's up to Kay and whoever he can convince to come with him to rescue all those people and keep the Box our of Abner Brown's hands.

This story is absorbing and enchanting, and also really strange. and I could have skipped the last page and been happier.  Definitely one to put on your list if you're interested in British children's fantasy, as I am.  It's really all over the place, but a great adventure.  And a good RIP read, too!


  1. It really is an odd novel, and of its time, but definitely burrows into one's subconscious. The ending is a disappointing aberration but weirdly that didn't really bother me too much.

    1. I think because it was so quick, it wasn't as obtrusive as it could have been. Could easily have done without it completely though!

  2. I too have been trying to find this for ages and ages! It's one of the books Tom gives to Polly in Fire and Hemlock, and it's one of only a very few books mentioned in Fire and Hemlock that I really wasn't familiar with even in passing. I still haven't gotten my hands on a copy, but I am sure it will someday get to me. I got The Midnight Folk at a recent book sale, so I have that to look forward to.

    1. YES, that is almost certainly why I was so determined to get it someday! I finally got a copy of the Oxford book of ballads (instead of Child's, which was the one I had) and realized that Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer are on like the second page.


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