The Box of Delights
The Box of Delights, by John MasefieldThis 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!