Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Magician's House: The Door in the Tree

The Magician's House: The Door in the Tree

William Corlett
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Random House UK, 2012   ISBN: 978-1849417952

William, Mary and Alice Constant are back at Golden House, once again spending their holidays with their Aunt and Uncle. Having been away from Golden House for some months they are all unsure about what exactly had happened to them when they were at the house over their Christmas holidays. Had they really met a magician and seen magic at work? Had they really been transported into the bodies of animals? Alice is quite convinced that it did all happen just as they remember it but Mary and William are not sure what to think. After all magic cannot be explained and it’s not logical. How can a Magician travel through time and what does he want with them anyway.

Early on in their visit the children go for a walk with the family dog and they end up in a place which is frightening, a place which Spot the Dog tells them is called the Dark and Dreadful Path. In this place, an area of woods which is dark and seemingly lifeless except for the trees themselves, they find the body of a badger. It is a very disturbing sight. The children go for another walk soon afterwards and during this walk they find a tree with a door in it. As they explore the little room behind the door they are joined first by the Magician and then by an odd old lady called Meg Lewis. Meg is a true animal lover and she is very distressed to learn about the death of the badger. She goes on to explain to the children that there are people about who capture badgers and who use the captured animals in horrible fights with dogs. It is had to believe that such a medieval practice still goes on, but, though it is illegal, badger baiting still happens.

Somehow the three children find themselves swept up in a sometimes frightening and definitely peculiar search for the badger baiters and the badgers that they have captured. Meg, the children, the police, Uncle Jack and Aunt Phoebe all contribute something to the search. In the end it is none other than their bizarre magician friend who helps the children to save the day.

This special adventure not only takes the three Constant children into new worlds but it also helps them grow and understand what the magician wants from them. Bit by bit, slowly but surely the author gives his readers clues, pulling together threads of old stories to create a mystery which reaches across the years from the magician’s time to the present day.