Review: The Time Of Green Magic by Hilary McKay
The cat thing sunk down, deep and heavy on the bed. The night air from the window was cold, but the cat-thing was warm, and Louis found himself wishing it would purr.
‘Iffen …’ he murmured, and found the cat-thing’s eyes on his, a direct golden gaze that went straight to his astonished, worshipping soul.
(The Time Of Green Magic by Hilary McKay. P51.)
Abi is happily growing up with Dad and Granny Grace. Then a chance accident brings Dad together with Polly. Granny Grace moves away, Dad and Polly marry and Abi is forced to share her life with stepbrothers.
Then the family moves to the ivy-covered house, and strange things start to happen.
Abi tumbles into books, Max notices strange things lurking in dark corners, and Louis summons a wild animal into his bedroom. Unless the children come together, they will be unable to change things. Can they figure out where the strange creature came from and send it back?
Abi prefers life when it is quiet. She likes to hide away and read, which is pretty difficult with a small step-brother she never asked for grabbing at her stuff. But, over time, an understanding emerges between Abi and Louis. They’ve seen things in the strange new house. Things which should be impossible.
The ivy-covered house is up there among the most memorable of magical houses in children’s literature. It is subtle magic, yet it is one which reflects the children’s’ internal struggles and eventually brings them together. I was especially touched by Louis’s longing for a granny just like Granny Grace, and Abi’s difficulties in sharing the people in her life. Divorce narratives once read like tales of woe. This story is more subtle. It hints at hurt and anger but also shows love and new friendships and recognition which grows over time as new connections grow between the people involved.
The other star of the story is Iffen, the wild cat Louis summons into his bedroom. Exactly what species is he? Where does he come from? Readers will enjoy posing theories as the mystery grows.
Hilary McKay’s writing is a joy. The sentences and words are crafted to perfection so that it is impossible not to whisper certain parts aloud. The experience of reading was almost like listening to a storyteller because the words were beautiful and the story kept me hanging on at every twist and turn.
A gentle and lyrical story from a master storyteller. This is a wonderful book about the bonds between families, and what it takes to shape them.
Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Books for my gifted copy of A Time Of Green Magic. Opinions my own.