Review: “Half Magic” by Edward Eager

Half Magic has to be one of the most enchanting novels ever written in mind for children and adults.  Edward Eager always gives due credit to his idol, Edith Nesbit, whose talent as a writer inspired him and whose works he mentions affectionately within all volumes of his Tales of Magic series.  However, the world Eager creates in his “storybooks” is not some typical fantasy world; he takes into account the status quo of modern times while keeping the tone of his books simultaneously fanciful and realistic.

Turning frequently back to the primordial forces that hold all of existence together, Half Magic is a story about four exceptional, widely read siblings.  Call it luck or mere creative license, but Mark, Katherine, Jane, and Martha find a magical talisman on the street one hot summer day.  A coin that grants wishes by halves, the children learn from experience that magic may be unpredictable but it certainly does have a very practical side.  Suddenly, their boring summer transforms into a joint effort to save Camelot with a reluctant (and conceited) Sir Lancelot, escape a kidnapper in a caravan in the middle of an Arabian desert, and discover the North Pole (for real).

Half Magic is simply a fun tale that requires only a little belief in the impossible to make all the children’s adventures seem not only credible but also incredibly vicarious.  Exciting, entertaining, and vivacious, there is naturally a moral around every corner as the main characters endure their own mistakes and learn to abide by the rubrics of magic, also realizing the key to true happiness and the reward of a content family environment.  Half Magic is humorous and imaginative; Eager’s debut in children’s literature, here he reveals the origins of one ordinary family destined to have many amazing, albeit troublesome, dealings with magic and magical beings.

It is no coincidence that all four characters love E. Nesbit’s writing and that their amusing reactions to all magical occurrences are the strong center of the book’s charm.  First in the line of four interrelated novels, the narrative is straightforward and nostalgic.  It has warmth as a moral guide for children and provides a child’s honest perspective on life for stiff adults who think they’re too old for “kid books.”  Time travel, the magnetism of possibilities, and the appeal of the impossibility of fantasy all make Half Magic endearing and fantastic.

Original review: Part 1: Selections from Edward Eager’s ‘Tales of Magic’ seriesPart 2: Selections from Edward Eager’s ‘Tales of Magic’ series,


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