Man, I’ve had this review sitting on the shelf for a while! I started writing this way back in July!
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is one of the most beloved children stories of all time. It’s a true fantasy classic that’s stood the test of time for… Jesus, seventy years! It’s one of those books that everyone knows about, even if they haven’t read it.
Question is: does it live up to the legend? Or is it just another piece of fantasy history?
Nah, it’s pretty good.
This story stars the four siblings of the Pevensie family, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. After evacuating London to escape the blitz in the heat of WW2, they head to a large house in the countryside owned by Professor Digory Kirk (remember him from The Magician’s Nephew?). Eventually, the four find their way through a magic wardrobe that leads them to the land of Narnia, a fantasy kingdom currently under the tyrannical rule of the White Witch. Turns out, these four are integral to an ancient Narnian prophecy. Now, the four, with the help of Aslan the lion, must save the land from the grasp of the evil witch.
And by ‘with the help of’, I mean ‘Aslan does most of the work and gives the kids the credit’.
Granted: it isn’t as bad as it is in the later books in this series. The four kids at least have some agency in the story. Not much, granted. Most of the substantial stuff, like Peter and Edmund leading the army to victory, happens off-screen.
Well, it was 1950. Guess they didn’t want to think about that stuff.
The White Witch isn’t an especially intimidating villain, not like in The Magician’s Nephew. All she really does is give Edmund some food, ride around in a sleigh, and fail to kill a lion. She doesn’t have that presence or charisma that made her such a memorable villain in the prequel.
Thankfully, the whole thing is lifted up by how its written. The whole thing feels like a story being read to you by a jolly old grandparent. It has so much charm to it that you can’t help but enjoy the whole experience, despite its flaws.
It also helps that this isn’t a very long book. You can burn through the whole thing in a few hours. Perfect for a quick read, even better for a bed time story! So, if you need something quick and fun to read, I’d highly recommend it!
Y’know what I just remembered, sitting here looking for the right way to wrap this up? I remembered that there’s a movie version! Which I haven’t seen since it came out in theaters, when I was, like… five? I’m gonna have to check in on that sooner or later. See if that holds up.