Review: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Series: Chronicles of Narnia

I just finished reading The Boxcar Children (the first 19) to my children, so now it’s off to Narnia with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (in publication order). Oh man, we’re in for a ride.

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.

Perhaps one of the best known portal fantasies, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the story of four children sent to live in the Professor’s mysterious old house wherein they find a portal (through the aforementioned Wardrobe) into the fantastical land of Narnia, a land full of talking animals and mythological beings of all kinds, ruled by an evil White Witch.

It’s a rather straight forward good versus evil story with little in the way of surprises, but plenty of surprisingly dark scenes that I didn’t particularly remember. My oldest seems to be greatly enjoying them, and no nightmares so far, but there is certainly room for discussion after each chapter.

I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been - if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you - you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing is ever going to happen again.

It’s got an interesting style, where the author talks, from time to time, directly to the reader, which only helps the fantastic feel. And the world really does feel magical. At first, it’s a lighthearted beautiful sort of magic, but that quickly turns darker and more complicated–after all, it’s a land that’s “always winter, but never Christmas.”

The Jesus-turned-lion allegory in Aslan is a bit on the head and deus ex machina (and for such a larger than life sort of character, there’s really not much to him), but there is still room for the children to learn and grow and save the day, so as long as you know what you’re in for, it’s worth the read.