A Handful of Magic
In Brief: Imaginative and engaging children's adventure set in an alternative Victorian London. Mild magical aspects.
Published in: 2000
Age Range: Pre Teens
Period: Late 19th C
In a parallel Victorian London, Kit Stixby is the magic-wielding son of the official Witch Doctor to Queen Victoria, while Kit is the best friend of the Queen's son Henry. Their enemy is Sir Stafford Sparks, the court Scientist. Henry is captured and Kit and his gang of wizard children go to rescue him and to stop Sparks from robbing the Bank of England.
Victorian London is always a prime target for parallel worlds; it combines a rich variety of characters with a bustling enterprise. In this case, we have a land where magic and magical creatures are commonplace, but where technology, while still recognisably Victorian, is more widespread: steam-driven perambulators; air-borne hansom cabs; public transport dirigibles. And then the wizards and witches on brooms and carpets. Of course, the baddies of the piece are the electricity-loving scientists, while the goodies are the craft-minded magic users who are starting to seem old-fashioned.As usual with such books, the magical aspects are not terribly serious, mostly consisting of brief utility spells, occasionally concocted from the traditional ingredients. One of the major characters, Kit's Aunt Pearl, lives on the roof of St Paul's with the gargoyles of which she is the warden. As usual the religious aspect of St Paul's comes second to its role as a potent symbol of London.
By this time Carpet had reached Kensington Gardens. It flew over Round Pond to South Carriage Drive; below, Kit could make out a line of hansom aircabs waiting for business, one just beginning to climb with its 'hired' lamp shining, two slowly descending with their 'hired' lamps dark; and in the distance right to the hazy edge of the city, steeples, smog lighthouses and other familiar landmarks rose from the smoke of the busy streets, the taller buildings speckled with red warning lanterns.
Tuesday 1st January 2002