The Enchanted Castle: Magic Turns Into Reality

A delightful story about magic, explorations and secret passages, The Enchanted Castle by Edith Nesbit made me feel like a child again.

Siblings Gerald, Jimmy and Kathleen, while exploring outdoors on a school holiday, find a hidden cave leading to a maze at the other end. In the garden, in the middle of the maze, they wake a sleeping princess, whom they soon befriend and who invites them inside her enchanted castle. She shows them her jewels and a ring that makes the wearer invisible. She wears it only to be horrified that she has indeed turned invisible. She then explains that she isn’t a princess but Mabel, the housekeeper’s niece, and was only playing pretend.

While there is plenty of magic in the book, such as stone statues coming to life, The Enchanted Castle teaches us about wishes—specifically how not every wish is good for us. Eventually, the four children figure out that the ring is not an invisibility ring but whatever you say it is. If you say it’s a ring that makes the wearer four yards high, it will be so. The most dreadful part for me was Jimmy wishing he were rich with the ring on his finger. Before Gerald’s, Kathleen’s and Mabel’s eyes, Jimmy grows and turns into an old man—a prosperous old man who owns a business. The worst part is the now-old Jimmy (or “That-Which-Had-Been-Jimmy,” later on shortened to “That”) couldn’t remember any of his siblings. To him, they are just children playing around. I felt bad for the three frightened children, who tried everything they could for Jimmy to remember them and to get the ring back. The scene was a nightmare!

This important lesson reminds me of the many things that I wish were given to me, things that I feel I need to be happy or successful, such as talents, physical attributes or my desired career. I keep forgetting that not every wish is good for us and that it’s not very wise to be resentful for what you lack. Sometimes I’d try to visualize one of my wishes coming true and its possible outcomes and recognize that it won’t truly make me happy or successful. Sometimes I’d reflect on an old wish that has come true and suddenly recall its consequences, such as having less time to spend with family or being more stressed. This book is a reminder to be content with what you have and accept life as it is.

“How often each one of them had dreamed of islands, how often wished to be stranded on one! Well, now they were. Reality is sometimes quite different from dreams, and not half so nice.”

The Enchanted Castle was published in 1907. Recently, I’ve learned about two subgenres of fantasy: “high fantasy,” which is set in a magical fictional world, and “low fantasy,” which is set in our world, with the intrusion of magical elements. The Enchanted Castle, being set in England, is a low fantasy novel. Book genres interest me, and I’m glad there are so many more subgenres to explore!

If you’d like to revisit childhood and read about magical adventures, outdoor play, imagination, truthfulness and friendships (with a little bit of romance!), look no further than the charming children’s novel The Enchanted Castle by Edith Nesbit.

Published by Sunny Day Reads

I’m Macy. This space is for my love of books and sharing what I learn with you!

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