Book Three of the Magician’s House Quartet was worth sticking with the series. Corlett’s characters are still stiff at times and seem more like a medium for a message than fully developed personalities, but they receive more dimension in this story and the overarching narrative of the Magician, Stephen Tyler, and his interaction with the Constant children is further fleshed out.
What seems in volume one like an atheist’s answer to Narnia is further complicated with mentions of God and the contemplative notions of emptying the self. There are some irritating negatives in this volume. The oldest sibling, William, embodies the stereotype of men as overly rational and his sisters of women as emotional. Alice, the youngest, has been the most consistent in seeing the Magician, but Mary, who previously was scorned for falling in love as her major hobby, becomes the biggest convert.
In this volume of the series, the children are on summer holiday and are faced with the threat of the land around the Golden Estate being sold and developed into a vacationing funfair and hotel complex. Together with their uncle and Meg Lewis, with whom they saved the badgers in volume two, the children work to save the sacred place that surrounds Golden House and deepen their understanding of magic. In a long speech, the Magician tells them magic should only be used for good, for un-selfish reasons. He then berates a variety of selfish actions in the modern world that have caused famine, global warming, species extinction, etc. The Tennessee legislature has most likely banned this book in light of their recent decision about global warming in the curriculum.
The connection to Tudor England grows stronger as we learn that the antagonist, Morden, was executed as a wizard in his own time. And, as Miss Prewett, the local historian, says, “Never trust a person who doesn’t like history!” (112).