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The Box of Delights (1935)

by John Masefield

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Kay Harker (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8271626,643 (4)1 / 74
Kay finds himself involved in a fantastic adventure when he becomes guardian of the mysterious Box of Delights.
  1. 60
    The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Although The Box of Delights was written in 1935 and The Dark is Rising was written in the 1970s, both books have a similar sense of magic, mystery and menace running through them. Both are part of series but can be read without having read the earlier books in the series.… (more)
  2. 50
    The Children of Green Knowe by L. M. Boston (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Both are charming old-fashioned children's stories with elements of magical realism
  3. 40
    The Midnight Folk by John Masefield (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Kay Harker appears in both titles
  4. 20
    Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton (infiniteletters)
  5. 10
    The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (casvelyn)

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» See also 74 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I'll admit I gave up, but it was on page 261. This just made no sense to me. Reading the last paragraph explained a lot. My Vintage Book Circle group read it and mostly had the same response. I like my fantasy to be a little more grounded. I like to think there is some possibility that the story is real. This had no internal logic for me to grab on to. We found some things really shocking, like Little Maria habitually carrying a pistol!?!? Other times when Kay was worried about all the kidnappings and when asked what he would like to see choosing to see a tournament versus trying to find his friends or learning more about the bad guys plans. I was startled by Rat, not knowing if it was a nickname for a person or an actual rat. I did figure that out, but it just confused me more. I find it curious that this is the Christmas story that every one in Great Britain remembers. Here in the US we love Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer which originated as department store advertising. (how very American!) It might be interesting to see how this was adapted for movies and television. ( )
  njcur | Feb 28, 2023 |
Couldn’t be bothered with this one either. Bit too dated and conservative for me. ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
Now I have both the Quentin Blake covers! This edition is also newly corrected from the original MS. ( )
  PollyMoore3 | Jan 15, 2019 |
Kay Harker is coming home to the family estate, Seekings, in the country for the Christmas holidays. The weather is harsh with heavy snow and he is told to be careful as the Wolves are Running.

There is to be a big celebration at the church, come Christmas Eve, but a few days before the children want to put on a little celebration at Seekings and invite the Punch and Judy man to perform. They had seen his act in the town nearby.

The Punch and Judy man (also known as Cole Hollings) comes and performs and also brings 'some other delights.' Some of the delights are gifts and some are magic, as he seems to be a bit of a wizard. Just before he leaves, he gives Kay a small box with a knob on it. The box has magical abilities to transport a person to other locations, past and present and also change the person's size. Kay is told to protect the box and not let it fall into the hands of a particular person who is chasing Cole Hawlings.

The adults all seem to be called away and the children are left on their own to enjoy this action-adventure. There is magic, talking animals, scary below ground scenes and chases. Various clergy are captured in an effort to halt the Christmas Eve celebrations and it seems that it is up to the children to solve who is doing the scrobbling (kidnapping) and rescue the scrobbled from the ones who have them.

The description on the back sounded intriguing, so I bought it. Once I started reading it took some getting used to. I knew it was from England, but some of the words were strange. I finally looked at the copyright and saw it was 1935. That helped explain why the style was so different. Different era, different style. At that point I started to enjoy the book. ( )
  ChazziFrazz | Feb 24, 2018 |
Exactly what it says on the cover - a box of delights. The lines between reality and magic are blurred throughout the story, and that's the way John Masefield likes it - he was Poet Laureate, after all, so you expect to be dazzled. It's most definitely a story to be read at Christmas, as the plot takes place the week before the big day.
In places the book shows its age - it was written in the 1920s - and isn't politically correct by today's standards. However, it's very funny, especially Abner Brown's evil monologues, the completely loopy Arnold of Todi and little Maria's constant attempts to shock people. The ending has been described as cliched, but may have been less so at the time it was written.
It's certainly worth reading "The Midnight Folk" (the Box of Delights is actually a sequel) as this helps to explain the origin of the characters such as Abner, the Rat and Caroline Louisa. The books complement each other very well, with one set in summer and the other at Christmas, but with largely the same characters and setting. ( )
  Jawin | Dec 30, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Masefieldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Blake, QuentinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Masefield, JudithIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my wife
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As Kay was coming home for the Christmas holidays, after his first term at school, the train stopped at Musborough Station.
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Kay finds himself involved in a fantastic adventure when he becomes guardian of the mysterious Box of Delights.

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