The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay book cover

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have such time for what Hilary McKay does, and The Time of Green Magic is a joy. Wild, rich, fantastical, and full of intense, palpable danger, it’s a dream. McKay is good, so good, and the day she is given the freedom of British children’s literature, the better. I am not sure if one can be given the freedom of British children’s literature, but I’d like it to be a thing. There are some authors that simply deserve such a thing.

A contemporary story, set right here, right now, and yet reaching back to the dawn of the world, The Time of Green Magic is quietly immense. It tells the story of a family learning to live with each other after their parents marry; Abi gains brothers, and Max and Louis gain a sister. It is not straightforward, as such things never are, and McKay renders it with her delicious truth. Nobody, I think, does families better. The messy, rich truth of them. The love of them. (One character experiences a ‘first crush’ in this book, and my goodness, it is beautifully, brilliantly done).

But underneath all of this is danger. Darkness. Something that’s almost incomprehensible and yet real. Things have started to happen; books have become real, darkness has gained flesh, and there’s something strange and scary happening that the children are going to figure out how to stop it before it all gets very much out of hand.

I loved this, and though I know I’m a fan of what McKay does, I loved it more because she embraces threat. Darkness. And this isn’t to say that she doesn’t do it elsewhere in her work – most notably in her beautiful, brilliant The Skylarks’ War, but it’s a different kind of darkness I think. Human. Real world. The shadows of The Time Of Green Magic are something different. Incomprehensible. Wild. Dangerous. Scary. (Brilliantly, brilliantly done).

McKay is great, this book is great, and you should read everything she does because it will teach you how just how great and good children’s books can be.

My thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

View all my reviews

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