The Lost Magician


Larry and Grey Bear are the first to trespass onto the top floor. Opening a small door leads them to Folio, the library of every book every written, collected by Nicholas Crowne before he disappeared. He is ‘The Lost Magician.’

The library is divided into sections entitled ‘Reads’, ‘Unreads’ and ‘Never Reads’. Why the separation? Why the fear, and threat of imminent war? Larry, full of imagination and possibilities, aligns himself with the wonder of  ‘Reads’, with fairytales and dreams. This the stuff that has him derided by his older siblings, and bullied at school.

Each of the the four children has his or her own baggage; each is battle wearied from their experiences of WWII. Evie seeks certainty and truth after unnamed horrors of bombing, including a close call at her school. Patricia is overwhelmed by a need to do the right thing. Simon feels distant from his siblings, and ashamed of his reading difficulties.

In ‘The Lost Magician’, Piers Torday has created a work that while reminiscent of Narnia, offers contemporary considerations. From PTSD, homophobia, dyslexia, image identity, the refugee crisis, to threats to the creative arts, these issues are real for the characters and their readers. We empathise with each of the children, and the library worlds through which they traverse. We cheer their individual battles and discoveries, and encourage their fragile recovery and mending relationship.

Including their story within an MI5 secret investigation is a superb stroke. We are desperate to learn more about Professor Diana Kelly and the further motives of her study. What happens next?

For committed readers, those with keen inference skills, for reading aloud, and for sheer wonder and warmth, we recommend ‘The Lost Magician’. This is the work of a storytelling maestro!

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The Lost Magician

Piers Torday, with art work by Ben Mantle


Barnfield Hall will be home to the four children while their parents find somewhere to live after the war. They are free to roam, though warned the top floor is out of bounds. Larry and Grey Bear are  first to venture into this forbidden space. A small door appears, inviting them into Folio, a Library of Reads, Unreads and Never Reads. This is a world of possibility and impossibility created by ‘The Lost Magician’. What happens when these war-wearied children are catapulted into magical worlds at war with each other? When their individual inclinations and experiences lead them to make decisions that affect memories, thoughts, dreams and hopes?
Piers Torday, rather like (magician) Nicholas Crowne, has created something exceptional in this provocative, spellbinding book, the first of a series.

Nominated for the inaugural Biblio-Buzz Alexandra Palace book award. 


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