Through the Wardrobe
Your Favorite Authors on C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia
Edited by Herbie Brennan
Release date: January 2008
With the release of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, alike to the release of each of the Lord of the Rings trilogy of movies, focus is intensified on the books from which they were spawned. The original’s boost in sales, guides, chronicles, and the like are always big hits (one only needs to look at the 26 J.R.R. Tolkien books that decorate my fantasy bookshelf as proof).
So with Prince Caspian doing relatively well at the U.S. box office, and still to be released in markets such as Australia and the UK, it’s no surprise to see a rise in Chronicles of Narnia/C.S. Lewis books on sale.
One book for anyone searching for a closer look in to the world of Narnia is Through the Wardrobe: Your Favorite Authors on C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.
Edited by Herbie Brennan and featuring essays from 16 authors (including Brennan), this “Completely Unauthorized” book answers questions such as “Why is Prince Caspian the ultimate teenager” and “Why Edmund Pevensie is totally crush-worthy.”
A disclaimer, for those of you alike to me who are venturing through the wardrobe for the first time, this book is heavily spoiler laden. A total of 7 books populate C.S. Lewis’s most popular universe, and the essays vary from focusing on a specific book to themes from all seven.
To be perfectly honest, the contributors who have been chosen to portray their love and opinions of C.S. Lewis seem to be from the D-list of authors. I will admit that my reading tastes don’t amount to the entirety of current literature, but only one name actually stood out to me, and only after I had gone to my wall of Star Trek books to hunt her down (Diane Duane).
However, despite the fact that it seems that Brennan has been rejected by anyone of any real renown, those he does present to us are witty, classy, and to a tee, obsessed with C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia.
My favorite essay from the book (“King Edmund the Cute: Anatomy of a Girlhood Crush” by Diana Peterfreund) is so well written and executed that you can’t help but be drawn to the author. She presents such a compelling case for her girlhood crush on Edmund Pevensie that you can’t help but be swayed by her opinion.
When you deal with C.S. Lewis’s work, however, you are naturally going to encounter speculation and talk about religion. The world of Narnia is full, and purposefully as well, of religious references, innuendo, and plain out and out allegorical references to the faith of Christianity.
So, as a religious person myself, I was remarkably pleased with the way that it was dealt with throughout the book. No one hit on the religious references as anything other than an extra layer of depth and interest to a book that, even without its allegorical backings, stands on its own as a brilliant story.
The essays cover more than just girlhood crushes and religion though. Brent Hartinger, in his essay “Forgotten Castles and Magical Creatures in Hiding: On Seeing Hidden Things in Prince Caspian,” so eloquently bespoke of the magic he had encountered in his life. Descriptions of his childhood hideaways and play areas, forgotten areas of the world where only he and his friends could find weaved a story that beautifully showed an aspect of magic in our own world.
This small book, though seemingly bereft of any real heavy names, should not suffer because of that. Though Brennan didn’t manage to score any big names, those names he did get write so well and evocatively that I had no choice but to immediately dive into Prince Caspian weeks before I had planned to read it.
Through the Wardrobe: Your Favorite Authors on C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia is definitely a book worth adding to your collection, whether you’re a lifelong fan of C.S. Lewis’s work, or a newly arrived obsessee.