This is one of those stories that is much bigger than the pages that tell it. It is a story that works on the imagination the imagination so that the details, the events, become more than the words themselves can describe. The sum is greater than the parts. The Wardrobe. The Lion. The Witch. These things become iconic by the end of the tale and stay with you after the book is put back on the shelf. The main events of the story, which really begin once all the children are in Narnia together, are remarkably short, but so memorable, it feels as if one is reading a much larger novel.
This is at once very much a children’s story and at the same time a story for all people at all times. But it is best read through a child-like lens, remembering what it was like to hide in closets or imagine you were a knight or some other sort of hero, saving the day.
The Pevinse children who enter Narnia through a magical wardrobe are entirely relatable from the start. We’ve seen Edmund’s brand of brattiness, Peter’s kind of good-natured leadership, and Lucy’s earnest innocence. Only Susan is somewhat less defined, more of a sounding board for Peter and Lucy than a real character in her own right.
Aslan is the most compelling of all the characters. He is both regal and playful, wrathful and tender. His actions are not always what one would expect, but that is the point. He is not a tame lion, after all. Nevertheless, from the moment he is introduced, one has every confidence that he knows what is best and will do what is best when it is the right time.
This book has far too many wonderful things to tackle in a short review. Far better to simply say, this is one that everyone needs to read and own and re-read over and over again as the years go by. As they say, once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen. And readers will certainly feel like kings or queens after having read this book. This book is simply one of the best every written.