The Books of Magic

The Books of MagicThe Books of Magic is an interesting trade paperback comic book. Written by Neil Gaiman with intriguing artwork from John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, and Paul Johnson, the story follows Tim Hunter as he learns about the existence of magic and faces a choice.

Some of the story felt a little old, but that could be due to the fact that I have read much of Neil Gaiman’s work, just not in publication order. The Books of Magic is a fun, quick read, safe for most anyone who is open to the idea of magic. Not necessarily written for kids, I would comfortably hand a copy to 12(ish)-year-old.

I have cross posted this from goodreads. There are spoilers.

We meet Tim Hunter as a snot-nosed, annoying pre-teen who is trying to lose the creepy men in trenchcoats who keep appearing wherever he is. They tell him he has the potential to be a great user of magic someday, but that he needs to know more about magic before that happens. And so they take him, not unlike the ghosts in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, through the realms and times of magic so that he can make an informed decision.

I really loved that the Trenchcoat Brigade let Tim make his own choice, and that Time immediately regretted his decision. Like any 12 year-old I’ve ever talked with who has had to make a tough life choice at an early age. What does anyone really know about their mind when they’re just beginning to mark out their identity. I hope that Tim successfully navigated the path he began when the story closed, and I hope that John Constantine, Doctor Occult, and the stranger return to help him become good. It would be sad if his mentors left him with his first choice and did not allow for him to change his mind.

This is a safe story about encountering the hidden realities of the world. We are told Tim is being hunted by something called the Cold Flame, and several instances show a few of those who would kill him. But unlike The Graveyard Book, Tim does not have to face the dangers himself. Even the one danger he faces, Mister E at the end of the universe, gets interrupted by Destiny and Death (from the Sandman series), so that Tim ultimately remains no worse for the encounter. The safety stems from the youth of the author at the time. 1990-91 was the original publication date of the comic books, and Neil Gaiman was not the seasoned author he has become.

2 thoughts on “The Books of Magic”

  1. you had me at “Neil Gaiman” and “comic book”. this looks great! originally published in 1990, has it been recently republished? or it something I’ll have to find on ABE?

  2. I picked up the trade in Barnes and Noble, so it should be relatively easy to find. I’m not sure if the publisher is doing a reissue, or if it’s just always in demand.

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