The Land Beyond the Wardrobe
(A Book Review of C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)
One is never too old to appreciate a good story; this can never be truer when I opened the pages of C. S. Lewis’s beloved classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, inviting me in to the magical world of The Chronicles of Narnia.
Admittedly, the book was never introduced to me when I was a child or even in any of my high school reading. It is only when I watched Disney’s wonderful movie adaptation where it came to my attention that it was based on a book. Still, it had taken a number of years before I had actually read it along with the whole series. Do I lament the fact that this was not a part of and came into my life way past my childhood or even when I’m too old (but not actually) to be called a teen? I believe a book chooses the reader when one is ready to receive it, and it comes in such a propitious time of one’s life.
Taken as it is one can easily enjoy The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (from here on out referred to as LWW for convenience’s sake) as a simple adventure and fairy tale of brothers and sisters Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie who one day discovers a wardrobe that acts as a bridge into a mystical land called Narnia. Lewis populates this enchanted landscape with talking animals and creatures inspired from legend and mythology like fauns, minotaurs, dwarfs, centaurs, giants and Father Christmas, to name just a few, that adds to the delight of young and adult readers. At the heart of the book’s plot is a quest that concerns the Penvensies, a prophecy they must fulfill to right wrongs along with the coming of Aslan, king of kings, to bring an end to the hundred-year reign of the White Witch and her evil spell that placed Narnia in a never-ending winter.
Those above along with magic, treachery, sacrifice and the battle pitting Aslan’s army against the White Witch’s hordes are some of the elements of the story I strongly responded to when I saw the film and still are when I subsequently read the book. Yet other than conjuring a fantastic yarn for the enjoyment of the readers there is more than that meets the eye in LWW.
What I think draw the initiates and enthusiasts alike to Lewis’s masterpiece repeatedly is that LLW is more than its story, as one intending to dig deep within its plot can discover for themselves a treasure trove of lessons. Indeed, it incorporates Christian allusions and symbols that at first glance is already obvious—much to the chagrin of its adult readers—yet the author handles it with grace and he isn’t heavy handed with the message of his book for we are already disarmed by the charming voice of the narrator. As smooth as snow the story draws us in, so much so that the fluidity of Lewis’s underlying narrative manages to communicate in us gems of lessons in faith, reason, as well as moral truth with us being not quite aware of it at first.
As humans there is built in us a trait, whether we be aware of it or not, a deep-seated natural ability to determine truth on a subconscious and emotional level and be attracted to it. This I believe is what C. S. Lewis taps into, that’s why for generations now readers of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (and all of the books in The Chronicles of Narnia) are easily drawn it; that with Lewis’s pen we are not only touched by the aesthetics of a tale well told, it is to experience, too, the hand of the divine.