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The Puzzle Box by Edward Picot


On her way home for the Christmas holidays, Dora is given a mysterious box by her father. She also discovers that there’s a boy she’s never seen before in the back of the car—but he vanishes when she tries to tell her Dad about him. Then her Dad vanishes too: has he gone to work in London, or has he been abducted by a frightening black beetle? Perhaps the box holds the answer to all these questions—but it isn’t long before people are trying to take it away from her.

“The Puzzle Box” is a story for children and adults about magic and myth, in the tradition of C S Lewis’s Narnia books and “The Box of Delights” by John Masefield. It’s in 12 parts, updated monthly, due to finish in December 2008. It also has interactive, new media elements.

A complete novel

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Listed: Aug 29, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

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Enjoyed It

By Jim Zoetewey, editor, author of The Legion of Nothing

Oct 4, 2008: I should probably make one comment before I write about the story.

I hate flash.

In case you don’t know, flash is a technique for animating on the web. The Puzzle Box uses flash to open every chapter, forcing you to wait while an animation goes by.

It’s not a terrible thing, but, as mentioned, I hate flash and so prominent use of it isn’t a way to get on my good side.

With that said, I should mention that I enjoyed the story anyway.

As mentioned in the story’s listing, it bills itself as a story for children and adults in the tradition of Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and Masefield’s The Box of Delights.

To that end, it uses simple and effective prose, a child for a main character, and magical elements that insert weirdness into everyday life.

The plot is straightforward children’s fantasy: the main character’s father disappears and the child has to find him. Other elements of the story include the mysterious box of the title, a boy that seems to be invisible to everyone but the main character, and (the ghost of?) William Blake. Did I mention the beetles? It also includes beetles.

The characters are simple enough for children to find them accessible and complex enough to be interesting.

When the story is over, I may try reading it to my kids. It will be interesting to see what they think.

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