Book Review: The Box of Delights

The Box of Delights
The Box of Delights by John Masefield

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Kay comes home for the holidays, he meets a strange man who warns him, “The Wolves are running,” and entrusts him with a magical Box to keep safe. The evil Abner Brown is after the box with his gang of kidnappers and cutthroats, and when people begin disappearing in Kay’s town, Kay must use the Box to travel into the Past to save his friends.

I had high expectations for this book, and while I did enjoy it, I was a little disappointed. The plot has many gaping holes in it, the characters act in ways that don’t really make sense, and I never did figure out WHY exactly the villains wanted to steal the Box of Delights.

The one thing that lived up to my expectations was the Box of Delights itself. I loved the fairies, mouselings, and Herne the Hunter, and magical ladies of light, the Greeks, and pirates and Roman soldiers. All the butterflies, birds, and bees that helped Kay escape from the wolves were just beautiful written and wonderfully charming. All that magic was exactly what I wanted from this book!

(Spoilers are hidden.)
Plot hole #1:
It’s mentioned many many times that several Rats really hate Kay. They say over and over that Kay “should have his head chopped off, because he is going to get a Dog for Christmas.” And I kept waiting for that famous Dog to make an appearance. Why is so important that Kay is going to get a Dog for Christmas? How will this affect our plot? Why are the Rats so upset over this? And why is it always “Dog” with a capital D, and not just “dog”? What is so amazingly special about this Dog?
And it NEVER happens. Kay doesn’t get a dog on Christmas morning, because the book ends at Christmas Eve midnight. What was the point of that whole charade?!?

Plot hole #2:
Why does the evil Abner want the Box of Delights? He sure goes to a lot of trouble to get it, but why? We never find out. He steals a lot of jewels, kidnaps a lot of people, and all supposedly to get the Box of Delights. (view spoiler) This question is never answered satisfactorily.

Plot hole #3:
Why does the evil Abner want to kidnap a lot of people in order to stop the Christmas church services? When he kidnaps people to question them about the whereabouts of the Box, I understand. He wants information. But why is he trying to keep anyone from attending the Christmas Eve church event? Why does he care if people go to church on Christmas Eve? How does that factor into his plans? He jumps through hoops, and has countless evil people working for him, and even calls up black magic to prevent the Christmas Eve services, and for what? This question is never answered at all. What was the point of all that hoopla?!?

Plot hole #4:
(view spoiler) What is happening here? What is wrong with this plot?

Plot hole #5:
Mention is made of a “Boy” who apparently can tell the future. Who is this Boy? Where did he come from? (view spoiler) Who is this person? We don’t KNOW! We will never know. Because this plot is crap and it doesn’t explain anything.

Character stupidity #1:
So little Maria gets kidnapped, and for days and days no one minds. No one is out looking for her. The police are informed, but they don’t care either. “Oh, she’ll turn up somewhere,” they say. “Maria always lands on her feet. She’ll probably join the gang, and teach them a thing or two.”
(view spoiler)everyone takes it in stride. Oh sure, people get kidnapped all the time. No big deal. How can you just go to dinner and play with your toys and take a posset and go to bed when your own sister is kidnapped and thrown in a dungeon somewhere? What is wrong with you?!? These characters make no sense.

Character stupidity #2:
Kay is warned multiple times not to get lost in the Past like old Arnold did. Herne warns Kay that he might not be able to rescue Kay from his wanderings in the Past, but Kay doesn’t care. (view spoiler) This frustrates me so much! Kay is supposedly a level-headed person, brave but not stupid, and then he goes acting like a moron, taking unnecessary risks.

Character stupidity #3:
So the children are all outside, playing in the snow, making a lopsided snowman, when the adults call for them to come in. “You’ll catch your death of cold, come inside!” The girls grumble, but go inside to put on dry clothes, and have a hot cocoa, and sit by the toasty fire. The boys say, “Too many rules around here, let’s go exploring.” and they run off to have adventures in the snow for hours and hours.
What was THAT?! Why did the girls go in and the boys didn’t? Girls are more obedient, and boys are rebellious? Girls prefer the comforts of the indoors instead of adventures outside? Girls can’t handle the rigors of a wintery day, but boys can? And after all the fuss they made about Maria being so hardy and so capable in the face of adversity and adventure, etc.. etc…
This is ridiculous.

Then the WORST happened. The WORST THING that can possible happen in ANY book EVER… happened in this book. The most horrible faux pas of ALL writing of all time! The last sentence of the book… “Kay woke up, and it was all a dream.”
What the..?!?!?! AAGGGGHHHHH!!!!!! I hate you forever.

View all my reviews

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