The Midnight Folk

The Midnight Folk Don t you have any fear Kay We re the guards we are We hear that the house has gone all to sixes and sevens since we left it but that s going to be remedied now Young Kay Harker lives in an old hou

  • Title: The Midnight Folk
  • Author: John Masefield
  • ISBN: 9780006724162
  • Page: 211
  • Format: Paperback
  • Don t you have any fear, Kay We re the guards, we are We hear that the house has gone all to sixes and sevens since we left it, but that s going to be remedied now Young Kay Harker lives in an old house in the country, filled with portraits of his ancestors His only companions are his unpleasant guardian Sir Theopompus and his governess Sylvia Daisy Pouncer who, Kay s Don t you have any fear, Kay We re the guards, we are We hear that the house has gone all to sixes and sevens since we left it, but that s going to be remedied now Young Kay Harker lives in an old house in the country, filled with portraits of his ancestors His only companions are his unpleasant guardian Sir Theopompus and his governess Sylvia Daisy Pouncer who, Kay suspects, has stolen all his toys Life is lonely and dull, until one night Kay s great grandpapa Harker, a sea captain, steps out of his portrait to tell him about a stolen treasure that belongs to Kay s family The evil Abner Brown is searching for it too, but Kay is helped by the midnight folk creatures like Nibbins the cat and Rollicum Bitem Lightfoot the fox, and even his lost toys, who will join him on his dangerous quest.The Midnight Folk is a feast of imaginative story telling, a glorious cornucopia of pirates and witches, lost treasure and talking animals Although it was published in 1927, it evokes an older world houses are lit by oil lamps, and travel is by horse, carriage or broomstick Masefield perfectly captures a child s perspective, from the terrors of tigers under the bed to the horrors of declining a Latin adjective Yet there is also plenty of humour that adults will appreciate, from Miss Piney Trigger, who swigs champagne in bed and prides herself on having backed a host of Derby winners, to Kay s lessons Divinity was easy, as it was about Noah s Ark French was fairly easy, as it was about the cats of the daughter of the gardener This mingling of past and present, reality and fantasy, has made this one of the most rewarding and influential children s books ever written.

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    1 thought on “The Midnight Folk”

    1. This was one of my favourite books when I was a child. It was creepy and real, I suspected. Parents may deny it but things are different in the dark and the goings-on at midnight in the book might be real, only a child knows for certain and only in the dark.It's kind of the antithesis of Disney. Dark with horror and fear. Parents, themselves grown up on more than a spoonful of sugar themselves, love the cheeky chappies and happy, sparkly endings of Disney with all the bosom-y almost pre-teen pri [...]

    2. A really great childrens book. I can see that some readers might find this inaccessible. It's a book that requires attention to be paid and some parts of conversation, just like the box of delights could be fairly described as going on a bit. But if you persevere you are rewarded with a very special and important story. I am in no doubt this story had lots that inspired J.K.Rowling, and if anyone has read both this and the voyage of the dawn treador they will know that inspiration is far too pol [...]

    3. An amazing dream of a book that unfolds with surreal logic as cats talk, witches fly, foxes plot against gamekeepers, model ships sail away with a water-rat captains and a hundred other odd and wonderful things, while Kay tries to discover the fate of his great-grandfather's lost treasure. The voices and the language are as magical as the various miraculous and mysterious occurrences. It utterly refuses to make any sense of things or offer explanations or justifications. It's pretty much its own [...]

    4. I'm being a little silly in characterizing this book as magical realism, but it does seem to fit it best. LikeAlice in Wonderland, it depicts fluid physical laws. Unlike Alice, it draws no really meaningful lines between the world where the rules apply and that where they do not. The magical happenings that befall Kay Harker partake both of the logic of the dream world and the concerns of the waking one.Kay is a young boy living in his familial country house, but overseen by unrelated and seemin [...]

    5. I remember my mum reading some of this to me when I was about 8 or 9 and being mightily confused and not overly impressed. I presume I finished reading it for myself, being an insatiable bookworm who kept a torch under the pillow for emergency reading sessions. Having sampled the delights of E. Nesbit and C.S.Lewis who wrote so beautifully for children I am afraid I found Masefield's prose very contrived and convoluted. Mum, however, being a great fan of the Laureate's poetry followed this up wi [...]

    6. Absolute classic. I place this (and its sequel The Box of Delights) right beside The Chronicles of Narnia and The Children of Green Knowe series. The imagination at work here is that of a genius storyteller. The imagery, the prose and the phrasing create an unforgettable adventure story full of magic and fantasy and lost treasure. There are witches and talking animals and toys that come to life. I guess you can tell that I thoroughly enjoyed this.

    7. Kay Harker lives in a vast old country house, and is looked after by an unpleasant duo: the oily and egregious Sir Theopompous and the petulant and punitive Sylvia Daisy Pouncer. In her zeal to educate Kay on the finer points of Latin grammar, Sylvia Daisy has even taken away all of Kay’s toys. Life seems very dull, until out of an old family portrait steps Kay’s great-grandfather, a sea captain, who, if legend is to be believed, made off with a fabulous treasure.Soon Kay is engaged in a thr [...]

    8. With the annual rewatch of The Box of Delights tomorrow, it was time to get around to Kay Harker's earlier adventures. Though I've seen the BBC adaptation plenty of times, I don't think I ever read either of Masefield's books when young - and though this is charming, I'm glad the BBC version of the Box stands alone. For if Kay has already had all these adventures, these tangles with Abner Brown and Pouncer, then the Box itself comes to seem a little less wonderful, less of a numinous intrusion i [...]

    9. This reads as if Masefield wrote it in one go and that's why it’s a bit rough around the edges - and also why it's full of amazing events and episodes that just couldn’t have been planned. If you want the one you have to put up with the other. I particularly like the bit where Kay is taken down to the guard-room and finds out that the toys that he thought he’d had taken from him are all alive and well and secretly looking after him still. I also like the way that animals and people change [...]

    10. I cherish this book. I still have my early 60's Puffin paperback edition with the 1930's b/w spot illustrations on the cover washed over by psychedelic swatches of (midnight) blue and purple. My parents listened to a broadcast version on BBC radio c1960, and soon after bought the book--eventually read (and avidly re-read) by my sister and me. The story grabs you from the very beginning and doesn't let go. Sheer magic. Contains some of the finest descriptive prose I've ever read in a children's b [...]

    11. I know that it is all to easy to say a book is dated - it can be many things- from references to actually events, technology - all the way to words and phrases. But this book just feels old - it shows it in the mannerism and attitudes of the characters, it shows itself in many subtle and small ways. And it all adds to he charm of the book, you see the whole book has quite a simple plot to it - its the many characters and adventures that kay has along his way that is the real story. At times it c [...]

    12. I read this because I really enjoyed the Box of delights and this is the first book he wrote about Kay. I heard that it wasn't as good, it's definitely not as good as the sequel, the story is far less cohesive, but it was still enjoyable. This is one that I think children would really enjoy, it is just full of imagination. Animals all have their own personalities, paintings offer up doorways to different places and times, there are witches and pirates and hidden treasure. It's never quite obviou [...]

    13. Not as charming as its sequel, The Box of Delights, but necessary to understand the characters and plot of it. The Midnight Folk moves at a rapid pace, and isn't a book for slow, lingering reading. It must be read as quickly as possible, so as to keep up with all the characters and settings and action.

    14. I'm rereading this (to my son) and am as happy as the first time. Everything unfolds perfectly from a child's perspective. Infused with wonder, with its own dreamlike logic, offering no simple answers, there's nothing cute or overly nice about the story or characters. Put this on the same shelf as Alice In Wonderland and The Phantom Tollbooth.

    15. I absolutely adored this book as a child. Everything about it resonated with me, far more so than any of his other works. Perhaps it was the cats. I do, and always have, had a 'thing' for cats. But it was also the elements of magic and mystery, and the wonderful names of the animals. Just superb.

    16. I admired the writing, but didn't much enjoy reading this. Masefield builds the characters almost solely through dialogue and throws you right into the action (admirable!), but there are so many characters operating in obscurely devious ways, the plot becomes hard to follow. The story is imaginative, but lacks warmth. I never felt like I broke through the periphery of eavesdropping.

    17. A little night magic: less well known than its sequel, The Box of Delights, and understandably, if not deservedly so, for this is less an action adventure story and more a series of vignettes. But what episodes they are, weaving fantasy, magic and intrigue and you’ll be rooting for little Kay, a plucky chap, against his mean-spirited and unpleasant keepers. The animal helpers are splendid fellows, particularly Rollicum the Fox, and there’s a curiously muted intro for characters such as Maria [...]

    18. I have vague recollections of maybe reading this book as a child or I might be thinking of the TV program, or the sequel, 'The Box of Delights'. Anyway, I couldn't remember enough to spoil the enjoyment of reading this lovely tale.Kay seems to be a very lonely boy - living with his governess, a maid and a cook. One night, he is woken his cat and taken to meet the 'folk' that move around the world at midnight.From talking animals to his come-to-life toys, from witches to his long dead ancestors, [...]

    19. For anyone who came to Kay Harker's adventures through the BBC1 Box of Delights series, The Midnight Folk is probably doomed to be read as a mere prequel. But while it's looser and even more arbitrary in its magic than the Box, it has its own strengths. Seekings, Kay's rambling old house, comes into its own as a location, and the book is strongest when it focuses on the terror, delight and invention of childhood exploration. The layered narratives - Kay's treasure quest in the book's present and [...]

    20. I complained about the chapters being too long in The Box of Delights - well, here there are NO chapters. It gets confusing. I'm still puzzled about things in this book (though I very much like that the tacked-on ending from BoD is specifically refuted). In BoD, Peter, Susan, and Maria are Kay's real-life cousins and they participate (even on their own without Kay). In this book, their names are mentioned maybe twice and I really don't understand what they are supposed to be. They certainly aren [...]

    21. Kay, a little boy living with a severe governess in the country, begins living a secret life at night where he encounters witches, cats, foxes, and other characters, and hunts for the lost treasure entrusted to his great grandfather. This edition has splendid black and white illustrations."Pinked them in the plexus' was the phrase. All these fine old phrases are gone out, since pinafores and temperance became the rage.""A man like my Pa is not easily to be quenched, any more than I am. My heart [...]

    22. I found this title because I wanted to read a children’s classic for myself over Christmas. I was reading reviews on The Box of Delights and found out this was the first one in the series. I’m so glad I did! What an enchanting, magical British children’s story. This story follows the little boy Kay searching for a lost treasure rumored to be about and all the magical creatures that appear at night also in search of the treasure. This has a way about it that actually might make it a *wee* b [...]

    23. Not quite a classic but very enjoyable, and a satisfying, unexpected find. The New York Review has brought this book and its sequel, The Box of Delights, back in print in very nice editions. Loved the rough illustrations that go right along with the story, which is often surreal and headlong in the way a young and unfettered imagination can be. Shape changes, talking animals, fairy doors opening almost at random--Masefield just throws them in as needed to keep things moving, but it all works bet [...]

    24. I wanted to read 'The Box of Delights' and found out this was the prequel The use of imagination in this book is amazing but I have reached the age (unfortunately) where I need explanations as to why a character can suddenly breathe underwater or ride a fox or fly and be mistaken for a bat. So all in all, I found it a bit hard going but worth sticking with, I think.

    25. Previously read: December 18, 2012----------------This is an excellent children's book. It clearly inspired Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book," and there are so many things that J.K. Rowling borrowed for Harry Potter that it's downright ridiculous.

    26. A wonderfull story full of a hodgepodge of fantasy. Rollicum Bitum, The Keeper, the withces, Brassy Cop.I crept out of covert and what did I see?Ow-ow-ow-diddle-ow!But seven fat bunnies, each waiting for me.With a poachers noosey, catch the fat goosey, Ho saysRollicum Bitem

    27. I had bought this for my 8 yr old granddaughter after reading all the rave reviews I was so very disappointed! SO MANY wonderful stories to read that this one cannot come close to.

    28. A disappointment (so why 3 stars rather than 2? Bumped up for historical importance and author's literary qualities but for sheer pleasure it gave me, it's really a 2). Even Madeleine L'Engle, who wrote an afterword for it, damned it with faint praise (paraphrasing, but basically "it's over-complicated and confusing but kids out to be able to figure it out nonetheless). Too many characters, too many shifts in time and place, too many dreams, or dreams which turn out not to be dreams, and despit [...]

    29. Not my normal style of kids books, but I really did enjoy this one and know why it is considered a classic. I loved all the rhymes and songs and tongue twisting names (Twiney Pricker, Piney Trigger!) and funny speech spelled out so you have to pronounce it out loud to understand. Not quite like nonsense stories, which I can’t stand (Alice is not a favourite around here), but definitely not too realistic either, and lots of depth that is asking for a second reading. I wish I could get the seque [...]

    30. Probably 3.5. The occasionally-disjointed episodic nature showed its age (the mcguffin was found by a minor character off stage!). Despite that, the parade of strangeness and inventiveness was really fun. Also, the question of what was real and what was not was always blurred, which I approved of. If you weren't reading this aloud, you could probably knock it out in a few hours. Worth a short trip into Kay's early 20th century England.

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