On The Chronicles of Narnia
Forgotten Castles and Magical Creatures in Hiding
On Finding Hidden Things in Prince Caspian
A wild forest grew across the street from the house in the suburbs where I grew up. Technically, it was merely a “holding basin”–a patch of land that city engineers had set aside from development to hold back the floodwaters that occasionally swelled up from the little creek that ran through the neighborhood. But it was dense and untamed; much of it was swampland, which made it inaccessible to all but those with a strong sense of adventure, not to mention hip-boots.
As a boy, my friends and I spent almost every waking hour in that forest, and slowly but surely it surrendered its secrets: a broken well, a decaying shack left by homesteaders, part of an abandoned railroad track said to have been laid over an old Indian trail. Once, while walking through dense thicket in the fall, my friends and I noticed that many of the trees were suddenly sporting big red apples, crisp and delicious. Oh! we realized. Orchard Street got its name because it ran along an actual orchard!
All this in an area not even a square mile in size.
I can’t help think about that little wood whenever I re-read Prince Caspian. Upon first inspection, the forest in which Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy find themselves after being drawn to Narnia from the English train station is dense and impenetrable, too. Even after fighting their way out of a thicket of thorns and nettles, they’re somewhere completely unfamiliar.
At first they wonder, is it even Narnia? “It …