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Come, sit with me beside the broad hearthstone and gaze into the depths of the fire when it burns low, for not among the leaping flames alone are there to be seen marvelous things…
“Another delightful story for children by the author of ‘The Princess White Flame.” The Wizard of the Cave of Darkness imprisoned the Shadow Witch when she helped the Princess White Flame escape. Her adventures in consequence are told with delicate charm. A treat for the lover of beautiful fairy tales.” -The New Republic
“There is nothing more difficult than to write a fairy story for children and to write so that the story is real. The trouble nowadays with tellers of fairy tales is that they usually adopt an attitude of playful condescension, as of those who babble for the pleasure of infants, and must let the rest of public know that it is all merely fooling. They pat their fairies and gnomes on the head and tell them to behave prettily and keep the little boys and girls amused, and not bother the grownups. They don’t pretend to be telling the truth in their fairy tales, and not even the youngest child is imposed upon by them. It is no small pleasure, then, to come upon a fairy tale told in the one way there is to tell it – told as though it were a story of a world so familiar that it requires no explanation, no guide – a story where magic is taken for granted, as railway trains or printing presses are here taken for granted – a world beautiful and wonderful certainly, but quite as actual as a rose or a sunset.
“It is in this way that Miss Crownfield tells her fairy stories. She wrote one before the present book, and it is to be hoped that she will write many more. Both her stories are laid in the same realm of magic, and are closely associated with each other, though each makes a separate book. It is in the hands of fire and shadow and darkness that her adventures are set, and it is in magic contests between the good fairies and the fire country and the evil ones of the dark land that they deal. ‘The Shadow Witch’ is princess of the grey land of shadow between the two. She has caught a glimpse of the freedom, the joy and the love of the Land of Fire, and has turned away from the Darkness, ruled over by the wicked wizard, her brother. He has managed to imprison her, and it is the great privilege of Prince Ember to come from his bright and happy dominion to her rescue. How he accomplishes this makes the story.
“The book, being a fairy tale and a real one, is based of course on actual truth – on life, no less. Its simplicity is that of all straight-forward tales, told to those who will understand by one who trusts this understanding. Miss Crownfield has a fine, unstrained style, and because her book is for children she puts the best of herself into it, seeks the precise word of phrase, is not content with less than beauty…there is a greatness in Miss Crownfield that cannot quite bear the piling up of agony. From the first moment she assures you that all will be well.
“The book is one that is sure to please children immensely, and one which the older members of the family will find pleasure in reading. It is a delicately done piece of work, a labor of love, and there is about it a charm not easy to define, but born probably of the conviction of the writer that she is giving a happiness to her audience equal to that she feels in creating her tale – the happiness of good work well done for those who will love good work.”
-Hildegarde Hawthorne, The New Church Messenger, 1922
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