The Golden Key: A Victorian Fairy Tale by George MacDonald

Rating: 4 of 5

Synopsis: “When young Mossy hears the legend that anyone who manages to find the end of a rainbow will be rewarded with a golden key, he becomes determined to do exactly that. But finding the golden key is the easy part — discovering what it unlocks is a much harder task. Together with a runaway girl named Tangle, the two set out to find the key’s purpose — and discover their own along the way.

George MacDonald’s beloved fairytale is brought to life by Ruth Sanderson’s sumptuous illustrations, making this a perfect gift for readers of all ages.” (source)

My thoughts: I first heard about this book by reading “Unlocking Wonder in ‘The Golden Key’” by Ruth Sanderson. So, I admit, the biggest reason I requested a copy was Ruth’s fairy tale illustrations, which, I’m happy to report, were breathtaking. Scratchboard art blows my mind; being a non-artist, I just can’t wrap my brain around how artists like Ruth create such beauty by scratching away at solid black to reveal bit by bit a complete picture. The proportions, the balance, the fine details…beautiful!

As for George MacDonald’s fairy tale, which I read in one sitting, I found it easily adaptable to the reader’s interpretation and I like stories where I’m given leeway to apply my own meaning. But I can certainly see where this tale could be presented as a Christian fairy tale for those so inclined. I found Ruth’s art the perfect complement to the tale, and MacDonald’s Fairyland was how I always imagine it: full of creatures both light and dark.

5 stars for the fairy tale illustrations; 3 stars for the fairy tale itself.

Check out this gallery for a sneak peek of Ruth Sanderson’s fairy-tale art in “The Golden Key.”

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Buy direct from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

Received ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.