I'm currently behind on reviews, so don't be surprised if the recent reviews are a bit sparse.

And Put Away Childish Things

Cover of And Put Away Childish Things.

Good god why are all takes on Narnia so depressing? I’m the first person to rant about C.S. Lewis, I really am, but come on! I didn’t enjoy this trip at all – I’m not going to call it the British alternative to The Magicians, because that would be wrong. Kinda. But seeing an aging whiny cowardly dude run through creepy, depressing not-Narnia, occasionally broken up by some pandemic depression was not my jam. Would probably have worked as a short story, honestly, because the premise is kinda neat, if you don’t get to spend too much time with all the depression.

Plot summary

Beware: full spoilers! Also probably incomplete and possibly incomprehensible.

Harry is the grandson of the woman who wrote the important Narnia-like Underhill books, also a slimy annoying talkshow host. During one of those programs that look into the family background of people, it turns out his grandmother was asylum-level insane. He is super upset, tabloids dig up dirt on him too, then the pandemic rolls around. Sees things, thinks he’s hallucinating, but it’s obviously real.

Gets kidnapped by people who believe Underhill is real, and when he knows nothing about that, they plan to kinda ritually murder him to open a portal, but get murdered first while prepping for that. With the famous sword from the story. Harry flees, and is taken by a mysterious investigator to his grandfather’s home, where there’s a wardrobe (despite no wardrobe being in the story) that his grandmother had made. Her husband took it in the divorce – he lectured at Magdalen, so C.S. Lewis probably just yoinked it.

Harry goes in, comes out in a terribly run-down ~~Narnia~~ Underhill where everything is filling with static-like snow and is depressing. Also the giant horror clown is walking around. The denizens can feel him there, and are divided on if he should take up the crown (and meet the queen in the castle) and restore the world or let it run down. The queen turns out to be his great-great-grandmother.

Lots of chasing, lots of minor horrors. Harry runs away like a coward and makes it back to the real world, destroying the wardrobe in the process. Months have passed. Pandemic. Depression. He and the investigator, Seitchman, meet with the Underhill beings, hear them out and decide to go back to meet the Queen. Everything is even worse at the castle. The Queen analyses Harry, and he meets tolerances …

which means she wants to take possession of his body, which she (really: he) has been doing since discovering this pocket dimension in the 1600s. If she succeeds, everything in Underhill will be destroyed and remade for the next kiddo – she waits to possess the next victim until after they’ve given birth in order to avoid having to go through that mess, lol. Harry’s captured, freed, there’s a huge showdown, the queen is defeated by way of the terrible terrible clown.

Seitchman (really a researcher into folklore) goes to find other pocket dimensions and makes a world that the others have decided on while Harry sticks around to keep the world alive for a while by reading them the distorted stories that his great-grandmother wrote down after getting them from her bonkers mother. They manage to transfer all the inhabitants out before letting it run down. Pocket dimensions probably exist because the universe is a simulation or runs on something, but tbh who knows.

Harry returns to reality and serves as point of contact for the others, and decides to write more book for the franchise to finance the whole thing. The End.


β€œWe’re breaking and entering.”
β€œDid you see me break anything? You ever hear anyone accused of just β€˜entering’?”