The Reading Room: enchanted objects in literature

Because everyday things can be exciting, too

1. The Mirror of Erised

First seen in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling (£6.29, Bloomsbury) The wizarding world of Harry Potter and his friends explodes (in some cases, literally) with enchanted objects you wouldn’t usually look twice at, but the Mirror of Erised serves a more meaningful purpose than most. When our young hero finds it by chance in his first school year at Hogwarts, he realises that glancing into the glass shows him what he wants above all: the chance to see his parents, who were killed trying to protect him from dark magic as a baby.

2. The Silver Shoes

First seen in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum (£12.99, Usborne) After the Wicked Witch of the West perishes under Dorothy’s house in a tornado, the young girl comes into possession of her silver slippers. Initially, their power is unknown: “there is some charm connected with them; but what it is we never knew,” says the Good Witch of the North. It becomes apparent later, when Dorothy is able to use them to get back home following a treacherous journey through Oz.

3. Turkish Delight

From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis (£12.99, Harper Collins) Edmund is the most easily tempted of all the Pevensie children, and when Narnia’s White Witch sees his weakness, she offers him endless enchanted Turkish Delight and puts him under her spell. It’s rich and addictive, and makes him feel sick, but not before the Witch has managed to get all manner of information out of the boy, endangering both his siblings and Tumnus the faun.

4. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

From Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming (£5.19, Pan Macmillan) When the inventor Caractacus Potts renovates a four-seat touring car to drive his children around in, the last thing he expects is for it to have a mind of its own. But soon, Chitty shows his wings and takes the family on all sorts of unexpected journeys. Most excitingly, it’s a crime-stopper; without the marvelous motor, the Potts clan would have been caught up in a lot more scrapes.

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