The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The story is a modern fairy tale rooted in childhood imagination. A game of make-believe becomes earnest when four children discover a ring with magical powers. Their attempts to use the ring create complications in their everyday lives, some humorous, some horrific.

Gerald, Jimmy, and Kathleen, left at school during the holidays, find a hidden entrance to the gardens of Yalding Manor, which they pretend is an enchanted castle. They discover a sleeping princess (Mabel, the housekeeper’s niece) who plays along with their game, showing them a secret treasure room containing a ring that she claims makes the wearer invisible. When she slips it on, she discovers that her claim has come true and that she has become invisible.

Invisibility confers both benefits and disadvantages. The children must cover for the absence of Mabel (and later Gerald) until the magic wears off; on the other hand, they use invisibility to raise money with a conjuring show and later to help capture some burglars. The children next discover that the ring will grant the wearers wishes; this immediately creates a problem when they perform a play before an audience of artificial people they have fashioned from household odds and ends. When Mabel wishes the painted audience alive, the animated creatures (Ugly-Wuglies) terrify their creators.

With the assistance of Yalding Manors new bailiff, the children succeed in confining the creatures to a cave in the garden,...

(The entire section is 462 words.)