When I planned a reread of the Narnia books, this isn’t one of the ones I was especially looking forward to. It’s so blatantly allegorical: it’s basically Genesis, Adam and Eve, etc. It’s preachy too, more so than my preferred Narnia books. As a myth on its own merit, I think it was Tolkien who complained about the mishmash of influences in Narnia, and he wasn’t wrong. It’s not so noticeable in The Magician’s Nephew, but it’s still a little weird. I think ultimately, I come down on the side of liking it; it’s a mess, but it’s a joyful one.
Diggory and Polly aren’t the most likeable characters, but Jadis makes an excellent villainess — and even Uncle Andrew’s weakness and vanity is well-drawn. The Pevensies are more engaging as heroes, but the villains here might just be the highlight.
Despite the allegory, there’s still something warm and engaging about Lewis’ writing. That’s the only reason this isn’t slipping down to two stars, I think.