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Paperback choice;Children's books

THE MAGICIAN'S HOUSE QUARTET: The Steps up the Chimney. The Door in the Tree. The Tunnel Behind the Waterfall. The Bridge in the Clouds. By William Corlett. Red Fox. pound;3.99 each

This quartet is both a fast-moving saga and an absorbing, extended magical fantasy, ideal for older primary readers. It's a classic tale of the battle between good and evil, as powerful forces clash across the ages.

The books cover a year in the life of the Constant children (Mary, William and Alice) and the school holidays they spend with their Uncle Jack. His home, The Golden House, turns out to be a battleground between Stephen Tyler,an Elizabethan alchemist, and his evil assistant Matthew Morden. Their ancient strife is infecting the present.

Tyler struggles across the centuries to save the house and the surrounding countryside from the greed of Morden and his descendants, and the children unwittingly become moral agents of the good magician.

Corlett's children are plucky and embark on their escapades with gusto in a holiday home full of secret passageways.

The story, with its dark undertones and wonderful flights of fancy, is fantastical and complex. Personal relationships and environmental issues are drawn into the ancient struggle, giving the novels a strong contemporary feel.

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