Octagon Magic

~ 2nd Novel in the Magic Series by Andre Norton


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the dustjacket ~

Who lived in the mysterious-looking, eight-sided Victorian house Lorrie passed each day? Was it a witch as some people said? Strange and frightening as the old house looked, still it seemed to shy Lorrie a good place in which to hide away from the teasing and unfriendliness of the children in her new school.
Inside she found some highly unusual occupants, and in one of the odd-shaped rooms she came upon an exact miniature of the large house, completely furnished. Within the smaller "octagon house" was a strange and fascinating secret that took Lorrie back in space and time to make some discoveries about the history of the house - and to gain some insights, too, about herself that would help her face and solve her own problems. A superb blend of fantasy and realism with warmly drawn characterizations, this is Andre Norton at her best.


Write-up from the back of the paperback edition ~

A Hidden Mystery
Did a witch live in the eight-sided house? Was it haunted? There were lots of scary stories about the strange house – but none could match the secret Lorrie uncovered. One day, she climbed the high iron gate and escaped into the garden to save a kitten from some cruel boys – and met the mysterious lady of the house. She let Lorrie explore all the odd-shaped rooms. In one of them was a rocking horse and a large, eight-sided dollhouse – and exact miniature of the big house. The dollhouse was beautifully furnished and seemed so ready – as if someone lived there! It drew Lorrie back into an enchanted past and plunged her into exciting adventures which she had to face with courage and daring!


Write-up from the back of the Tradepaper edition ~

When her grandmother gets sick, eleven year old Lorrie Mallard is sent to live with her aunt in the U.S. Things were different back home in Canada, and Lorrie is homesick ~ especially when boys like Jimmy Pervis and Stan Wormiski tease her. One day, Lorrie finds herself at the door of the Octagon House, where she is welcomed by the elderly Miss Ashemeade and her servant, Hallie. Could the kindly Miss Ashmeade truly be a witch, like everyone says? Lorrie doesn't know, but with the help of an old rocking horse and a dollhouse she finds in a mysterious eight-sided room, she begins to unlock the secrets of Octagon House.


Write-ups from fans ~

Lorrie Mallard's grandmother has had to go away to have an operation, leaving Lorrie to the care of her Aunt Margaret--which means Lorrie has to leave their comfortable place in Canada and come to the U.S.  Coming in after the school year has already started means the other girls have already formed their cliques; her previous school was not co-educational and she is uncomfortable with boys, who tease her all the time.  One day on her way home from school--followed by a group of boys hollering derogatory things at her, she tries to use a short cut past "the witch's house".  The boys quit following her, but try to catch a kitten they say is the "witch's" kitten which she rescues by sheltering it long enough to climb over the fence into the "witch's yard."  Hallie, the colored maid of Miss Ashemeade, sees her in the yard and thanks her for rescuing the kitten Sabina, and lets Lorrie out the back gate. Miss Ashemeade takes a continuing interest in her, teaching her needlework, while the kitten occasionally entices her into exploring the "toy room" which features a doll house exact duplicate of the main house, and a rocking horse that carries her into trips back in time to participate in the lives of others living in the house: Phineas and Pheobe, orphaned children in danger of being sent to the "poor farm" to  wear out their lives as virtual slaves; Chole, a runaway slave who ran because they were going to sell her away from her handicapped child Nackie; and Charles Dupree an escaped p.o.w Southern soldier.  But Octagon House is in the path of a new highway, and there is nothing that can be done to stop construction.  One day when Lorrie comes to visit, she discovers Hallie and Miss Ashmeade gone.  Shortly thereafter, a lawyer comes to see Lorrie and tells her that Miss Ashmeade had willed the contents of the "toy room" to her, to be housed in a museum until Lorrie is ready to claim it.  Lorrie takes one last look in the drawers of the doll house's pedestal and discovers Hallie and Miss Ashmeade in doll form. ~ SL


Small Town, USA. Canadian teenager raised by her grandmother when parents die in a plane crash. Grandmother has to go away to recover from major surgery and Lorrie Mallard has to move in with her aunt in the US. Transferred in the middle of a school year, she finds it hard to make friends and is basically an outcast.
Add in a mysterious Octagon-shaped house purportedly inhabited by a witch. Lorrie is invited into the house by the mysterious Miss Ashemeade. The elderly lady seemed to know more than is possible, but Lorrie ignores this and she becomes friends with Miss A. and her cook, Hallie. Miss A. lets Lorrie explore the house and she finds the TOY Room with a very large Rocking horse and a huge Doll House that is a perfect duplicate if the house she is in. She mounts the Rocking Horse and is transported back in time to Octagon House in the 1860's and has an adventure and learns life lessons. Over the next several months, she has a few more time trips to further her growth.
Then comes Dreadful News--the Octagon House will be razed to build a bypass (shades of Arthur Dent).
Calamity! Miss Ashemeade and Hallie - Where are they gonna go; what they gonna do? Franky, my dear, Lorrie does give a Damn. Read it to find out what she does. ~ PG


KIRKUS REVIEW ~ Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1967
Another exercise in the transubstantiation of time, and there's as much moral as magic to it. Orphan Lorrie Mallard has lost her comfortable grandmother (temporarily) and her familiar Canadian school; she resents the boys who tease her and the neighbor who tries to help her "adjust" to a typical American town. Her solace is Octagon House, inhabited by elderly Miss Ashemeade and her Negro housekeeper, Hallie, both, like the house, relics of an earlier, more finespun time. Lorrie learns to do handwork, comes to love the house; and she learns something of its troubled history by entering the doll's house replica of it and helping the then young Miss Ashemeade rescue two poor orphans, a runaway Negro slave and a Confederate deserter. But now progress--in the form of a thruway--threatens. Lorrie is aghast, Miss Ashemeade is acquiescent (and hortatory)--"that is the normal course of life...one cannot say no...when you first came here you thought you could not find anything good in a new way of life..." etc., etc. The fantasy flickers briefly but the situation (genteel goodness with an iron spine) is all-too-familiar, the intent all-too-obvious, and Lorrie (with her terror of the boys, her hesitation at crossing a street) is all-too-young for her purported years.


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1967 Kirkus Reviews, May 01
1967 by Mary Louise Birmingham in Commonweal, November
2019 by Judith Tarr at TOR.com, Feb. 11


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

For my mother, whose beloved stories of a late Victorian childhood made those years very real for me. And for Viola, Ernestine, and Becky who made suggestions.


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1967) Published by World, HC, LCCN 67013822, $3.95, 189pg ~ cover and illustrations by Mac Conner {Orange Cloth Boards, code “1 2 3 4 5 71 70 69 68 67” on Page 192}
  • (1968) Published by Hamish, HC, 0-241-01573-1, £ 16s (192p), 160pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Faith Jaques, illustrations by Robin Jacques? {Green Paper Boards, ISBN on Rear Flap}
  • (1978) Published by Pocket (Archway), PB, 0-671-29903-4, $1.50, 216pg ~ 2nd printing 1980 56074-3, $1.75, 217pg ~ cover by Milo, illustrations by Mac Conner ~ front cover and copyright page states illustrations by Mac Conner but inside title page states illustrated by Robin Jacques – all illustrations signed Conner – later editions omit Robin Jacques
  • (2005) Published by Starscape, TP, 0-765-35298-2, $5.99, 192pg ~ cover by Tristan Elwell
  • Magic Books, The (1988) Published by Signet, PB, 0-451-15232-8, $3.95, 383pg ~ cover by unknown ~ Omnibus containing Steel Magic (1965), Octagon Magic (1967) & Fur Magic (1968)
  • (2012) Published by Premier Digital Publishing, eISBN 978-1-937957-47-6, DM, $3.99, 139pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge
  • (2014) Published by Open Road Media, eISBN 978-1-497656-54-3, DM, $3.99, 192pg ~ cover by Connie Gabbart


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1994) Combined with "Star Ka'at", "Star Ka'at World" "Star Ka'ats and the Plant People" all translation by Dmitry Arseniev, and "Seven Spells to Sunday" translation by T. Korobkova ~ Published in Moscow, by Sigma Press and Zelenograd, by Zelenogradskaya Books, 5-863-14031-3, HC, 416pg ~ "Octagon Magic" translation by M. Shamray ~ cover by D. Avvakumov ~ Russian title Семь чудес к воскресенью [Seven Spells to Sunday]
  • (2003) Combined with "Steel Magic", "Fur Magic" and "Dragon Magic" ~ Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-01931-6, HC, 480pg ~ translation by Dmitry Arseniev and Oleg Kolesnikov ~ Russian title Магия стали [Steel Magic]
  • (2013) Combined with “Steel Magic”, “Fur Magic”, “Dragon Magic”, “Lavender-Green Magic” & “Red Hart Magic”, Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699660315, HC, 864pgs ~ “Steel Magic” & “Octagon Magic” translation by O. Kolesnikova, “Fur Magic”, “Dragon Magic”, “Lavender-Green Magic” & “Red Hart Magic” translation by D. Arseniev ~ cover art by A. Dubovik ~ series: All Norton ~ Russian title Магия [Magic]
  • (2015) Combined with “Steel Magic”, Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699******, PB, 352pgs ~ translation by O. Kolesnikova ~ cover art by Ellersile ~ series: Silver Fiction Collection ~ Russian title Магия стали [Steel Magic]


View the Original contract

View the original Copyright app.

View the 1978 Pocket contract


Interior Illustrations: