Yesterday's Magic

Yesterday's Magic

4.7 4
by Pamela F. Service

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WHEN HEATHER MCKENNA is kidnapped by the sorceress Morgan LeFay, it is up to Heather’s friend Welly and the wizard Merlin (yes, that Merlin), to rescue her. Set 500 years in the future, following a nuclear devastation, the technological world has ground to a halt, but magic is beginning to take hold again. And the powerful icons of myth are starting to


WHEN HEATHER MCKENNA is kidnapped by the sorceress Morgan LeFay, it is up to Heather’s friend Welly and the wizard Merlin (yes, that Merlin), to rescue her. Set 500 years in the future, following a nuclear devastation, the technological world has ground to a halt, but magic is beginning to take hold again. And the powerful icons of myth are starting to fight over control of the world. From the Russian witch Baba Yaga, to the native American trickster god, Raven, the most ancient magical forces are beginning to awaken, and they have very different ideas about the future of the earth.
This riveting sequel to Tomorrow’s Magic continues Merlin and Arthur’s quest to reunite the world.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Amalia Selle
In this sequel to Tomorrow's Magic, England is slowly being united by the joint efforts of King Arthur and Queen Margaret. Morgan LeFay, with all her terrible beauty and dark magic, has seemingly been defeated. However, as England gathers to celebrate the royal wedding between Arthur and Margaret, Morgan schemes to kidnap Merlin's girlfriend, Heather, and exploit her newfound powers. Heather desires to be rescued by Merlin, yet fears Morgan's plans may go beyond mere revenge. Arthurian legend, complete with dragons and evil spells, collides with a futuristic vision of a world after nuclear war in this tale. With the failure of technology, the old magic of the earth comes awake, and the line between the real and the fantastic blurs. While aspects of this fantasy seem reminiscent of other works, this blend of legend and future-story gives it a unique flavor. Character development is lacking, but plot and pacing make up for this deficit. Reviewer: Amalia Selle
School Library Journal

Gr 5-9

This book follows Winter of Magic's Return (1985) and Tomorrow's Magic (1987, both S & S). In a post-nuclear-disaster world 500 years in the future, teens Heather, Welly, and Merlin (freed from enchantment and newly rejuvenated) are working with King Arthur (returned from the Otherworld of Avalon) to unite what remains of humankind in Britain. The story begins with Arthur's wedding to Queen Margaret of Scotland, after which Heather is kidnapped by Morgan Le Fay. Merlin sets off to save her along with Welly and their troll friend, all on the back of a somewhat reluctant dragon. With the emergence of Heather's ability to converse telepathically with select youngsters around the world, this novel explores the possibility that other pockets of humanity have survived besides those in Britain. This is a solid fantasy that will appeal to fans of Camelot stories, but it can also be enjoyed by readers who have little or no interest in Arthurian legend. Characters, particularly Merlin and Heather, are well developed, and the plot is well paced. A brief prologue establishes the setting and recounts major events in the first two books. While it's not necessary to have read the earlier works, readers may be interested in seeing the whole story arc and watching the characters and their relationships develop.-Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
New Magic Trilogy
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
File size:
417 KB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


Jaguars! the voice in Heather's head cried. I actually saw one yesterday! It was much scarier, much sleeker, than the carved ones on the old temples. Have you ever seen a real jaguar?

"No, I haven't," Heather said aloud.

Merlin turned from the ancient apparatus he was fiddling with. "You haven't what?"
Heather shook her head and felt the intruding voice slip away. "Nothing. I guess I was thinking out loud."

Standing up and brushing off his wool trousers, Merlin walked toward her. "You looked like you were a million miles away."

She nodded, pushing down the urge to tell him all about the voices, crazy as that would sound. "Yes, sort of."

Gently he kissed her on the cheek. "As long as you never go that far away without me."

She smiled teasingly up at him. "As if I'd ever want to." She knew she'd talk to him about the voices soon, but she hadn't thought it all through yet. For once, she didn't want to just saddle him with more problems. She wanted to offer some answers as well.

Changing the subject, she said, "So, have you figured out how that thing worked yet?"

Laughing, Merlin returned to the rusted metal device. "When this was a city park, I think people just turned this knob and clean drinking water shot out."

He gave the knob a sharp wrench. The pipe shrieked with the wail of a dying banshee. Then, with a single spurt of rusty water, it shuddered into silence. "Well, it was worth a try," Merlin sighed, letting go of the handle. "Imagine what this world would have been like before the Devastation--water pumped into every home and even to public drinking fountains in their parks. Civilization did do some great things before it blew itself apart."

Heather unhooked the leather water bottle from her belt and handed it to him. He took a swig, dribbling water down his chin through the sparse dark strands of a beginning beard.

"Think your beard will grow faster if you water it?" Heather laughed.

The boy shook his head. "It's like each whisker is thinking carefully about whether it really wants to do the beard thing. This reluctant beard drove me crazy the first time I was a teenager, and now it's doing it again."

Retrieving the bottle, Heather took a sip of her own as they continued walking. Now that York was filling up with guests for the royal wedding, they both liked to escape the crowded old city whenever they could. From behind the usual high pall of dust stirred by ancient bombs, the June sun shed a faint warmth. Snow lingered in shadowed spots, and a few soft twitterings floated in the air.

"Things are improving," Merlin said. "At least more birds are coming back into the world, though they seem about as reluctant as my beard. I wonder if. . ."

A child's scream rose from behind a tumbled, vine- entangled wall. "Eek, a horrible mutie dog! Yuck, dog spit! Get him off me!"

"Rus," Heather and Merlin said together. Quickly they both clambered over the wall. On the other side were two girls. The younger was pinned down by a shaggy black and white dog, its two tails wagging, its two heads nodding as both tongues licked the girl's face. The other girl was timidly trying to tug the dog off.

"Rus," Heather commanded, "leave her alone! Maybe she doesn't want to be friends."

With a double whine, the dog jumped away and bounded over to Heather. Thumping paws on her shoulders, its two tongues licking her face.

"Down, Rus," Heather gasped. Then she spoke to the two girls, who were staring at them with wide eyes. "See, he really is friendly. Too friendly sometimes. You must smell like a person who loves animals."

"She does," the older girl said, helping the other up and dusting her off. "That's why we're out here where we shouldn't be, looking for Shadow. She's a feral cat Mia made a pet of, but now she's run off."

"I'm afraid fell dogs or muties might have eaten her," Mia said, looking at Rus warily.

Heather shook her head. "Is Shadow a fat gray cat with black swirly stripes?"

Mia's face lit up. "You've seen her?"

"Sort of," Heather said vaguely. "I think she's nearby. Let's look."

Merlin watched as Heather began walking west, over the hillside, her thin blond braids swinging back and forth. The two younger girls followed like baby chicks. Holding Rus firmly by one of his two collars, Merlin followed as well.

After a few minutes, Heather suddenly stood still and closed her eyes. Then, opening them, she veered right and knelt beside a ridge of tumbled bricks. Hesitantly she peered over the top.

"Shadow's down there," she said, sitting back up, "in a little nest she's made for herself. If you look--very quietly--you'll see what she's been busy with the last few days."

Little Mia quickly knelt and peered over. "Kittens. Shadow has kittens!" Sitting up, she looked at her sister. "Nedra, let's take them all home."

Heather shook her head. "They're still too young to move. Let Shadow decide when it's time."
Nedra frowned. "But suppose she decides to go back to the wild. Shadow was a feral kitten herself once."

Heather nodded. "I'll talk to her about it. Tell her you two need her and her family." Lying full length on the ground, Heather inched her head over the bricks. She stayed that way for long silent minutes. Then she stood up, brushing dirt from her wool trousers and tunic.

"There. She says she still likes you, and she'll bring her kittens home when they're old enough."

"You talk to cats!" Mia breathed excitedly.

Merlin spoke up from his seat on a nearby pile of bricks. "Heather is very good with animals. Trust her."

"Heather?" Nedra questioned. Suddenly she smiled broadly. "Oh, I know! You're the sorceress King Arthur brought with him when he came to York." Then she clapped a hand to her face and looked at the boy. "And you must be her boyfriend, Arthur's old wizard, Merlin."

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Pamela Service grew up in Berkeley, California, and spent three years in England studying archaeology. She, her husband, Bob, and their daughter, Alex, lived for years in Bloomington, Indiana, where she worked as a museum curator, served on the City Council, and wrote. Now back in California, she has published over 20 children’s books, works as a museum director in Eureka, acts in community theater, and is still writing.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Yesterday's Magic 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story was simply fantastic for those who enjoy fantasy. It brings together old and new fantasy, creating a world that will keep you yearning for more. A definite must read in the fantasy genre. One recommendation: Read Tomorrow's Magic and Winter of Magic's Return, as well.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
The sequel to TOMORROW'S MAGIC packs a definite punch. Hundreds of years into Earth's future, humanity has lost control of its nuclear weapons and destroyed much of the planet, plunging the world into another ice age and killing off most of the human population. Years later, civilization is starting to rebuild in those few pockets of human life that remain, but this civilization looks very different from the one that preceded it. For one thing, the high levels of radiation have mutated numerous plants, creatures, and even humans, and those who have escaped extreme mutations have still been changed by their surroundings. But the other, more significant development is the resurgence of magical power into the world and the appearance of new forms of magic.

In the previous novel, British schoolchildren Heather and Welly opened up a portal to the Otherworld known as Avalon and brought back King Arthur with the intent of reuniting Britain. They also discover Merlin, who as a result of a spell he has used to cheat time is now a young boy again, the same age as Heather and Welly. Unfortunately, the return of magic into the world also heralds the return of Morgan Le Fay, evil sorceress bent on uniting the world to much darker purposes.

The conflict in YESTERDAY'S MAGIC begins when Morgan, thought to have been defeated, rigs an elaborate trap to kidnap Heather in order to drain her of her magical powers. Merlin, who is in love with Heather, runs to her rescue despite the caution of his friends that he may be Morgan's real target. The resulting chase leads Merlin around the world, where he encounters other civilizations that have survived the Devastation and are beginning to rebuild, all the while attempting to save Heather and protect these fledgling civilizations from Morgan's evil.

I hadn't read the previous novel in the series before picking this one up, but the richness of backstory present within the book had me itching for a copy of its predecessor within chapters. The author does a good job of presenting characters and their relationships with a sense of depth, giving not just an idea of who they are now, but who they were in the previous book and how their relationships have developed over the course of time. I also enjoyed her small details about the setting that helped me get a sense for the time--Heather's two-headed, two-tailed "mutie" dog comes to mind, as does a schoolchild's plastic lunchbox that is revered as treasure because plastic can no longer be manufactured and so much of it was destroyed during the Devastation. Service's blend of a new world and old magic makes for a compelling read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago