Here at Bookish, we love a good magical item. Give us a Marauder’s Map any day of the week and we won’t complain about it. Bestselling author Roshani Chokshi is very much on the same page. Her new novel The Gilded Wolves takes readers on a treasure hunt in 19th-century Paris. Here, Chokshi dishes about her favorite magical objects in literature.
Psst: Head over to BookishFirst for an excerpt of The Gilded Wolves!
Some of my favorite things about fiction are, well, the things! Fiction contains a dazzling array of magical objects that beg to be real. Whether that’s something wonderfully convenient like Hermione’s bag in Harry Potter or something that just oozes material seduction like the Batmobile, I love how magical objects tickle my imagination, and fill my dreams with new wants. Below are some of my favorites
The Hand of Midas
One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean
I mean, c’mon, it turns stuff to gold! How great is that? I love objects that are alchemical and transformative in nature. They get to this sense of material lust. Gold is the, ha, gold standard of treasure. The brightness of it, like it’s a sun that can light up the dark of your world and the despair that drove you to hunting for something legendary. I love that. I love that it also spurred a delightfully terrible Aladdin sequel starring Aladdin’s slick dad (Whaddup, Cassim? I see you) who is definitely #1 on my “Disney Daddy” list. What, no one else keeps lists…?
The Death Note
Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba, illustrated by Takeshi Obata
There is something so delightfully sinister about this notebook and the way it acts as a vessel for vengeance and retribution. What I love about objects like the Death Note (for those who are not familiar, all one has to do is write a person’s name into this book and they will die) is that there is a temptation to do good (rid the world of monsters, why not!) but it ultimately fails. I love that it’s a literal manifestation of the saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Listen, I’m a magpie, and these jewel thingies are absurdly shiny. I don’t even think Tolkien ever clarified what the heck they even do, but literally every immortal out there is like: “WHO CARES, HELLO SHINY, COME TO ME.” Which, y’know, same. I also like the mythology behind them—the idea of something being filled with the light of forgotten stars, objects that have soaked in the primordial power of being there at the start of the universe. Objects like that make us want to feel significant in the grand scheme of the universe. When everything is falling apart around you, believing that there was a plan to all this is a huge comfort.
“Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti
Oh fairy fruit. I am repeatedly enchanted with the idea of fairy fruit, something beautiful and corrosive, something that makes us intoxicated with its perfection. There are some fruits I’ve tasted that feel like the echo of fairy fruit. Once, in New Hampshire, I ate an apple so delectable I would’ve condemned humanity for another bite. In December, I ate an heirloom pear. I saw it in the fridge (a fancy gift from a fancy so-and-so to my fancy parents) and it was wrapped in gold foil. I peeled it off, and I ate the pear. It was cold and tasted like silk and custard, and I ate it to the point I was chomping on the core. What I love about fairy fruit is that it’s the taste of the threshold to something greater beyond us, the access point to fairy world, the bite of eternal youth, like Iðunn’s golden apples.
Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory
Ah yes, the magical object that bestows legitimacy. What a beautiful thing: an object that grants someone the right to wield power. I love the idea of a sword (or any weapon) lying in wait for someone good and worthy to bring it out of the shadows of history. There are plenty of enchanted such items, like the Cup of Jamshid from Persian mythology, but Excalibur holds a special place in my heart for two main reasons: One, I was a medievalist in college and Arthurian tales and Breton lais consumed the better part of my waking hours. Two, the first (and last) short story contest I ever won was about a girl who was the reincarnation of Arthur’s sword and I thought myself immensely clever that her name was an anagram of Excalibur—Alice Burx. It’s a name I keep meaning to use, but I don’t know how. Maybe the idea will appear to me in a stone, and I’ll have to yank it out. Who knows.
Roshani Chokshi is the author of The Gilded Wolves, and the instant New York Times bestseller Aru Shah and the End of Time, the first book in a quartet for middle grade readers about the adventures of five Pandava sisters. Her acclaimed novels for young adults include The Star-Touched Queen and its companion, A Crown of Wishes. For more information, visit her website, www.RoshaniChokshi.com, or follow her on Twitter @Roshani_Chokshi and Instagram @roshanichokshi.