Like Joan Aiken's last, less mature collection, A Necklace of Raindrops (1969, p. 631, J-253), these stories have some intriguing elements but they tend to lose focus or stop short at the end. The book is something of a magical mystery tour as some supernatural intervention is in every plot: metamorphoses (princess to parrot, girl to pig), weathermongering, odd interactions between man and beast, wishes realized and prophecies fulfilled. "The River Boy," the best of the fourteen (and which, incidentally, has magic only peripherally), is a hair-raising adventure: an outcast youngster, trying to detour a herd of bulls away from his retreat, manipulates the lead bull and then a hungry puma as well. Another deals with the mishaps of a girl whose birthday wishes from an absent aunt are variously disarming (a new friend every day, flowers wherever she goes). In "A Pinch of Weather" some gamblers want the local weather witch to provide a little rain for a sloppy-track horse and in another a lobster and a horse go off for a day in the big city. Many of the incidents are zany and imaginative, others are almost silly, and although the supply of eccentrics is substantial, the resolutions to the stories are often disappointing.