Maze Running and other Magical Missions is the fourth and final installment of Lari Don’s children’s fantasy series, which began with the award-winning First Aid for Fairies and Other Fabled Beasts. The novel starts bravely as Helen’s centaur friend, Yann, is stabbed through the heart. This magical wound is beyond Helen’s powers of healing. With the help of her fabled friends (a phoenix, a wolf girl, a tattooed man, a couple of faeries and some dragons), she must find the enchanted token that will heal Yann and defeat the fearsome Master of the Maze once and for all.
Helen’s character is appealing for a number of reasons. She balances a rational mind – perfect for cool-minded healing and solving riddles – with a passionate nature, evident in her love of music and fierce loyalty to her friends. As the series continues, it becomes increasingly difficult for Helen to juggle her secret life of healing fabled creatures with her everyday life of school and violin practice.
Like the other books, Maze Running is firmly entrenched in the Scottish landscape. This has the effect of grounding the magical events and fabled beasts in the real world and making them easier to imagine. The plotting is excellent throughout, giving readers the opportunity to work with Helen to complete her quests.
At times the writing style seems are a little bare – the emphasis here is definitely on plot propulsion rather than character development – but I can’t imagine any of her readers will have any complaints.