"Maddigan's Quest" is a post-apocalyptic story by Margaret Mahy, a leading New Zealand's childrens' writer. "Maddigan's Quest" (also known as "Maddigan's Fantasia") centres on the Fantasia, a circus group who tour what remains of civilisation after some indistinct disaster. The Fantasia get involved with a mysterious pair of boys and their baby sister who have time travelled from the future. Key to the future is a secret quest the Fantasia are on for their home city Solis. But also from the future have come the henchmen of an evil warped dictator.
"Maddigan's Quest" functions on a number of levels. It is a childrens' adventure story, episodic as the Fantasia go from place to place and encounter danger and challenges. It is also a coming of age story based on the protagonist Garland who has to come to terms with what has happened. The story is told mainly from her perspective. The time travel element is not well developed, there are aspects of what does it mean to tinker with time, what is allowable, can one actually change anything.
Central to "Maddigan's Quest" is a diary that Garland keeps. This device adds depth to the narrative, makes the story feel more two-dimensional. The time travellers bring a copy of Garland's diary (old in its years,) but their copy changes as they affect the past. This book is also about books in another way - the world of "Maddigan's Quest" is disjointed as the maps are wearing out. Libraries are precious treasure houses, safe passages for the past to reach the future.
Quite enjoyable, after reading this I started my own quest for the DVD of the TV series and other books by Margaret Mahy.