Magic is about transformation.
Bodies turn from human to werewolves and back again. Girls become talented witches when moments before they were “just girls.” We wake up to new undiscovered countries or worlds existing an eyelash apart from our own: and during that first blink we transform. We become something else, both the transformed subject and those who witness it.
Transformation is the archetype that overlays everything: like a deck of tarot cards it follows, from one step to the next, each moment of reality as it shifts and alters. The most powerful rhythms of life, even in this ultramodern culture, are captured through this archetype.
It follows the seasons, our birth and life and death cycles, and most especially, that powerful time when we morph from a child to an adult.
And I suspect that this is the reason that fantasy, overlaid with transformational magic, is so well-suited to Young Adult (YA) fiction: what could be a neater, more compelling map to that sublime and drawn out moment when a child hovers on the cusp of adulthood than magic? What could, other than magic, define more clearly than the sublime powers of “grown up”?