The twelve stories in the collection are:
- "The Cat-hood of Maurice" — a boy abuses the family cat, and learns to see things from the feline point of view.
- "The Mixed Mine" — two boys find a magic spyglass, and use it to make their fortunes.
- "Accidental Magic" — Quentin falls asleep on the altarstone at Stonehenge, and wakes in Atlantis.
- "The Princess and the Hedge-pig" — King Ozymandias and Queen Eliza plan a secret christening for their Princess Ozyliza, to avoid a wicked fairy's curse. Things go awry.
- "Septimus Septimusson" — he is the seventh son of a seventh son, who can see fairies and hear the beasts speak; and he must seek his fortune.
- "The White Cat" — a boy finds a china ornament in the attic; it proves to be a magic talisman.
- "Belinda and Bellamant" — they are a princess and prince suffering curses; a talking bat helps resolve their problems.
- "Justnowland" — Elsie visits a magic land of giant crows, and a dragon.
- "The Related Muff" — a sensitive boy, dismissed as a "muff" by his cousins, proves himself a hero in a crisis.
- "The Aunt and Amabel" — a girl enters a magic world through a wardrobe.
- "Kenneth and the Carp" — unjustly accused, a boy transforms into a fish and redeems his honor.
- "The Magician's Heart" — an evil magician distributes curses at royal christenings. Complications ensue.
The story "The Aunt and Amabel" has received attention as a precursor of C. S. Lewis's first Narnia novel, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."Accidental Magic" has been seen as exerting an influence on J. R. R. Tolkien.Conversely, Nesbit's "Justnowland" displays the influence of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
Elisabeth Beresford's 1964 book Awkward Magic was published in the United States under the title The Magic World. Beresford has been identified as an imitator of Nesbit.
Nesbit's little girls tend to get in trouble over their efforts at gardening. Elsie in "Justnowland" uproots turnip plants she mistakes for weeds; Amabel cuts chrysanthemum blossoms from a greenhouse and tries to plant them in a flower bed. Stories in the collection feature talking animals and human/animal transformation, with implications regarding animal welfare and avoidance of mistreatment. The opening story is the most explicit in its message against cruelty to animals.