One thing’s for sure about “Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders” by Mike Resnick; the title lets you know right away that it’s a magic shop story. And if you like sentimental magic shop stories, this one delivers.
Nate Silver and Maury Gold discover the Emporium as boys and become fast friends, all the way to old age. As old men, they decide to revisit it. There is, of course, real magic in the shop. Old and sick, they are far more tempted by the magic than they were as boys. Each makes his own choice and each is pretty happy about it.
It’s all very nice. Nate and Maury kid each other and banter every step of the way. The magic is charming. The whole thing is as sweet as penny candy. Too sweet for me. When it comes to magic shop stories, I prefer “Impossible Dreams,” by Tim Pratt.