I have been reading Diana Wynne Jones’ books since I was ten years old, and I have never found one to be disappointing. Her latest, House of Many Ways, is a companion to two of my favorites: Howl’s Moving Castle, and Castle in the Air. It’s also definitely my favorite of all of her books that have come out in the last several years.
The story concerns Charmain Baker, a young girl sent by her Great Aunt Semphronia to take care of her Great-Great Uncle William’s house, while he is away being treated for a great illness. Not only is Great-Great Uncle William a wizard, but his house–and possibly his dog–are magical as well. Charmain’s mother has raised her to be perfectly “respectable;” thus, she has no experience with magic whatsoever, and even less experience taking care of a house.
The story of Charmain’s housesitting might have turned out to be full of nothing but cooking and cleaning–quite boring, in Charmain’s view, when one could be reading a book instead–except for two things. 1. Charmain sends a letter to the King of High Norland, offering to help out in his library. And 2. Peter, the Witch of Montalbino’s son, appears on Great-Great Uncle William’s doorstep, demanding to be his apprentice.
In less than a week, Charmain’s life suddenly includes fire demons, flying castles, magical tea trolleys, doorways that go back in time, traitorous kobolds, terrifying purple lubbocks, and the world’s most annoyingly beautiful 4-year-old boy named Twinkle.
As usual, Jones’ writing is delightful, and, as I mentioned previously, so compelling that one is swept along into the story with no desire to put the book down. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I can only hope that Jones will write many (many) more books.
Posted by: Sarah