Tuesday, February 1, 2011
House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
This is a sequel to Howl's Moving Castle. Like other of Jone's series, the books in this series are not parts of one big story, but instead very different stories that happen to occur in the same world. Though Howl shows up in this story someone could read House of Many Ways having never read Howl's Moving Castle, and it would work just fine.
In this story a bookish girl is asked by her great aunt to house-sit the home of a wizard. The wizard, who is the girl's great uncle by marriage, is ill and has to go away for treatment. The girl, Charmain, has a very proper mother, so she has never been allowed to learn much about magic, but as she tries to take care of the magical house, she becomes aware that she has a particular talent for magic. While living at the house she meets the wizard's young apprentice who tends to get spells wrong. She also gets a chance to work at the palace library with the king. At the palace she finds out that the King and his daughter are desperately searching for something and she begins to wonder if the wizard's house holds the key to the mystery. Jones seems to like stories where characters just suddenly discover they have magical ability. This happens in several of her Crestomancy books, and also in the first one in this series. Jones' magic systems are unique and quirky. The characters are spunky with a lot of ingenuity. They are fun, lighthearted fantasies with not a lot of drama, but a lot of personality. (423 p)