Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

25 Jul

Enchanted Glass, like all of Diana Wynne Jones’ novels, concerns the collision between the ordinary and the extraordinary, life and death. In fact, the novel opens with a death—that of Jocelyn Brandon, a wizard, who leaves his home and field-of-care (set in the fictional town of Mel Tump) to his grandson, Andrew Hope. Andrew, a history professor, finds himself in the care of two tyrants—his housekeeper, Mrs. Stock, and the gardener, Mr. Stock (the two are not related). Andrew happily goes about setting up his new home, while irking his employees. He is so single-minded about his quest to write a book about history—a new view of history—that he does not attend to his property’s magical nature or the fact that someone has been leeching his magic. As Mr. and Mrs. Stock plot to force Andrew to heed his magical duty, Aidan Cain, a twelve-year-old orphan, arrives at Andrew’s doorstep on the run from mysterious (and dangerous) stalkers. Aidan’s grandmother has just died and had once instructed him to see Jocelyn should anything happen to her. With Aidan’s arrival, Andrew begins to feel stirrings in his memory of the many lessons his grandfather gave him—lessons that will prove useful in defeating the dark powers chasing Aidan and leeching off his lands.

This was a breezy read completed over a very sweaty day. Each of the characters is instantly likeable—even the grumpy housekeeper and gardener. As with her other works, Jones deftly blends the magical and the ordinary—I personally love the idea of the wallet that is always full. Magic, as it turns out, is as integral to the universe’s fabric, as gravity. The plot here is not as complex as that of Howl’s Moving Castle or The Dalemark Quartet, but there is enough of an air of mystery to keep you turning the pages and wondering what will happen next. The ending is open-ended enough to suggest there may be future books, although I hope those are as tightly-plotted as the Chrestomanci books (I found myself wondering if he would show up). This isn’t a novel for young children—there is enough talk of death and some suggestions of inappropriate behavior to put Enchanted Glass firmly in the young adult category, although nothing overtly terrifying happens.


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