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Jonesing for a Good Read: What Makes Diana Wynne Jones Magical

Howl's Moving Castle

Howl’s Castle – From the Miyazaki film

Diana Wynne Jones is one of the authors I foist on everyone who asks for a fantasy reading recommendation. Because I didn’t discover her work until I was well into my twenties (thanks to the Miyazaki film version of HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE), I try to make up for lost time and spread the word of an author whose works deserve to be widely read.

My relationship with HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE is a bit backwards. Usually, I seek out the book before watching the movie, but I didn’t in this case. Howl, a tortured wizard with a penchant for snazzy dressing and a weakness for hair dye, was the perfect animated hero. Sophie was also a nuanced heroine with a tinge of sadness so common in Miyazaki films, and Calcifer just cracked me up. I ended up loving the film and I knew I had to read the book.

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Posted by on March 21, 2013 in Author: Diana Wynne Jones, Fantasy, Tribute

 

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Remembering Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones died on March 26, 2011. She was only 76. Since then I’ve been mentally composing and uncomposing various tributes to her, one of my favorite novelists. What could I write that would be equal to the person who inspired me to pursue writing?

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Wee-Views: The Ring of Solomon and The Merlin Conspiracy

The to-read pile continues to grow (and I have yet to pick up this book club’s selection, A Discovery of Witches, probably because some of the reviews make me feel slightly frightened) and I have an ever growing pile of books that need to be reviewed. So I make some headway and so I feel at least slightly accomplished, I’m writing Wee-Views of some of these books. I’m going to skip all the plot summaries (you can read those on Amazon.com or any other online book site) and cut right to my opinions. I’ll also rate these on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being exceptionally good). Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones

Year of the Griffin is the sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm, and takes place 8 years after Mr. Chesney’s tours have ended. Wizard Derk’s youngest daughter, Elda, is now at the Wizard’s University and finding her talons full of magical mayhem. The university itself is in dire financial straits. Now that the tours have stopped, along with Mr. Chesney’s payments, the university has considerably less money than it is used to, and turns to its students’ parents for aid. Unfortunately, these aren’t typical students with proud parents, and a number are on the run from their families. When the letters reach their homes, the students find themselves battling trained assassins and pirates, to say nothing of ineffable grading curves, incompetent professors, inedible refectory food, heartbreak, and renegade griffins. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones is one of my very favorite authors, so this review of Dark Lord of Derkholm (which now officially one of my favorite DWJ books) will be somewhat biased (although I haven’t loved everything I’ve read by her, but I’ve never hated anything either). What I love best about her work is her uncanny ability to transport her readers to a different, fully-realized world. Not only does she take you there, but you want to curl up and take up residence—DWJ’s stories are never truly over. Even after you turn the page, you suspect that there is much more to the story, and you want to linger there long after she’s concluded her tale. To me, that’s what separates good stories from great ones. She also populates her stories with great characters—flawed, but memorable and sympathetic. There’s no sense in having a wonderfully detailed world, if the reader hates everyone that lives there. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

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. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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