Home All 2017 Popular Book Lists

Jones Diana Wynne (2017 Most Popular Book Lists)

1. Enchanted Glass
2. Fire and Hemlock
3. Charmed Life
4. Archer's Goon
5. The Lives of Christopher Chant
6. Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories
7. Year of the Griffin
8. A Sudden Wild Magic (GollanczF.)
9. Spellbound: Fantasy Stories
10. Wild Robert
11. The Game (Firebird)
12. Witch Week (Chrestomanci Books)
13. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci,
14. House of Many Ways
15. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci,
16. Witch's Business
17. Howl's Moving Castle
18. The Spellcoats (Dalemark Quartet)
19. The Merlin Conspiracy
20. Hexwood

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1. Enchanted Glass
by Diana Wynne Jones
Hardcover: 304 Pages (2010-04-01)
list price: US$16.99 -- used & new: US$9.76
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0061866849
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review


Aidan Cain has had the worst week of his life. His gran died, he was sent to a foster home, and now malicious beings are stalking him. There is one person Gran told Aidan to go to if he ever got into trouble—a powerful sorcerer who lives at Melstone House.

But when Aidan arrives on the doorstep, he finds that the sorcerer's grandson, Andrew, has inherited the house. The good news is that Aidan can tell immediately that Andrew's brimming with magic, too—and so is everyone else at Melstone. The bad news is that Andrew doesn't remember anything his grandfather taught him. Chaos is swiftly rising, and he has no idea how to control it. A sinister neighbor is stealing power from the land, magic is leaking between realms . . . and it's only a matter of time before the Stalkers find Aidan.

If Aidan and Andrew can harness their own magics, they may be able to help each other. But can they do it before the entire countryside comes apart at the seams?

... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
Enchanted Glass will disappoint Howl's Moving Castle fans. I found many of the characters' annoyingly repetitious actions and dialog tiresome and not humorous (especially the stereotypical housekeeper and groundsman). For me, Enchanted Glass just ended with an unsatisfactory feeling. There was so much that was interesting here, that it is a shame that it went so flat. Diana Wynne Jones is a fine writer -- Enchanted Glass just doesn't seem like her best effort.

SPOILER: I agree with another reviewer that the many dead mothers, and the grandfather's sexual relationship with a young relative made for uncomfortable reading--no point to it in a children's book.

5-0 out of 5 stars She's always good
She always surprises and enchants. Don't read reviews; you want to savor all the surprises. But read more of her work.

4-0 out of 5 stars Enchanted Glass
Andrew Brandon Hope inherits his grandfather's house and land after his grandfather's death.Andrew had spent some of his childhood there - but while he knows his grandfather is a magician, he doesn't remember any of it from his childhood.All his memories became repressed as he grew up.Enter Aidan Cain, mysterious boy with an unknown father, a self-filling wallet and a name no one can pronounce.Aidan imposes on Andrew and his housekeeper, Mrs. Stock, and his gardener, Mr. Stock (who are in no way related), while Andrew and Stashe (Mr. Stock's niece) and Tarquin (her father) help keep Aidan safe from the Stalkers.

"Enchanted Glass" starts with a nearly - or stereotypically - absent-minded not-professor, Andrew Hope - who has an ambivalent nature to magic.Which may be why is his out of practice and doesn't use it.

This vague beginning turns 180 degrees around as the book progresses, immersing the reader with Andrew into an alternate world.While at first the story seems slow and without direction, once Diana Wynne Jones introduces the idea of counterparts, the story starts to fall together.The reader learns as Andrew learns (or rather remembers) the magic that his grandfather had taught him all those years ago.

The way Diana Wynne Jones slowly brings the reader to realize what she is referring to throughout her story is well done and fun.It makes the reader want to read to the end to see what the links are and how they are connected.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Dome of Many Colored Glass
Before Aidan Cain's granny died, she told him to visit a magician named Jocelyn Brandon if he needed help. Sinister stalkers start watching Aidan's foster home, so he takes her advice, setting off for Melstone House. But the magician has died. His grandson, Professor Andrew Hope, has moved in and is writing a book. Both Andrew and Aidan have magical abilities, but Andrew has forgotten everything his grandfather taught him. He vaguely remembers the colored glass panes in the kitchen door have some function, as do the colored panes in the roof of the shed. Aidan's power is still developing. Whenever he takes off his glasses, he can see magical powers that emanate from others. As Aidan and Andrew begin exploring Melstone House's "field-of-care," they make a disturbing discovery: a reclusive neighbor, Mr. Brown, is trying to steal and fence off some of the grounds. People with odd resemblances to each other start appearing. The stalkers show up again. Soon it becomes apparent that Mr. Brown has powers of his own and has sinister intentions toward Aidan.

While the book started slowly, Diana Wynne Jones has created another magical, whimsical world and an enjoyable read.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan

4-0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too
Professor Andrew Hope has inherited Melstone House, and it turns out to be more than he bargained for.The housekeeper and gardener don't get along, the paperwork is a mess, and a mysterious orphan boy, Aiden, turns up on his doorstep.

Things only get worse when Andrew discovers someone - or something - is trying to take over his property and get to Aiden. Andrew must find a way to keep his land and the boy safe or it could prove disastrous for everyone.

I had a difficult time getting into this book. The concept is good, but the constantly shifting points of view made it hard for me to bond with the main characters. Aiden seemed older and far more mature than a young boy should be, and Andrew seemed distant.

The minor characters were quirky and funny and helped keep me reading. After I got used to the changing points of view, it made reading easier. The more I read, the more things got exciting, so I'm glad I didn't give up.

Reviewed by:Joan Stradling ... Read more

2. Fire and Hemlock
by Diana Wynne Jones
Hardcover: 432 Pages (2002-05-01)
list price: US$16.95
Isbn: 0060298855
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review


A photograph called "Fire and Hemlock" that has been on the wall since her childhood. A story in a book of supernatural stories -- had Polly read it before under a different title? Polly, packing to return to college, is distracted by picture and story, clues from the past stirring memories. But why should she suddenly have memories that do not seem to correspond to the facts?

Fire and Hemlock is an intricate, romantic fantasy filled with sorcery and intrigue, magic and mystery, all background to a most unusual and thoroughly satisfying love story.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (60)

5-0 out of 5 stars A fantastic fantastic tale!
In an interesting episode of life-imitates-art, I felt that I had read this book when I was younger, but that it ended somewhat differently. I wonder if Diana Wynne Jones periodically publishes different editions of this book with different endings, just as a bit of a joke on her part!!!

Centered around 19-year old Polly's exploration of two sets of memories and the mysterious house up the road, DWJ crafts a masterful story combining a mix of real-world and the magical world of Faerie. Geared towards her target young-adult demo, this book is also of interest to us old codgers who are young at heart. DWJ's writing and character development are top notch here, and the story thoroughly absorbing. Among her 5-star books, I'd put a few first above this one, but it was still a great read.

2-0 out of 5 stars More Hemlock, Please.
The premise of this book is quite interesting, but it takes two hundred pages for the story to actually start moving. And then it goes...and goes...and fizzles out in a moment of muddy prose at the end.

My two contentions with this book are: you shouldn't need to be familiar with the story of Tam Lin to "get" this story, and you shouldn't need an advanced degree to parse out a young adult novel.

Polly makes no emotional investment in anyone, save Tom Lynn. And a large chunk of the story revolves around Polly's family and friends (i.e., people who are *not* Tom Lynn), which means that you spend a lot of time reading about interactions with people that the protagonist doesn't care about, doesn't like, and doesn't want to be with.

It isn't like Catcher in the Rye, where the fact that the protagonist hates just about everybody is a delicious bit of the story. Polly simply doesn't care. And by the end of the story, I found it hard to care about her (or any of the other characters for that matter). Disappointing all around.

5-0 out of 5 stars Subtly Intricate; Stays With You For Days
The first time I read "Fire And Hemlock", I was 14, and needless to say most of the wonderful imagery and detail in this book went over my head, but I do remember loving the resolution and emotion at the end of the book.I picked it up again recently, and was once again in awe of the beautiful intricacy Diana Wynne Jones seems to create in her novels.Like her other young adult book "The Merlin Conspiracy," "Fire And Hemlock" intertwines old legends with fresh fantasy and modern time, bringing these well-known myths to life in a whole new way that intrigues fantasy lovers everywhere.

We meet Polly when she is 19, and packing to return to another year of college. She finds a book of fantasy stories that she has not read in some time, and those stories bring back a flood of memories that contradict another set of memories she seems to have in their place. The rest of the book explains what those "lost" memories consist of, and at the end we have the captivating conclusion of how Polly is able to recover her lost past in a way only Dianna Wynne Jones could conceive.I would highly recommend this book to any classic fantasy buff who wants a new spin on an old tale.

4-0 out of 5 stars mystery wrapped in enigma
I love Diana Wynne Jones' work. And this is one of my favorites of her books. I am not at all sure that it's a book for young adults, but I'm about to buy a copy for my granddaughter.As other reviews have told you, this is a modern retelling of Tam Lynn, but the details get twisted by a "fairy queen" with a mean sense of humor.
The protagonist, Polly, has had her memories tampered with. She has to solve the complicated mystery of her own past. At the outset, her only clues are a photograph and a book of fantasy short stories. Gradually, she pulls out her memories, with a lot of peculiar twists, and many difficulties in finding any corroboration. For all the reviewers that say Polly is sappy, for heaven's sake, she's a child, 10 at the beginning, and she grows up very gradually--she's only 19 at the end.
Like a lot of other reviewers, I got very confused at the end. Couldn't tell you exactly what happened, although I'm certain that Polly saved Tam Lynn, and that she was not pregnant, as she is in more traditional versions.My confusion is why I only gave the book a 4, even though I really loved the book. I'd like to know what happened there at the end, but it doesn't matter that much to the quality of the story.

4-0 out of 5 stars from missprint.wordpress.com
Diana Wynne Jones is at the top of my list of best fantasy writers for children and young adult fiction (along with Vivian Vande Velde and Garth Nix). Her books are well-crafted, rich enough that I'd say most could be crossover adult books, and truly original.

"Fire and Hemlock" is one of my favorite books by Jones. It's place as number one is rivaled only by "Howl's Moving Castle." Originally published in 1985, "Fire and Hemlock" is a modern retelling of the ballads of Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer--Scottish legends about woman wooed by a fairy man whom she has to hold onto through a variety of obstacles to save him from being a sacrifice in the fairy realm."Fire and Hemlock" veers pretty far from that original premise so it isn't necessary to be well-versed in the related lore tofollow the story.

Polly seems to have a normal life. She is getting ready to return to college with her roommate, she has a boyfriend, her grandmother. All of the memories seem mundane. Yet, as Polly sits packing at home, she realizes that some of her memories don't make sense. In fact, some of her memories don't seem right at all.

It all started nine years ago when Polly walked in on a strange funeral at the mansion next door. After that Polly came into possession of an entrancing picture of burning bales of hay called "Fire and Hemlock." Nine years ago was also when Polly began having adventures with Tom Lynn--a man she can barely remember in her "normal" memories.

Told in Polly's present and flashbacks to her not normal memories, the novel follows Polly's efforts to separate fact from fiction and discover why everything changed before it's too late.

There is no gentle way to say this: the novel starts slow. Faithful readers will be rewarded once they get into the narrative, but that does take time since the story starts with Polly doing little more than packing her bags. The style is common as Jones blends elements of the modern world with old world elements (the Tam Lin lore here).

Polly and Tom's interactions are the bread and butter of the story. The dialogue between them is vividly authentic and humorous. Tom Lynn is one of those dashing heroes that come up too rarely in contemporary fiction while Polly is a persistent, strong young woman who most parents would want their daughters to see as a role model.

The writing here is strong. Jones creates an interesting story. My only qualm is that the ending gets quite confusing, requiring several readings to make sense of exactly what happens. Despite that weakness, the book as a whole is amazing. It's a fantasy without being too fantastic, a romance without being too mushy. A happy medium for fans of either. ... Read more

3. Charmed Life
by Diana Wynne Jones
 Paperback: Pages (2007)
-- used & new: US$9.99
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: B001KTUIJ8
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (58)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
This is truly a great fantasy book.I was instantly hooked on the characters of Cat and Chrestomanci, and couldn't put this book down.I went right out and picked up all the other books in the series that were available at the time, and have since picked up any new ones as soon as they came out.This is by far my favorite fantasy series!

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
Charmed Life is about some kids who go to study magic with one of the official guys in charge of magic.He has a couple of kids of his own, and they are the usual school age to have the school age disagreements and fights and not being nice to each other that goes along with that.

The eldest also gets a bit peeved at being thrown in with the young brats, too.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great Fantasy Young Adult, but mediocre for Jones
A young boy, Cat, must deal with his crazy and selfish older sister Gwendolyn who is obsessed with her own magical powers. Certainly much slower and less exciting than Jones' Howl books (read: more for children), but still has her enchanting and seemingly effortless style that captures a world where "magic is like music". Jones is always a good read. The characters are mysterious and thoroughly enjoyable. Gwendolyn is ambiguous and silly and selfish and delightful. Cat is an innocent; Chestomanci is Jones' typical ambiguous and passive wizard. The imagery of magic, particularly Cat's matchstick nine lives, is absolutely delicious. Grade: B

5-0 out of 5 stars A Charmed Surprise ...
"Charmed Life" is my first Diana Wynne Jones book (I know, I know ... I'm a little late) and I'll openly admit I came to her work through Miyazaki's amazing film "Howl's Moving Castle".Imagine how stupid I felt when I realized that I had been missing out on one of the best writers of our age. While it starts off slowly, Jones's first Chrestomanci book is still a grand, magical, yet simple adventure that sweeps the reader off their feet into a quirky yet solid world that readers will enjoy again and again.

Eric, a.k.a., Cat Chant, is a small and passive boy who thinks that he has no magical powers unlike his sister Gwendolen.Gwendolen is an ambitious, spoiled, and powerful girl who dreams of controlling the world. One day, when their parents die in a tragic boat accident, Gwendolen's powers attract the attention of the dapper and eccentric Chrestomanci.Chrestomanci is an enchanter, and a nine lived one at that, so that means he controls and governs all magic in the twelve related worlds.Chrestomanci seems to take an interest in Gwendolen, so he invites her and Cat to live in his castle.

When they arrive at the castle, both children dislike it at first.But Cat, being the passive boy that he is, quickly makes friends with Chrestomanci's two children even though he's absolutely frightened to death of their father. But Gwendolen has other ideas.She hates the fact that she has to learn maths and history instead of magic in school, and she is absolutely appaled that Chrestomanci doesn't take notice in her powers. Soon, Gwendolen sets out on a war of wills and magic against Chrestomanci and his castle, and Cat is unbeknowingly caught up in the whirlwinds of his sister's dangerous ambitions.

Jones is brilliant in her prose and writing.She easily writes with a sense of whimsy, while at the same time fleshing out realistic characters and villains.Cat is passive at first, but he soon grows a spine and stands up against the one thing that holds him back (I won't ruin the surprise).Jones' magic is an everyday and casual part of life for the characters, but it comes in second to their emotions and the overall story. The story takes so many surprising twists that shocked and surprised me, I was literally biting my nails towards the end wondering what would happen next.

"Charmed Life" is a delightful and charming surprise. While not a grand and sweeping epic, it will still sweep readers off their feet with the simple and quiet humor, magic, and sheer enjoyment that Jones so evidently finds and puts into her work. This book is not to be missed, and I can only end with saying how foolish I feel now that I didn't find Diana sooner.

5-0 out of 5 stars Diana has done it again!
I am constantly on the lookout for new fantasy reads, because not only is it difficult to find a truly lasting (and by "lasting" I mean you think about it all the time, read it again and again, and gulp down every one of the author's other books) fantasy story, but if you do that author is usually what they call A Lofty One-Piece Wonder who writes one astonishingly beautiful story, gives it to the world...then settles into retirement and ignores all letters posted to them begging for a sequel.

Ah, not so with Diana Wynne Jones.

Hearing about her was actually an accident. I had picked up the book "Inkspell", the sequel to a book I'd enjoyed very much (Inkheart) and saw, on the back, that there was a quote on the back from "Diana Wynne Jones, author". For fun, I wandered over to the J's. Only a few Diana books were there -- THE MERLIN CONSPIRACY, ARCHER'S GOON, and -- the book that forever endeared me to this amazingly talented author -- EIGHT DAYS OF LUKE.

Having five dollars just aching to be spent and about that many minutes left till we had to go, I bought it on a whim.

And inhaled it that night.

I was going through withdrawls. NEED -- MORE -- DIANA -- WYNNE -- JONES -- BOOKS!!!

I got back to Borders and began to scrounge the shelves. Hmmm. "Chronicles of Chrestomanci". Looked okay -- not as good as I'd thought "Eight Days of Luke" was, but -- what was?

I read a little, put it down. Read a little more, and -- couldn't stop.

I am now on Book II, "The Lives of Christopher Chant".

I think you understand what I'm trying to say. Buy this book -- and while you're at it get "Eight days of Luke", too.

Rating: Very Good ... Read more

4. Archer's Goon
by Diana Wynne Jones
Paperback: 336 Pages (2003-03-01)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$192.73
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0064473562
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

"Face the facts!
This town is run by
seven megalomaniac wizards!"

When Howard Sykes comes home to find a giant thug -- the Goon -- in the kitchen, life turns upside down. Archer, one of seven siblings who control everything in their town from electricity to the police, has sent the Goon to collect the two thousand words Howard's father owes him. Suddenly, the Sykes family is caught in the middle of the wizards' battle for power -- and only Howard can save them!

... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars just as described
The book came on time as promised and in the condition promised.thank you

5-0 out of 5 stars Full of non-stop action and wickedly funny
He is large, ugly and not leaving their kitchen. He is a Wizard's Enforcer. He is Archer's Goon. But what is he doing in the Sykes' kitchen, claiming to be sent by Archer and demanding the "two thousand" promised by Howard's dad, Quentin, who had better come up with the payment--and quickly?

At first Howard is relieved to find the two thousand is only words, and that his writer father has already sent them. But he sent them to Mountjoy, the man with whom he usually deals. What does a man Quentin has never heard of want with them?

Howard is determined to find out, and before he knows it he is drawn into a bizarre plot that threatens not only his own family but the whole world.

Wickedly witty and full of Diana Wynne Jones's usual non-stop action and amazing plot twists (though the plot is not as convoluted as in many of her later books) Archer's Goon is a great read for both young and not-so-young.

(BTW, I find it extremely irritating that the BBC turned Archer's Goon into a TV serial but Television New Zealand never bothered to buy it. While it's probably available on DVD, DVDs from the BBC are horrendously and inexcusably expensive.)

5-0 out of 5 stars Out to take over the world - if they can leave town
"A Goon is a being who melts into the foreground and sticks there."
"All power corrupts, but we need electricity."
"It pays to increase your word power."
- from the author's note

Although Jones seems to be classified as a "children's" author, I've found her a very fine fantasy writer with a sly sense of humor ever since I took amazon.com's advice and first read HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE. While ARCHER'S GOON (a stand-alone work rather than a volume in any of Jones' series) has a young protagonist, but like Jones' other work can be enjoyed by any fantasy reader, since she doesn't talk down to her audience.

On the morning the story opens, Howard Sykes faces a typical day of school, avoiding violin practice, and the usual clashes with his little sister (nicknamed 'Awful', with a voice like an ambulance siren). Just an ordinary day in an ordinary little town, right?

Then the title character, a huge thug promptly nicknamed 'the Goon', shows up.

"What's Dad done?"
"Told her. Sykes got behind with his payment. Archer wants his two thousand. Here to collect it."
"Who *is* Archer?"
"Archer farms this part of town. Your dad pays, Archer doesn't make trouble."

In exchange for being let off his taxes - and maybe other things - Howard's father has been sending 2000 words in an envelope to City Hall every month for years. Sykes tries to laugh this off, saying it's a private joke he used to break his writer's block years ago - but now one sibling after another of the seven siblings running the town wants to get hold of the last batch of words and figure out what Archer's been up to all this time. Despite being adults, the siblings don't get on any better than Howard and Awful do; they've just got a truce by which they've divvied up the city. (One sister runs law enforcement while her twin handles crime, for example; Archer runs city power, Hathaway transportation. The brother who got last choice got waste management.) We eventually meet each sibling in turn; in some cases, the main characters must work out where that particular sibling's HQ must be, given their discipline.

The siblings settled into town about a decade before the story opens, planning to use it as a base for taking over the world - but they can't even get along with each other except for staying out of each other's way, and some seem to have changed their minds about running the world. But at least one appears to be interfering with all the others - all of them seem magically constrained to stay within the city limits, although they all deny knowing who did it, how, or why. The siblings have different personalities, and one or two really *are* efficient enough at organization to run the world if they can get free of the town.

Sitting down and asking myself why I like this book so much, I think it's basically the same reason I like some of GK Chesterton's grand conspiracy stories: on the surface we have an ordinary, apparently completely mundane and boring setting - but underneath that surface, even the most mundane activity may cover the activities of some agent of a colorful conspiracy. For instance, Hathaway doesn't get out much, which explains the town's disorganized road construction programs and why potholes don't get fixed properly. Archer has his secret lair in a bank vault and likes gadgets. The brother who runs entertainment travels with an entourage of disco dancers and the local cathedral choir when he wants to foil eavesdroppers.

The Goon himself *looks* very threatening, and refuses to leave without Archer's overdue batch of words, but he's easily bullied about little things like where he puts his feet, and can almost be overlooked like a large pet or easygoing protector - a dangerous assumption to make, perhaps.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hare today, goon tomorrow
I'm not gonna lie to you.This book is about a Goon belonging to Archer.To be exact, it is about the repercussions of living with a Goon for an extended amount of time.I've slowly been devouring the collected works of Diana Wynne Jones and so far I haven't been disappointed by a single one of her titles.Each book is even odder and more bizarre than the last, often causing the reader to clasp his or her head from time to time and shout, "How does she think this stuff up?"."Arthur's Goon" is no exception to this rule.A brilliantly warped view of absolute power corrupting absolutely and the power plays that go on between siblings (no matter what their age), this book deserves to be remembered as one of the best children's novels out there today.

Walter comes home one day to discover a Goon sitting in his family's kitchen.Your typical hired heavy, the Goon has been sent by the mysterious Archer to collect from Walter's dad about 2000 words.It seems that for the last 13 years Walter's father (Howard) has been writing 2000 words a month and sending them off to a mysterious somebody.Now the words have become misplaced and the Goon has been sent to collect.As Howard steadfastly refuses to type any more, things start to go a little crazy.It isn't long before Walter and his family come to realize that their town is run by seven power mad sibling wizards.These wizards have been trapped in the town and each one runs a different part of it.For example, Dillian farms (that means runs) the police force while Shine farms crime.Now it's up to Walter to solve the mystery of the seven mysterious beings and to figure out who exactly is behind their entrapment within the town.

Author Jones is equally a master at engaging peculiar characters as she is creating complex multi-layered plots.You grow to love the Goon as he grows horribly lovesick for a young college student staying with Walter and his family.And who wouldn't identify with Walter when he has to deal with his appropriately nicknamed little sister Awful.I would venture to guess that she's the worst little sister character I have ever encountered in a kid's book, and that's saying a lot.Then there's the mystery to contend with.As Walter meets more and more of the seven the reader slowly is given clues to understand who's behind it all.Not since Raskin's, "The Westing Game" did I have this much fun with a mysterious kid's book.And to be honest, I never guessed the ending until I was told.The surprise twist this book carries is a doozy.If you figure out who's behind it all before they tell you then you're probably the kind of person who downs Agatha Christie novels like pop tarts.

Unfortunately, I have a bone to pick with this book.Sad to say, either I wasn't bright enough for some of the loose ends here or they were just too darn loose.The ending of this story is never fully explained and (to be frank) I don't believe we ever do find out EXACTLY how the seven brothers and sisters were trapped in the town at all.Some of these points are glossed over so beautifully that it takes a full three hours after putting the book down to realize what it is that you have missed.Now I'm 26 years of age and if I can't understand parts of this tale it's probably a fair guess that your average 10 year-old reader with have similar problems.

Still, that's my only quarrel.There's so much to love here that I feel a little dour making these kinds of comments.I mean, how can you dislike a book where a character like Awful is constantly asking the seven wizards where they come in order of birth so that she can better understand the pecking order in the family?It's a delightful tale about family fights and what it is that exactly makes up a family at all.And then of course there's the goon.Last of all I display for you the fabulous goon that starts this book rolling and, quite possibly, ends it.Here's to goons, ladies and gentlemen!May they grace the pages of more and more children's books in the future.

5-0 out of 5 stars Totally fun (and not outta print anymore!)
This book was way fun to read, full of humor, magic and character. Amazing to think that when Diana Wynne Jones wrote this even SHE didn't know what was going to happen.

Howard Sykes comes home one day to find a goon- a huge dirty guy, anyway- sitting in his kitchen, saying that he comes from Archer, and refusing to move until he gets the 2000 words Howard's father owes him.

But the words got misplaced by Fifi, a college student who stays at the Sykes's house. So Fifi, Howard and Howard's little sister, Awful (who can live up to her name at times) go to find it.

Well, one thing leads to another and they soon find out that the whole town is run by 7 wizards (who are all related).

For me to give you a play by play here would take too long, but if you're thinking of reading this or just looking for a great book to read, I HIGHLY recommend this. ... Read more

5. The Lives of Christopher Chant (Chrestomanci Books)
by Diana Wynne Jones
Hardcover: 336 Pages (2001-04-01)
list price: US$15.95
Isbn: 0060298774
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

His father and uncles are enchanters, his mother a powerful sorceress, yet nothing seems magical about Christopher Chant except his dreams. Night after night, he climbs through the formless Place Between and visits marvelous lands he calls the Almost Anywheres. Then Christopher discovers that he can bring real, solid things back from his dreams. Others begin to recognize the extent of his powers, and they issue an order that turns Christopher's life upside down: Go to Chrestomanci Castle to train to be the controller of all the world's magic.

The Lives of Christopher Chant is the adventure-filled story of the boyhood of Chretomanci, the famous magician who also appears in Charmed Life, Witch Week, and The Magicians of Caprona.

"A Born storyteller weaves her own brand of magic." --The Horn Book (starred review)

"A cracking good story." ALA Booklist

... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

4-0 out of 5 stars another clever and highly imaginative tale from Diana Wynne Jones
Christopher is an only child of two parents that constantly bicker, and every night, Christopher travels to other worlds for great adventures. He has a cool uncle Ralph that seems the understand him. Soon, Christopher is meeting a young man named Tacroy in the other worlds and running "experiments" for his uncle, smuggling magical supplies back to his own world. Christopher, it is discovered, has nine lives and his so magically powerful that he is destined to become the next Chrestomanci. He befriends a similar powerful young person, a Goddess, in another world. Slowly and without realizing it, Christopher falls into darkness, becoming an angry, unkind, and disagreeable child that is breaking the laws of magic. Christopher must determine who is good and who is just trying to use him. My favorite character is Tacroy, who is quite ambiguous, and yet is sort of Christopher's Sirius Black, as the only one who can identify with him as a spirit traveler and understands him. The book itself is just another beautifully written, incredibly clever and imaginative and magical work from Diana Wynne Jones. The images and so vivid and so brilliant. Grade: A-

4-0 out of 5 stars A Death Wish, Anyone?
Diana Wynne Jones tells the backstory of everyone's favorite enchanter, Chrestomanci, in "The Lives of Christopher Chant".Chrestomanci turned the sterotype of old, sagely wizards upside down in the first Chrestomanci book with his dapper attitude and humorous qualities.However, I'll be frank; I did not enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed "Charmed Life".The story was very slow in places and the ending was very rushed.But, Jones still won me over with her delightful characters, quirky magic, and adept talent at writing meaningful and thoughtful fantasy.

Christopher Chant starts out as a normal boy who doesn't quite understand everything that's going on around him.Christopher never even bothered to tell people, ecspecially his feuding parents and nannies, about his dreams and the worlds he visits in them.But one day, Christopher's new nanny discovers all of the objects Christopher brings back from his dreams, and informs Christopher's Uncle Ralph, a charming enchanter, about them.It turns out that Christopher is a spirit traveler, or a person who visits the twelve related worlds in their dreams.Uncle Ralph soon recruits Christopher for many "experiments" where Christopher must bring him back various goods from the related worlds, and Christopher is only too happy to oblige.

On these experiments, Christopher soon loses many lives at such an obvious rate that he realizes he has nine lives and is a powerful enchanter, even though Christopher can barely manage the simplest of spells.Christopher is soon sent to live in Chrestomanci Castle for training, and he hates it.He would much rather play cricket than become the next Chrestomanci, but everything changes when Christoper realizes that his "perfect" uncle is really an inter-world illegal smuggler, and Christopher so happens to be his partner-in-crime even though he didn't know what he was doing in the first place.

The story is told with Jones' usual quirky prose and humor.Many readers who read the first book will smile as the story goes on and many of Chrestomanci's background is cleverly explained.Christopher as a character is skillyfully progressed from a naive and somewhat cold child to an aware and powerful enchanter.However, the story, as much as I would like to deny it, does suffer some problems.The beginning is a very long drawl, as well as the middle, and nothing interesting happens till Christopher finally arrives at Chrestomanci castle.From there to the ending its a smooth ride.Unfortunately, it appears that Jones didn't know what to do with her ending as its very quick and jumbled. For the last fifty pages, everything is unusally described and very confusing.I just wish that the story had ended with a strong conclusion rather than the sentence "that is really all, except for a letter that arrived for Christopher from Japan soon after New Year ..."

Even though the ending was a jumbled mess, we're still talking about Diana Wynne Jones here, and her brilliant writing and humorous details makes even a very weakly plotted book enjoyable.While I did not enjoy "The Lives of Christopher Chant" as much as I enjoyed the first book, readers everywhere are sure to enjoy how Chrestomanci went from a timid boy into a powerful enchanter.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite fantasy books
I read this book many years ago, and did not even realize that it was part of a series until recently. I bought the other books in the series, and was expecting the other books to be similar to this writing style. While the other three books in the series are good stories and entertaining reading, it is "The Lives of Christopher Chant" that is the best of the series. This book has more depth and humor than the other books in the series. I devoured this book in one setting, because of the wonderful imagery and use of dry humor and wit. I actually don't think that you need to read the books in the series in order; besides the first two in the series, these books really don't have much in common with each other, besides the Chrestomanci character. Each book is a wonderful book in its own right. However, it is this book that gives the best background of the world in which Chrestomanci lives. Highly recommended, especially if you like J.K. Rowling - this book is the most similar to Rowling's style.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Real Page-Turner!
"Oops!" The dragon spews fire all over Christopher and "There goes another life!"The Lives of Christopher Chant is a book about a nine-lived boy named Christopher.Every night he dreams he gets out of bed, walks around the corner of the fireplace in his room, and slips into a dreary world called "The Place Between."While conducting experiments there Christopher loses some of his nine lives.

Strong things about this book are that the story line moves along quickly, so your interest stays captive.You'll also appreciate how Dianne Wynne Jones's story line is unique.No other author has ever written anything like her "Place Between!"Her strong characters really pull the story together.Take "The Christomancy" (The Magic Governor) for instance.It seems like he was always a strict and stern man born to be "The Christomancy."However, he actually started out like Christopher, angry and bewildered.

More details would improve The Lives of Christopher Chant.Having additional information would make it easier to visualize Asheth's Temple, and why The Living Asheth (the girl who acts as a channel for the god Asheth's power) wanted to get away.More explanation about why silver stops Christopher from working magic would be helpful.Was it Christopher's dad's fault that silver stops him operating magic?

Rush out and buy The Lives of Christopher Chant, it's a page turner!The story line is new and interesting.It is a magic book, and you can never tell what's going to happen!I hope you don't lose your nine lives as quickly as Christopher Chant!

5-0 out of 5 stars FABULOUSLY 'CHANTING!!!!
This an incredibly lovely book that I have read a million times; and each time has been just as enjoyable as the last.
This book is the second in the Chrestomanci Quartet, and is my favorite of the four. The story is about a boy named Christopher Chant who discovers that he has magical powers, and, in due time, a truly amazing and exciting life ahead of him. Buy this book! I assure you that you won't regret it;~) ... Read more

6. Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories
by Diana Wynne Jones
Paperback: 608 Pages (2006-02-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.99
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0060555351
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review


Master storyteller Diana Wynne Jones presents ariveting collection of unpredictable tales, including:

  • A cat tells how the kindhearted wizard she owns is suddenly called upon to defeat a horrific Beast.
  • When Anne has mumps, her drawings come to life, and she must protect her home from them.
  • Four children become involved in the intrigue surrounding an innocent prince, an evil count, and a brave outlaw.

These fifteen stories and one novella will enchant, startle, and surprise!

... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Stories by a mistress of fantasy
Britisher Diana Wynne Jones is best known as an author of fantasy novels for tweens and teens, but in this anthology she proves that she can do just as well in short forms, and even betrays some skill at science fiction.Two of the 15 stories ("What the Cat Told Me" and "Little Dot") have feline protagonists; three ("The Plague of Peacocks," "Auntie Bea's Day Out," and "The Fat Wizard") are laugh-out-loud funny; one ("Carruthers") offers a touch of the horrific; and two ("No One" and "Dragon Reserve, Home Eight") are definitely sf.Almost half the book's bulk is taken up by "Everard's Ride," a Victorian-era fantasy about a brother and sister who discover an alternate world centered on a nearby island.Like all the best examples of its genres (all three of them), it contrives to be thoroughly plausible despite its fantastic elements, and is equally enjoyable by adults.

3-0 out of 5 stars An Uneven Collection
Many of these stories are wonderfully wry and clever, a great read for anyone who enjoys Jones' writing. Unfortunately, there are a few that fall short: most of these are stories that are not particularly clever. It is not that Jones tries and falls short, just that the stories where she is not exercising her considerable wit lack the sparkle of the others. It is a shame that the novella in this collection is one of these--it is a straightforward fantasy adventure, with no brilliance at all.
However, the good stories in the collection are well worth reading.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good Stuff But All Repeats: MAJOR SPOILERS
I was very pleased when Unexpected Magic finally came out into paperbook. Diana Wynne Jones, most have to admit, is quite an inventive author and I was looking forward to her short stories. It's not that I was disappointed with the novel itself, but rather, nothing that was in this book was new. All these short stories have been published at one time or another, but then, perhaps some of them are difficult to find in circulation today, I don't know.

I thought I would give a brief summary of each of the short stories just in case you wanted to know what they were about. Next to the titles of the stories I will but the other books they can be found in.

The Girl Jones (found in Sisters)
When a girl is stuck with over ten little children to take care of she is only at a momentary loss at what to do. She takes them down a street that leads to a river where they all splash around naked. A well-written story of an early girl's awakening into foreshadowed adolescence, nothing graphic.

Nad and Dan adn Quaffy (Believing is Seeing)
When a mother acquires a word processor to replace the typewriter her son breaks she finds herself a successful writer of Science Fiction. As she works on her latest novel, she finds herself tlaking to a man who lives in the sort of world that can be found in her books. The man is tryingto overthrow a matriarchy and needs her help. An interesting perspective into the pschological aspects of a mother/son relationship, gender issues, and a writer's process.

The Plague of Peacocks (Warlock at the Wheel and Other Stories)
Residents of the town of Chipping Hanbury wish the interfering Platts would get out of town. The residents know there is only one boy to do it-Daniel. Daniel can make inexplicable things happen. The residents hope such things happen soon. Interesting enough story but nothing stellar.

The Master (Believing is Seeing)
A vet-on-call recieves a strange telephone call asking for her to come out to the woods-it's urgent. Thus unfolds a bizarre series of events endangering the vet's safety. She stumbles onto a dead body, starving wolves, and a fool that seems to know more than his name lets on. Definately a creepy tale with a fantastic ending!

Enna Hittims (Believing is Seeing)
A strange story involving three made up characters running amok. Poor anne is stuck at home with the mumps. To keep herself entertained she draws pictures of made-up characters. Together the three characters have adventures all on the blanket on Anne's bed. The more Anne draws them, the more real they become until they end up targeting her as the enemy!

The Girl Who Loved the Sun (Believing is Seeing)
A quasi-tragic tale about a girl who wants the sun to love her. She pracices turning into trees to make him happy. She studies how to turn into a tree that the sun will like the most. In the meantime, a suitor comes to marry the girl and falls in love with her. Tragedy ensues.

The Fluffy Pink Toadstool (Warlock at the Wheel)
Mother was known for going through phases such as everyone wearing "hand-made" clothing. A magical being takes pity on her family as they are going through their mother's phase of only eating "natural" food. The being gives the little boy of the family a bright pink mushroom that ends up multiplying to fill the entire house. Now what will Mother do?

Aunt Bea's Day Out (Warlock at the Wheel)
Aunt Bea insists on taking the children out to the seaside much to their displeasure. They end up on a magical island that transports them all to different sorts of islands, like a traffic island.

Carruthers (Warlock at the Wheel)
A wierd story about a talking stick that a child feeds in hopes of it beating his father.

What the Cat Told Me (Believing is Seeing)
A cat and a boy are abused by a wizard. Together they call a great spirit to help them out. The spirit inhabits the cat and through her, is able to go to a manor to get the boy things to eat. The boy ends up meeting a girl in the manor, etc., etc.

The Green Stone (Fantasy Stories)
A bard tries to desparately record the start of a quest only to have it canceled.

The Fat Wizard (Guardian Angels)
A sort of confusing story about a girl, her aunt who is a witch, a pet pig, and a bed tempered wizard. The girl changes the dynamics of the town to most everyone's benefit.

No One (Warlock at the Wheel)
Poor No One has been incorrectly programmed. His robotic memeory was not prepared to deal with all the new-fangled devices in the house, nor with the main house controller or with the invisible Some One. Add mowing down the flowers and dealing with a four burglars and No One is in a heap of trouble. The story is told from the robot's point of view, and intereresting perspective and premise.

Dragon Reserve, Home Eight (Warlock at the Wheel)
Facinating story about a girl gone heg. When someone "goes heg" it means "one with human form who is not human." They can "mind read, kindle fire or more objects at a distance, heal or kill by use of mind alone, survive shooting, drowning, or suffocation..." (page 281). Men from the Dragonate, the police force of the 10 worlds, come to take her away. But things are not as easy as they seem for the men. Enter Slavers and dragons and things that were once viewed as wrong are blatently right.

Little Dot (Firebirds)
This is really a great story, especially if you like cats. Henry the wizard seems to have a knack for attracting cats, like Little Dot, brave and foremost of the cats, or Millmant who likes water or even Mr. Williams who enjoys being cuddled. Soon Henry's farmer neighbors come to him with a problem-there is an unusual beast eating their animals. Henry sets to work on the problem and the outcome is delightful and surprising indeed!

Everard's Ride
This novella is fairly gripping with an interesting and unusual portrayal of a parallel world. Josiah Hornby, neither gentry nor farmer, decides buying a deserted castle is just the thing suited to his position in life, never mind the tales that it is haunted. And though he and his children do not live in the castle upon the island it is inevitable that the children, Alex and Cecelia, should run away to the island and enter a parallel world with plenty of problems of its own-an outlaw, a treacherous villian, a grieving prince, and a lack of knowledge of what tea is.

5-0 out of 5 stars Just an Excellent Collection of Fiction of the Type
If you love her other books, this will certainly complete your collection and, if you've never read the author, please give her a try. While this book may not be the best place to start, it does give you an overview of her style, her wit and her sheer entertainment value. This is great bed-side reading!!

3-0 out of 5 stars Filler stuff from a good author
I bought and read this book several months ago but recently realized I didn't remember anything about it, so I picked it up this week and started to leaf through it.The only thing I remember worth rereading was the novella "Everard's Ride," which was quite good in the usual DWJ tradition.All the rest was pretty tame stuff, especially the short story "Dan adn Nad and Quaffy," which particularly irked me.It would have been mildly interesting if Douglas Adams hadn't done the same "Quaffy" thing with "gin and tonics" several decades ago.

One thing I noticed (and after reading many of Ms. Jones' works I can't believe it took me this long to notice).English teachers and writing coaches always say "write what you know."Ms. Jones must have had a rather difficult childhood from which she wanted to escape - and possibly she spent a deal of time wishing she were a boy - because most of the central characters in her books and stories are teenaged boys living mildly-bad-to-really-annoying lifestyles, who are rescued and uplifted by magical forces to a much better lifestyle.It's a formula that works - especially since her books are very different each time, with the magic and its use in the world also being very different - but it's blatant once you come to realize it.

Still, I recommend this for "Everard's Ride" and the rest can suitably be saved for bathroom reading. ... Read more

7. Year of the Griffin
by Diana Wynne Jones
Paperback: 400 Pages (2001-08-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.51
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 006447335X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

It is eight years after the tours from offworld have stopped. High Chancellor Querida has retired, leaving Wizard Corkoran in charge of the Wizards' University. Although Wizard Corkoran's obsession is to be the first man on the moon, and most of his time is devoted to this project, he decides he will teach the new first years himself in hopes of currying the favor of the new students' families--for surely they must all come from wealth, important families--and obtaining money for the University (which it so desperately needs). But Wizard Corkoran is dismayed to discover that one of those students--indeed, one he had such high hopes for, Wizard Derk's own daughter Elda--is a hugh golden griffin, and that none of the others has any money at all.

Wizard Corkoran's money-making scheme backfires, and when Elda and her new friends start working magic on their own, the schemes go wronger still. And when, at length, Elda ropes in her brothers Kit and Blade to send Corkoran to the moon...well...life at the Wizards' University spins magically and magnificently out of control.

This breathtakingly brilliant sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm is all one would expect from this master of genre.

Books for the Teen Age 2001 (NYPL) andBest Children's Books 2000 (PW)

Amazon.com Review
In the very strange Pilgrim Parties of Diana Wynne Jones's Dark Lord of Derkholm, tourists from the next universe would come to wizards' lands expecting to have exciting battles with dwarfs, dragons, and the powers of darkness. Sadly, wizards were forced to host these hokey yet horrific pseudoadventures, and in the process, laid waste to their lands. But as its sequel Year of the Griffin begins, we learn with some relief that the mercenary Mr. Chesney's magic tours had ended eight years previous. While that is excellent news, the Wizards' University is now decidedly short of funds.

Wavy-blond-haired Professor Corkoran has plenty of schemes for extracting money from his students' families. But he always has plenty of ideas, and none of them work. Besides, he is too busy researching how to be the first man to walk on the moon to do much of anything else. As his new crop of students shows up, Corkoran is in for a surprise. Not only do none of them have any money, but one is a huge griffin, "brightly golden in fur and crest and feathers, so sharply curved of beak, and so fiercely alert in her round orange eyes that at first sight she seemed to fill a room." (Meet Elda, softhearted yet gigantic daughter of Wizard Derk.)

The hilarious goings-on begin when Corkoran's moneymaking schemes backfire horribly, and the motley crew of would-be wizards begin their studies. Comical tableaux involving spells that create deep pits and smelly winged monkeys alternate with suspenseful (yet always amusing) scenes involving tiny assassins who mean business. Jones's satirical pokes at academia, racial intolerance (the greenish and jinxed Claudia has mixed blood), and hierarchical societies (Ruskin is bucking the tyranny of the forgemasters to become the first dwarf wizard) keep the story lively, as do the realistic portrayals of her very odd and endearing cast of characters. You definitely don't have to have read Dark Lord to enjoy this wonderful sequel, but you may not be able to resist going back to it. (Ages 12 and older) --Karin Snelson ... Read more

Customer Reviews (33)

4-0 out of 5 stars Jones for Harry Potter fans
This book reminds me forcefully of Harry Potter, and I suspect it will appeal to the same people: although it is in some sense a sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm (set in the same world eight years later, with some of the same characters), it is quite different in its focus on a group of students attending a wizarding school. Like Rowling, Jones shows a flair for humor (this book is laugh-out-loud funny), quirky characters and magical mishaps, and seems uncomfortable writing any sort of romance. Of course, Year of the Griffin is also much shorter most Harry Potter installments, covers less time, is set in a fantasy world, focuses on six students rather than one hero, and lacks a Voldemort-style evil. Instead, antagonists appear in the form of mindless academia (a problem for these academically-oriented teens), a few rogue griffins, and the angry parents, assassins, etc., who are bound and determined to stop nearly every one of the six friends from attending wizarding school.

Year of the Griffin is a very enjoyable book, and the six first-year students--as well as several secondary characters--are quite well-developed considering the length of the book. While there are some themes younger kids might not pick up on, this is a very kid-friendly book (more so than Dark Lord), and conflicts are wrapped up in a way that may seem a little too pat for more mature readers. Still, it's good fun, and if you're like me you'll finish this one in less than a day.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!
Wonderful book, fast paced and kept my attention! I would definitely read this author again!

4-0 out of 5 stars Coffee on campus, a persistent enchanted cloakrack, and a golden griffin as the central character
YA fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones' marvelous easy-going narrative style really comes into play with this sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm. YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN doesn't have the grand canvas and the sheer frenetic tone of its predecessor. DARK LORD had its characters madly scampering all over the place, whereas our story here unfolds mostly in one venue, the Wizards' University. This lends a more focused, more personal feel to the story and a more settled pace. But that's not to say that nothing happens in these pages.

It's been eight years since the cessation of Mr. Chesney's offworld tours - tours which had exploited and lain waste to the land - but the aftereffects still reverberate. Several kingdoms are still struggling to full recovery. And, after forty years of kowtowing to Mr. Chesney, the Wizards' University has been rendered a tattered academia, its teachings hollow, its professors not at all up to snuff in the intricacies of magic. With the retirement of High Chancellor Querida, Corkoran has taken over as the chairmanship of Wizards' University. Except that Corkoran doesn't take this role as seriously as his fixation with reaching the moon. Anyway, the University is broke.

Into this mess steps this year's eclectic batch of freshmen, most of whom have ran away from prominent families to study magic. The crown prince of an improverished kingdom, whose magical repertoire includes accidentally opening up giant pits and holes. An ex-pirate king's daughter, who can talk to air elementals. A mysterious young man hunted by assassins. A princess who is also half-marsh girl, and who's saddled with a jinx. A lowborn dwarf spousing civil rights. And Elda, the golden griffin. Readers of DARK LORD OF DERKHOLM will remember Elda as the youngest daughter of the human wizard Derk (or was, Elda is now the third youngest). The terrific YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN goes on to tell of how these six students band together as chums and of their madcap adventures.

Keep in mind that, during the tours, the focus of the University's courses was directed towards basic wizardry, towards the survival of the tours' many hastily churned out wizard guides, comprised of University graduates. The fallout of this is that, even today, magic is still taught at a common denominator level. When Elda and her friends feel stifled by the rote and unimaginative lessons, they begin to experiment on their own. So cue the zany shenanigans, much to the annoyance of the snidely instructor, the Wizard Wermacht, Diana Wynne Jones' answer to Prof. Severus Snape. On a more serious note, the royal and political backgrounds of Elda's friends come to haunt the University and, soon, the whole lot in the University is busy repelling assassins, venal politicians, ex-pirates, and nasty cave griffins. It all culminates in more screwball, as various assortments of envoys and armies converge on the hapless university. And we find out if the Wizard Corkoran ever does reach the moon.

YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN is a fun, whimsical read, with its surface elements very accessible to younger readers. But, like DARK LORD OF DERKHOLM, YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN does carry an underpinning of mature themes (the neglect and sanctimoniousness of a stodgy, uncaring academia; a professor's obsession with personal research over teaching; a teacher's salacious behavior towards a female student...). So, yeah, on one level, all that solemn stuff is there to be picked up on, as well as knocks against politics and bullies (amusingly in the form of cave griffins).

While I enjoyed the new characters, the best parts for me were catching up with Elda's family, of which everyone but Shona put in an appearance. Elda's older brothers, Blade and Kit, are instrumental for the book's finale, while her dad, the Wizard Derk, drops in early on and, in fact, is the culprit who subversively sets Elda and her friends to questioning the University's current dead-in-the-water teaching methods. Elda herself is an awesome character, irrepressible and solicitous and fierce... and a big honking golden griffin (though the smallest of her griffin siblings). The author draws out plenty of humor with young Elda in university. When she crushes on a professor, it's mostly because he reminds her of her teddy bear... I also got a kick out of Elda's unaffected excitement and sheer joy whenever family members would drop in for a visit. That's very, very cool.

5-0 out of 5 stars perhaps a great book for all time
this book is amazing in how it intertwines comedy into drama that could be boring.one of my favorite comedic moments is the hive of books that Lukin gets encased in.
but in honestly, this book is a fun, but memorable read that is enjoyable for everyone.

5-0 out of 5 stars Easily the funniest of DWJ's books
I've been rereading most of Ms. Jones' books in order to find a phrase I remember but can't place.In the last week I've read Deep Secret, The Merlin Conspiracy, Archer's Goon, Mixed Magics, the second Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Dark Lord of Derkholm, and now Year of the Griffin.While all these books are entertaining and fun, Year of the Griffin is the one that is consistently amusing to the laugh-out-loud point.I think this may be because so many of the 'main' characters have such sarcastic attitudes.Everyone has a quip for the occasion. ... Read more

8. A Sudden Wild Magic (GollanczF.)
by Diana Wynne Jones
Mass Market Paperback: 380 Pages (1997-07-24)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$143.77
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0575601973
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

For aeons the mages of Arth, a neighbouring universe, have been looting Earth of ideas, innovations and technologies, all the while manipulating events and creating devastating catastrophes for their own edification. Now this brazen piracy is threatening Earth with total extinction. It is up to the Ring, a secret society of witches and warlocks dedicated to the continuance and well-being of mankind, to fight the virtuous, unbendingly traditional stronghold of Arth with an arsenal of psychological sabotage, internal dissension -- and kamikaze sex ... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

3-0 out of 5 stars Decent, but not one of her best
Diana Wynne Jones remains one of my favorite authors, even though I think I'm about 20 years older than her usual target demographic.However, this book struck me as geared to an older audience (more romance and complicated relationships & emotions than some of her other books, in addition to at least one graphically grotesque bit), and while I'd congratulate her for trying to push her artistic boundaries, A Sudden Wild Magic ended up not one being of her best books.

The plotline is pretty reasonably decent, though overly complex at points.The extra complexity kept me from being absorbed into the environment of the book, which is one of her true talents (readers of the Chrestomanci quartet or the Howl's line will know what I mean).

All in all, ASWM is not a bad read (it really finds its footing 2/3 of the way into the book), but I'd say there are other books out there that better highlight her true storytelling genius.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love the Author, Love the Book
So far, Diana Wynne Jones has not failed to disappoint!!!The characters and plot are engaging from beginning to end.A thourghly pleasant summer read!Yes, the plot is not wholly unpredicatable but what plot isn't?A light and interesting story of witches (and a magician) up against monastic magicians (and a witch) and an explanation of our planets the excessive troubles from WWII to Global Warming...

3-0 out of 5 stars Hard to judge
This book both suffers and blossoms in what readers have come to expect from Diana.I'm an avid reader of her work and, like most of her books, I found it distressingly hard to get into the story at first.Many characters are introduced all at once, with a bunch of ideas and storylines all getting thrown together.It takes almost a hundred pages before you can get comfortable with what you're reading, and by the time you ARE comfortable, you can't put it down.This book was no different - a crazy idea, that every major disaster to ever happen to Earth was done on purpose by a group of mages in another universe studying us to see what we'll do.

Diana's best strong point, in my opinion, is her ability to make a character instantly charming, and allow the reader to enthusiastically follow their line throughout the story.I think this book might have suffered a bit in that she couldn't decide WHICH character she liked the most, although it was clear to my mind which one I preferred. (Zillah, for anyone that's interested)

So, a hundred or so pages of painstaking reading to get into it, then 250 more pages or so of fluid story that fits well together, then the characteristic Jones ending of flushing everything together really quickly, adding some points, and making everything much more complicated then it really needs to be.But that's ok right - any previous reader of her work has come to expect an ending like that by now! I'd almost feel disappointed if it changed.With Diana, it's the JOURNEY that's the most important part, and then a general feel-good ending where the bad guy gets it and the good guy gets the girl and everyone's happy.Something was just...missing for this story though.For me, it was because my favorite character ended up with a guy that was not appealing at all, that Diana spent the entire book practically talking DOWN.And then the heroine ends up with him? Yuck!

Very interesting story once you get into it, I couldn't put it down all day.Too many characters to keep track of in my opinion, I was only able to really understand about 10 of them before I was too muddled to care, which is unfortunate.I wouldn't recommend it to a first time Diana reader, but someone who is familiar with her work will definately be able to appreciate it!I give it 3 stars instead of 4 because the love story didn't work out how I wanted it to. ;)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Intercontinual Intrusion
A Sudden Wild Magic is an independent fantasy novel.In a universe like ours, but in which magic is potent, the Ring oversees the mages and witches of Great Britain.The head of the Inner Ring begins to suspect covert external influence in recent history.He tests his suspicions with great care to avoid detection and then takes his evidence to another member of the Inner Ring for advice.

In this novel, Mark Lister travels to Hereford to consult with Gladys, the old women in the Inner Ring.After a bit of confusion over his purpose, they visit a dreadfully injured young women in the local hospital and hear an incoherent story.The evidence brought by Mark and the young woman's story lead them to believe that the external influence is coming from another universe.After dreaming of the intruders, Mark and Gladys gather Amanda and Maureen, the other two members of the Inner Ring, and determine a plan to invade the hostile base and eliminate the interference.

Zillah is Amanda's sister.Some time before, she had an affair with Mark and had a young son, Marcus, by him, but now the two are estranged.However, Zillah still loves Mark and decides to stow away on the assault vehicle to separate Marcus and herself from Mark.She soon finds herself in an unexpectedly strange environment.

The High Head of All Horns and King's Vicar on Arth is the head honcho of the observation base watching our universe.The Arth garrison is out of favor back in the Pentarchy.When the High Head inspects the latest batch of servicemen, he finds them to be a lot of odds and sods, with only the spoiled son of the Pentarch of Frinjen, a throwback of a gualdian, and a knock-kneed centaur standing out in the rabble.

When the converted bus used as an intercontinual assault vehicle arrives in the target universe, many of the inhabitants have been unexpectedly killed, leaving six women and Marcus, and their weapons have been short-circuited and made useless.They are rescued by the Arth garrison, who don't really know what to do with them.Despite their disastrous start, the remaining commandos decide to carry on and soon begin to disrupt the routine of the male garrison.Zillah inadvertently gets Tod, the Pentarch's son, banished to Earth and she is forced to flee from capture with Philo the gualdian and Josh the Centaur.Then strange things begin to happen to the Arth fortress itself.

This story describes the defense of our universe against a subtle and powerful interference from the outsideThe lady commandos strike back directly against Arth, the forward base, and Gladys finds another way to influence the outsiders.Meanwhile, infiltrators from Arth are trying to pierce the veil of secrecy placed around the Ring's operations.

Highly recommended for Jones fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of daring and magic with more than a touch of intrigue.

-Arthur W. Jordin

4-0 out of 5 stars Don't Judge a Book. . .
I love Diana Wynne Jones' work, but I actually avoided reading this book for YEARS because of the cover.The pastel color scheme and curly pink title script just seemed to repel my hand every time I encountered it on the shelf.I finally got around to reading it, though, and I loved it.It is set in the same universe as *Deep Secret* but I'm pretty sure it was written before that book, so the universe is not as well-articulated.I would have liked to know more about some of the characters, but otherwise it was a rollicking good read.It follows, among other things, a handful of witches out to sabotage a pocket universe full of celibate men (hilarity ensues), in order to save the earth from global warming (among other things).

If you already like D.W. Jones' books, don't miss this one.If you've never read any of her books, you might do better to start with *Deep Secret* or the Chrestomanci books.And if you pick up a copy with the pink title and pale aqua-colored book jacket, don't be misled-- it's still a good book. ... Read more

9. Spellbound: Fantasy Stories
by Diana Wynne Jones
Paperback: 280 Pages (2007-11-15)
list price: US$6.95 -- used & new: US$2.87
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0753461447
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Editorial Review

This collection of eighteen stories introduces young readers to the best in both classic and contemporary fantasy. Featuring extracts from enduring classics such as Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling, C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair, and Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, this anthology provides the perfect sample of a very popular genre. Carefully selected by Diana Wynne Jones, each story is sure to delight, enchant, and entice youngsters into the imaginative world of fantasy fiction. ... Read more

10. Wild Robert
by Diana Wynne Jones, Mark Zug
Hardcover: 112 Pages (2003-09-01)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$10.76
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: B000C4SPF6
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review


Heather's parents are the caretakers of the stately home Castlemaine, and Heather would love living there -- if it weren't for the tourists. Every summer they invade Castlemaine, and one day they even trample into all of her secret quiet spots. The only one left is a peculiar little mound that the villagers say is the grave of Wild Robert, a legendary magician who lived 350 years ago. When Heather cries out for Wild Robert to use his magical powers on the tourists, she never expects a handsome young man to appear right in front of her. She never expects all the mischief he causes, either! Will Castlemaine ever be the same once Wild Robert has returned?

This novel for young readers is full of Diana Wynne Jones's signature humor, inventiveness, and charm.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Nice, but lacking
Wynne Jones is a fabulous author and her daring takes her in all directions in her writing. This work is good, but gives the feeling it's not one thing or t'other. It would make an excellent first two or three chapters for a novel, or, if rewritten, an excellent short story. As is, with 116 pages, it is either too much, leading nowhere, or not enough. Personally, since I can't get enough of her work, I would vote for a novel ;).

3-0 out of 5 stars Just "Wild"
Most of Diana Wynne-Jones' fantasy adventures are solid, self-enclosed stories all by themselves. "Wild Robert" is a charming, interesting fantasy adventure, but it never quite figures out where to go or what to be. It's an entertaining novella, but not Jones' best.

Heather lives at Castlemaine, where her parents are the curators. But Heather hates the tourists and the lack of privacy. Then one day, she climbs onto an old mound and wishes that the legendary Wild Robert would come help her get rid of the tourists. Then she hears a voice: "Did someone call?"

It turns out that Wild Robert has been trapped in the mound for over three hundred years, because he studied the magic arts. Now he's just as ticked off as Heather is about the tourists -- but unlike Heather, he has no problem using his magic to help drive them away...

Diana Wynne-Jones seems to specialize in stories about the fantastical intruding on everyday people. And "Wild Robert" is one of those books. It's only a short novella (or long short story), but Jones manages to keep the storyline interesting and original (such as the feud of the old paintings).

Jones' customary sense of humor carries the story along, with the background about medieval witchcraft, magic, and the clash with modern-day tourists (who can be pretty obnoxious). The problem is that there isn't much of a plot -- Wild Robert visits, works magic, and weird things happen. At the end of the book, the story is clearly ongoing. Nothing changes, except that Wild Robert is hanging around.

Heather and Wild Robert are the principal characters in this book, and they are the only ones who get much development. Heather is a fairly typical Jones heroine, gutsy and willing to believe the unbelievable. It's Wild Robert himself who steals the show, with his tragic past and distinctly odd sense of humor.

"Wild Robert" is an entertaining light read, with a likable half-living hero and plenty of supernatural hijinks, but at the end you wish that Jones had expanded it into a fuller book.

4-0 out of 5 stars WildRobertRocks!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wild Robert was a great book filled with mystery, sadness,and joyfull feelings. It is so funny and suspenceful you won't know what to do.I bet you that once youv finised it you will turn the book over and over in your hands saying " Wow ".

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
This story is about a little girl who lives in an old house where her parents are the caretakers and tourguides.One day, while trying to escape a horde of tourists, she accidentally wakes the mischievous ghost of WildRobert.

This was another great story by an author I truly admire.Readit! The illustrations are great, too. ... Read more

11. The Game (Firebird)
by Diana Wynne Jones
Hardcover: 179 Pages (2007-03-01)
list price: US$11.99 -- used & new: US$2.25
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0142407186
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Hayley’s parents disappeared when she was a baby. Since then,she has been raised and homeschooled by her grandparents.Grandad is overworked and travels a lot; Grandma is much toostrict and never lets her meet any children her own age. WhenHayley does something wrong—she is not quite sure what—theypack her off to her aunts in Ireland. To Hayley’s shock, her familyis much bigger than she thought; to her delight, the childrenall play what they call "the game," where they visit a placecalled "the mythosphere." And while she plays the game, Hayleylearns more about her own place in the world than she had everexpected. This original novella by Diana Wynne Jones is sharplyfunny, fast-paced, and surprising until its very end—like all ofthis acclaimed author’s work. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

4-0 out of 5 stars Like Halley's Comet, It's There and Gone
Too short!Too short!Arrrgh!Diana Wynne Jones has come up with a universe more interesting than that of the Chrestomanci, and she gives us fewer than two hundred pages of it?It's hard to feel cheated if the alternative would be no mythosphere at all, but... arrrgh!

The concept:a peculiar young woman living with her altogether peculiar grandparents is sent away to her extended family in exile, because her grandmother thinks she's been 'bringing the strands here'... whatever that means.Hayley hasn't a clue.She didn't even know she *had* this many cousins, and all of them play a game involving the very thing her grandmother wanted to keep her away from:the mythosphere, a shining web enfolding the world, each strand made up of human vision and belief.

In its length and matter-of-fact acceptance of some very weird goings on, _The Game_ fits right into the children's category.Its subject matter is trickier to place.Are eight-year-olds likely to know about the Pleiades or Hesperides?I wouldn't tone down the mythological references in a million years, so I wish instead that Jones had kept going with the Game, and Hayley's life, and the conflict between Uncle Jolyon and his family until the book was at least as fat as _Charmed Life_.The setting deserves it!

As it is we get only intriguing tastes of the mythosphere and its occupants, and there's so much material here for more._The Game_ suffers from its length largely because Hayley's final conflict with Jolyon happens in twelve short pages.Until that point the main antagonist is barely on-scene.(It's ironic:the one mythological figure present that I'd think a child might know is less of a character than Pleone and Asterope.)How Hayley defeats him is also anticlimactic.I loved each of the hundred-plus pages spent on Hayley and the Game, but that much build up--well over half the book--for such a quick resolution?

I'd read it again happily, but the mythology geek in me hope-hope-hopes there are other, longer, deeper books in this universe someday.

5-0 out of 5 stars A pleasant purchase
The book is a wonderful one that has pleased both myself and my Lady. The provider was prompt and quick, and delivered a mint condition edition. I can think of no issues I do or will have with this order.
Thank you very much.

4-0 out of 5 stars great book
This book is an easy and entertaining read. Originally purchased to give to my daughter for her 7th birthday as she is doing accelerated reading, and wanted to proof it for myself. I think I will hold it for her next birthday as 7 might be a bit too young but that would depend on the child. Great way for younger kids to be able to read about magic, mythical creatures, and learn some mythology at the same time.

2-0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly mediocre
This author can almost always be relied upon for solid, if not brilliant, fantasy reads, but this one is a pale imitation of Percy Jackson and the Olympians (the Gods leaving mortal children with superpowers all over the earth who gradually learn to control their powers).It deservedly should go into the remainders bin.

3-0 out of 5 stars More like an outline for a possible series of novels than a stand alone story
I am a big fan of Diana Wynne Jones -- at her best there is no one who writes better (easy reading) fantasy in the English language.This novella (too short to be called a novel) is not her best.She has a grand concept here (though one that is not entirely unique as a similar notion is employed in Neil Gaiman's American Gods novels): that the collective beliefs we call myths take on a life of their own, in a parallel series of realities she calls the "mythosphere."Some individuals can "slip" in and out between their mythical existence and the world we call home.

Given that premise, "The Game" seems like a rough draft of a possible opening story that would introduce such a universe.The problem is that she published it, and it appears to stand alone.On its own this novella doesn't really do justice to the grand idea behind it.

The story only hints, for example, at what might happen when mythical beings from different strands interact.It doesn't go very far in clarifying the precise relation between the "mythosphere" and "mundane existence" and doesn't explain how these realms connect -- as another reviewer mentioned: the time scales of both seem to be very different but there is no indication of how that affects the characters' experiences of "mundane" reality.It also never really fleshes out the characters and especially the main character -- except to depict her as the standard type of fantasy hero/heroine: an orphan who is raised by adults who don't understand her and fear what she can become, finally gets a chance to escape and meet others like her and discover that her destiny is great.

Part of the problem is that what Jones is trying to do is keep the true identities of the characters a mystery until the very end when we are supposed to discover who they really are, and have an aha! moment that explains why they are the way they are.But to make that work we have to really connect with the character first on mundane terms before we discover their "extra-mundane" identity -- Jones did this very well in "Dogsbody" where I really felt that she gave me a window into the inner life of a dog before showing that this was no ordinary dog.But another major part of the problem is that we didn't get a long enough or clear enough view of what it was like to enter the mythosphere -- her descriptions didn't bring this to life for me but only seemed to sketch it.This is in contrast with her wonderful Chrestomanci series where I really felt like the world she described of parallel universes and some who could move between them was a living world.

I think she could have developed this world into something as compelling and real as the Chrestomanci world, and that this would have made a nice introductory story if it were developed a bit more.Even though we only have a glimpse here of what might have been it remains an imaginative and exciting set of possibilities she allows us to glimpse, and remains worth reading for that reason. ... Read more

12. Witch Week (Chrestomanci Books)
by Diana Wynne Jones
Hardcover: 288 Pages (2001-04-01)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$327.18
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0060298790
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

There are good witches and bad witches, but the law says that all witches must be burned at the stake. So when an anonymous note warns, "Someone in this class is a witch," the students in 6B are nervous -- especially the boy who's just discovered that he can cast spells and the girl who was named after the most famous witch of all.Witch Week features the debonair enchanter Chrestomanci, who also appears in Charmed Life, The Magicians of Caprona, and The Lives of Christopber Chant.Someone in the class is a witch. At least so the anonymous note says. Everyone is only too eager to prove it is someone else -- because in this society, witches are burned at the stake.Amazon.com Review
Someone in 6B is a witch. And, in the alternate reality described in Diana Wynne Jones's Witch Week, that's not at all a good thing to be.Jones plunks her readers directly into the life of Larwood House, a schoolin a present-day England that's a lot like the world we know, except forone major difference: witches are everywhere, and they are ruthlesslyhunted by inquisitors. With witty, erudite writing, Jones tells of theadventures of the class of 6B as they set about to discover who among themis a witch. Clearly it's not the popular Simon or the perfect Theresa.Could it be fat Nan or sluggish Charles? Mysterious Nirupam or shifty-eyedBrian? By the climax of the book (which, by the way, involves saving theworld), being a witch has become a badge of honor rather than a mark ofshame.

Jones skillfully and seamlessly switches from one point of view toanother, creating a comic companion piece to Lord of the Flies asshe shows with perfect understanding the way children torment eachother--and save each other. She neatly interweaves the dramatic plotwith knowing descriptions of school life, as when lumpen Nan warilyobserves the popular girls: "At lessons, she discovered that Theresaand her friends had started a new craze. That was a bad sign. Theywere always more than usually pleased with themselves at the start ofa craze... The craze was white knitting, white and clean and fluffy,which you kept wrapped in a towel so that it would stay clean. Theclassroom filled with mutters of, 'Two purl, one plain, twisttwo....'" Witch Week is a hugely entertaining book that doesn'tcondescendingly beat children over the head with its humane message ofacceptance. --Claire Dederer ... Read more

Customer Reviews (35)

4-0 out of 5 stars Move over, Harry Potter
Witch Weekly was given to me by a neighbor of mine when I was around nine or ten. It was my introduction to the marvellous works of British author, Diana Wynne Jones.
Witch Weekly is written on the premise of a world just like ours, particularly in the case of technology, with one small twist. There are witches in that world, as there have been since approximately 1600. However, in these modern times, witchcraft is illegal. Anyone who is a witch is burned in a barbaric bonefire under orders of the government.
The main location of the story is Larwood House, a boarding school in England for witch-orphans and children with other problems. The story focuses on one class in particularly, especially the main characters.
The two main, main characters of the novel are Charles Morgan and Dulcinea Pilgrim, called Nan. At the premise of the novel, one of the teachers, Mr. Crossley, has just discovered a note while grading papers, that reads in capital letters: SOMEONE IN THIS CLASS IS A WITCH. Now considering that witches are burnt, just for having witchcraft, even if they were as young as the children at Larwood House, this is a very serious accusation to make.
Nan is targeted by her classmates, in particular the girls, because of two reasons. Firstly, she is somewhat of a misfit in a school of misfits. She has no friends. She is a dumpy, quiet kind of girl, and she has trouble in gym class. Secondly, Nan's real name is Dulcinea, the name of the Archwitch, Dulcinea Wilkes, a notorious witch from history.
Charles is not targeted but instead, he has a series of close encounters witch sorcery. He accidentally turns invisible, and also casts a "Simon Says" type of spell on a classmate of his, Simon Silverson, who he greatly dislikes.
The two main secondary characters are Nirupam Singh and Estelle Green. Nirupam had an older brother, accused of witchcraft and burned, and thus, acts slightly as an advisor to Charles. Estelle's mother used to run a witch equivalent of the underground railroad before she got caught, and so becomes a friend and to some degree, an advisor to Nan.
Everything escalates when the regional witch inspector is scheduled to visit Larwood House.
Diana Wynne Jones writes diverse, sympathetic, multicultural characters.
She creates a vast, complex, believable universe far richer than the needless detail of J.K. Rowling.
I highly recommend Witch Weekly as well as other books by Diana Wynne Jones, such as The Magicians of Caprona, Mixed Magics, Charmed Life, A Tale of Time City, and The Many Lives of Christopher Chant.

5-0 out of 5 stars Magical writing
A funny, quick read as entertaining for adults as it is for children.With the obvious similarities in the boarding school setting and the children's discovery of their magical powers, Harry Potter comparisons abound.While they are similar on several levels (and I love both), the tone and feeling of this novel is all its own.Jones is obviously adept at building worlds and populating them with interesting magical details, but even more impressive is her characterization of the kids of 6B - the main characters of Nan and Charles seem especially real, and even with the more minor characters like Nirupam and Estelle, Jones is precise enough with her dialogue and descriptions to make them seem like real people.She clearly has a profound understanding of how children of this age relate to one another, and what's more, she doesn't write down to her readers or make her characters any less complex simply because they are young.The beginning may be somewhat slow, but the second half is just a delight.Recommended for anyone who likes boarding school books, quality YA fantasy, or laughing.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book I have ever read and the one I nver forgot
Witch Week is the book I loved and never forgot. Now that I am a mother, I have been trying to remember a lot of books I read from libraries and buy them for my child, but this one I never ever forgot. I used to buy it for kids on birthdays until it was time to read it to my own daughter. I read it again and had the same incredible sensation of floating as I did the first time. This was amazing, how can you feel entranced reading a book in the same way as when you were twelve? So I read it to her, she read it to me, I read it, she read it, then when we were done, we rented a CD and listened to it, just as hooked. When the CD was done, I wanted to go right back to the beginning, and start over, just to keep that magical feeling going, forever. Diana, I love you! I've reread other books by her, and they are all good so far, but Witch Week is still my favorite!

3-0 out of 5 stars Don't compare it to Potter, judge it on it's own merits!
Diane Wynne Jones has a lot of fans on Amazon so I feel like I need to justify why I'm giving this only 3 stars (I'd give it 3 1/2 if it would let me!)

Basic plot: in an alternate universe in 1970's England where witches DO exist and are persecuted and burned, an anonymous note accuses someone in a 6th grade class of a co-ed boarding school of being a witch. We have several suspects - (my favorite was Nirupam) they all seem to be outcasts in their own way.

I suppose this is where my complaining starts. I didn't like how one-dimensional a lot of the characters were, especially Theresa and Simon who just seemed like stock villains. The inquisitor was so obnoxious and Miss Hodge made no sense at all. SPOILER BELOW
Spoiler - she wanted to marry Mr. Wentworth because she thinks he makes lots of money and because she thinks he will get promoted soon and then when she learns that he is still married and basically broke because he is being taken advantage of by the school SHE STILL DEMANDS TO MARRY HIM??? What?? MINUS ONE STAR!!! Sorry, I expect an author to make sense and not turn a character into an idiot just for plot's sake!
The story had a good pace and tons of funny moments despite the complaints above and Nan, Charles and Brian really do seem like real 6th graders. Unfortunately, Brian's motives never really made sense.

The ending dragged. They kept going on and on and onnnnnn about Guy Fawkes. I don't know what it is about British authors and their love for Epic Fail Guy (even Harry potter had the phoenix Fawkes!) It's a tad bit tedious especially when you're trying to read a story not read a history lesson.

An important character who shows up near the end wont make any sense at all unless you've read The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 1: Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant first. And his 'vague looks' were just... ugh.

Anyway, don't compare this book to the Harry Potter series, it simply would not be fair. Though you can totally see some spots where JK Rowlings (and Jonathan Stroud from the Bartimaeus trilogy for that matter) were influenced, the Chrestomanci series does it's own thing and is definitely worth a read.

5-0 out of 5 stars what kind of ink does this woman use? does it come from another world?
In a parallel world much like our own, where witches are both common and burned at the stake, there is a class at a boarding school where odd things start happening. Birds burst into class, everything that Simon says comes true, and Nan starts flying on a broomstick at nights. In danger of being found out, they call on Chestomanci for help and to put their world to right. Jones elevates an ordinary story into the realm of magic by maintaining mystery throughout and creating such miraculous magical elements. Her characters are fantastic, too. She is thoroughly addicting. Grade: A- ... Read more

13. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 1: Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant
by Diana Wynne Jones
Mass Market Paperback: 608 Pages (2001-01-31)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.42
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 006447268X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

In this multiple parallel universes of the Twelve Related Worlds, only an enchanter with nine lives is powerful enough to control the rampant misuse of magic--and to hold the title Chrestomanci...

The Chants are a family strong in magic, but neither Christopher Chant nor Cat Chant can work even the simplest of spells. Who could have dreamed that both Christopher and Cat were born with nine lives--or that they could lose them so quickly? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (72)

5-0 out of 5 stars the chronicles of chrestomanci, part I
in my opinion, this is a very good book. except for the beginnig being a bit slow at first, it is an exceptional story, with a good plot,well rounded characters, and a great setting universe. it's the universe i espechally like. see, when dianne writes a book, even if the plot is totaly alien to all her other books, they are always set in the same universe (i believe), so you can find hints of her other stories in this book, even though it has nothing to do with them. it's like, if you have read any of her other books, you have a sort of pre-disposition to her other books, because the basic seing element is always the same. that's what i love about this, and all of her other books.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Fun Story
I had a good time reading A Charmed Life and the Lives of Christopher Chant.I didn't realize it was two books (it was a gift) until I got pretty far into the first book.I enjoyed the plots of both books.It has clever use of magic, interesting characters, and many parallel universes.I did have a hard time connecting with characters which is the only reason I give this book four stars. I'm going to hold onto this in hopes that my two daughters will want to read this in the future.I'll be looking for the second volume of Chrestomanci soon.

2-0 out of 5 stars Nothing like the Harry Potter series.
If you love the Harry Potter series, this is NOT the books for you. I was looking for a similar series, when I happened across this series. The reviews for the this book on Amazon, I now realize are misleading. Besides magic, this is totally different than the HP series. The chronicles of Chrestomanci is really a set of almost unrelated stories loosely connected by the person holding the chrestomanci title. I have read The first three books and two were utterly boring. I really only enjoyed charmed life. I was unable to ever get attached to any characters because they change from book to book. Also there seems to be no overall plot that connected each book. I thought that this was a poor comparison to Harry Potter, which is far beyond better than the Chronicles of Chrestomanci. If you are looking for a similar series to Harry Potter, look elsewhere.

3-0 out of 5 stars very imaginative, but often annoying
Dianna Wynne Jones is wonderfully imaginative, and knows how to keep her story moving along with an active plot. her characters are cardboard thin, and you don't really care much about any of them.

I am surprised there are some readers who put her in same league as harry potter. She does not have the genius of Rowling's Harry Potter Stories, nor the humor, nor the good nature, nor the fun characters, nor the great magic, nor the fun school, nor the great saga of good vs. evil.these chrestomanci books are enjoyable, but they are also extremely irritating, because she has a weak grasp on one of the basic building blocks of a good story - a main character you enjoy identifying with.

Both of the novels in this volume have the same theme (which is a bit tedious even the first time): the hero is young and innocent and lonely, doesn't understand what is going on, and is manipulated and almost killed by an unscrupulous, evil relative.In each case, the villain is a selfish relative, not a figure of great evil endangering the world as in Harry Potter or in Tolkein.I didn't really care for this so much.it's not pleasant to see a little, lonely kid manipulated by someone he trusts and wants to love him.it's sort of a creepy theme.

i'd rather have harry potter, where there are good people who are kind and loyal, and teh selfish people are clearly what they are, and Harry is smart enough to see who is who.I don't know why Diana Wynne Jones thinks its fun to have a hero who can't tell good from selfish, or even good from evil, and who does quite wicked things himself out of innocence.and her good people are often so cold hearted and self involved, they mistreat our lonely little hero almost as badly as the wicked people.again, it's kind of creepyl

Dianna Wynne Jone's heros are fun because they can do a lot of magic, but they are not fun because they are idiots through most of the plot, not understanding what is going on, and not having a developed moral sense.Wynne Jones seems to think the big fun in reading is that you the reader are mystified as to what is going on for long stretches (vol 1) because she the author has not explained what is going on till the very end.This is not actually that much fun, it is annoying and stupid.She keeps you going anyway with all the action and imaginative events, but the basic approach is poor. being clueless becasue the author is purposefully not letting you know what is going on and then, big surprise at the end, she explains everything in one scene, is not a fun kind of mystery, where you and hero understand teh general framework and are trying to figure something out.here there is not figuring.

Then in the second book, we the reader realize what is going on, butthe main character, the little boy, is too young and naive to understand the events he is caught up in.I don't enjoy at all looking over the character's shoulder and feeling frustrated that he is being used, endangered and even doing evil things himself without his realizing it.it is the opposite of being a hero.I like my heros more like Tolkein's or like Harry Potter - they are confronted with problems and mysteries, which they are actively trying to solve.they are not clueless idiots because of being too young and lonely to understand.and they can tell right from wrong, and would never dream of helping a nasty person do wrong things out of loyalty.

it tells you how desparate I am for another good fantasy book that i am giving this three stars.the good parts are good, and outweigh the bad, although the bad parts are truly annoying.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding fantasy books, fresh approach to magic and well written.
I found this book listed on the internet in a blog about books to read if you were suffering from Harry Potter withdrawals.

Well, I wasn't - but I was still interested in good fantasy fiction.So I gave this one a try and was very pleasantly surprised.

A couple of warnings for those of you who are [..........]about reading in order - the second book in this two book compilation actually takes place before the first one.It doesn't hurt to read them out of order, and in some cases may actually read better as you learn about Christopher Chant and how he became the person he is in Charmed Life.If you are really uptight about it, then read the second story first.But I think you are better off reading them in the order they appear in the book.

The Chrestomanchi series focuses on special people who have 9 lives and strong magical powers.They take the title Chrestomanchi and their job is to use their 9 lives and the special magical powers to make sure that people in their world do not abuse magic.

There are many worlds and some people that can travel among the different worlds and bring powerful (and illegal) things like dragon's blood back with them - these things must be regulated and policed to make sure that people with magical powers who mean ill are not able to run roughshod over the world.

Unlike Harry Potter, which is one book after another of Harry being pursued by Voldemort and no one believing him or Dumbledore and the same plot lines one after another, the Chrestomanchi series is inventive and different from book to book.I highly recommend it - and as you can see from the other reviewers, I am not alone. ... Read more

14. House of Many Ways
by Diana Wynne Jones
Paperback: 432 Pages (2009-06-01)
list price: US$8.99 -- used & new: US$3.83
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0061477974
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review


The sequel to Howl's Moving Castle

When Charmain Baker agreed to look after her great-uncle's house, she thought she was getting blissful, parent-free time to read. She didn't realize that the house bent space and time, and she did not expect to become responsible for an extremely magical stray dog and a muddled young apprentice wizard. Now, somehow, she's been targeted by a terrifying creature called a lubbock, too, and become central to the king's urgent search for the fabled Elfgift that will save the country. The king is so desperate to find the Elfgift, he's called in an intimidating sorceress named Sophie to help. And where Sophie is, the great Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer won't be far behind. How did respectable Charmain end up in such a mess, and how will she get herself out of it?

... Read more

Customer Reviews (39)

5-0 out of 5 stars great!
great condition and super fast delivery. plus it's a fantastic book, almost finished with it!

5-0 out of 5 stars delightful
Just a little short of "The Little Prince" or "Pinocchio" this wonderful little book has the uncomparable charm of those works written for kids but capable to address adults as well.

The writing is neat, precise, orderly, just like the world of little Charmain, the book's flawed main character. The plot is simple but not dull and moves forward convincingly and easily in a fairy tale world left undescribed -which is very good- but self evident and vivid in the reader's imagination which is even better.
All the characters are believable and have something to teach to everyone but with a splendid lightness of touch.

I would heartily recommend this novel to everyone: though it belongs to the Howl's series it can also be read as a standalone.

5-0 out of 5 stars What about the first two?
After watching the film adaption I read this sequel without realizing there was a first two! While I throughly enjoyed House of Many Ways, it's very disappointing to not find the first two on kindle format. Surprisingly, the first two are very hard to find in bookstores and libraries. I only hope HaperCollins realizes its mistake soon.

Overall a lovely book, I only wish I had easier access to the first two in th series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Great YA from Jones!
Charmain Baker has been brought up to be a "respectable" young woman by her mother, which means she has no experience with housework, real life, or that most vulgar and low-class of things: magic. Her great-uncle William, however, just so happens to be the Royal Wizard of High Norland, and after falling ill, calls in Charmain to look after his tiny cottage and his even tinier dog, Waif, while he is off with the elves, being treated for his mysterious sickness.

Charmain soon realizes that Great-Uncle William's tiny little cottage is more magical than it originally seemed-for instance, in in order to get to the bathroom from the living room, one must open the door between the living room and kitchen, and immediately take a sharp left into the doorframe. Other hidden parts of the house are connected to the past, and one hallway leads directly to the Royal Mansion where the King and Princess live. A magical house with doors that lead mysterious places might sound a little familiar to fans of Diana Wynne Jones' writing, with good reason, as the characters of Howl's Moving Castle (Sophie, Calcifer, and Howl himself as well as a new addition to their family) make a decent cameo and are heavily involved in the plot.

The plot reveals itself as Charmain slowly finds out that not all is well in her country of High Norland-a disgusting and extremely dangerous creature called the Lubbock prowls the meadows outside town, and for some reason the gold in the Royal Treasury keeps disappearing. The King has become so poor that he must sell of many of the royal portraits and pictures that used to line the hallways of the Royal Mansion. Sophie, a famous witch, has been called in to help solve the problem, and she brings with her Calcifer the fire demon, her son Morgan, and a small, beautifully angelic, golden-haired boy who calls himself "Twinkle" and claims that "Thophie ith my auntie."

I have really liked Diana Wynne Jones' writing every since I first picked up her books in elementary school, and House of Many Ways was a great example of her storytelling. There was adventure, mystery, magic, and a good amount of humor when Sophie and her family showed up. I really identified with Charmain as her favorite activities are reading and eating-me too. But in the beginning I actually didn't like her all that much, which I think the author may have done on purpose...? She is a little spoiled, a little lazy-but I believe most of it comes from having such a sheltered lifestyle.

Great, fun read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fine Sequel to Howl's Moving Castle
The disappointment is that Howl, Calcifer and Sophie are not the stars of this book. The pleasure is that the new characters, Charmain, Peter and Waif are unique characters in their own right and not rehashes of successful predecessors. I Love Uncle William's house. I love how much more there is to Sophie's world beyond Market Chipping in Ingary. I'm looking forward to my next visit. ... Read more

15. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 2: The Magicians of Caprona / Witch Week
by Diana Wynne Jones
Mass Market Paperback: 560 Pages (2001-01-31)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.22
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0064472698
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

In this multiple parallel universes of the Twelve Related Worlds, only an enchanter with nine lives is powerful enough to control the rampant misuse of magic -- and to hold the title Chrestomanci...

There is a world in which the peaceful city-state of Caprona is threatened by the malevolent machinations of a mysterious enchanter...and another in which magic is outlawed and witches are still burned at the stake.

In two worlds the practice of magic has gone dangerously awry, there is only one solution -- call upon the Chrestomanci.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars An excellent Book
Diana Wynne Jones' novel, the Chronicles of Chrestomanci, is truly an amzing book. It contains two books, The Magicians of Caprona and Witch Week. These two books are excellent and are comparable to the Harry Potter series. With many twists and turns, Diana successfuly weaves a plot that captures the reader's attention.
The Magicians of Caprona is set in a made-up city-state in Italy called Caprona. There, there are two feuding families of famous spell-makers. As war threatens and betrayals unfold, the very existence of Caprona is hanging by a thin line. But can the two families get over their feud and work together to save Caprona? This novel is a page turner and I could not put the book down.
The second book in the volume is Witch Week. Witch Week is set in a boarding school in England where witches are burned and killed indiscriminately. Here, there is a class that faces a problem on a worldly scale. After many isssus, the Chrestomanci comes. But with such a great problem, maybe the Chrestomanci may not be able to solve it.
These two novels have been great to read and I recommend this book to anyone.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Sequel is my son's favorite
We first heard of Diana Wynne Jones through the animated Japanese film, "Howl's Moving Castle."That film is excellent.But her books are so much better.I have not liked all her books, but the Chrestomanci volumes one and two are superb.This book was my 16 year old son's favorite of the series.

4-0 out of 5 stars Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol 2
it was not as good as the first book, but I enjoyed it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wow....
I bought both Castle in the air and witch week from a bookshop some time ago, and have really enjoyed them. I thought CITA was not the best it could be, but witch week definetly was one of the best books i've ever read. The charcters are well developed, the pace is good and it's nice to get into the minds of the main characters. Altogether, something that could probably rival Harry Potter.

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting
The Chronicles of Chrestomanci is another good series by Diana Wynne Jones. Jones's books aren't as good as some recent reads like The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches, but they are good books and interesting. This book is a 2-in-1 with The Magicians of Caprona and Witch Week. The previous volume has Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant. Altogether worth a read. ... Read more

16. Witch's Business
by Diana Wynne Jones
Paperback: 224 Pages (2004-02)
list price: US$5.99
Isbn: 0060087846
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

They're in the revenge business!

Jess and Frank's father has stopped their allowances for four whole months! That means that Jess can't go anywhere or do anything with her friends. Worse yet, Frank owes money to Buster Knell, the bully. How can Jess and Frank earn some cash -- fast?

By starting a business, Own Back, Ltd. It specializes in revenge, which every kid needs to seek at some time, they figure. Most don't have the courage themselves. But Jess and Frank do -- for a price!

Lots of clients show up. But Jess and Frank soon discover that the revenge business can be pretty complicated, especially when it turns out that there's another one in town -- owned by Biddy Iremonger, the fiercely competitive local witch!

... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant little kids' book
A brilliant kids book (and I mean little kids, not young adults... I wouldn't necessarily recommend this for anyone above 12 years old), Diana Wynne Jones draws upon classic fairy tales such as Puss In Boots to put together a charming story told by a master storyteller. DWJ's books stand out not just for their great plot, but also for their language. Just because the story line is watered down for younger readers (or listeners, in my son's case), her writing is at the top of its game.

American readers might be a bit thrown by some of the British-slang... possibly of DWJ's own invention. Not being British, I'm not sure. For example, "Get Your Own Back" is an important phrase in the book which appears to mean "get even" or "get revenge." Likewise one of the major characters in the book is a big cusser, but his foul language tends to be along the lines of "zombie burger" or "slime puke." He also doesn't really repeat himself, so it's unlikely your child is going to walk around using any of these phrases to color his language... and even if he did, I don't think anyone would mind!

3-0 out of 5 stars Not quite the peak of her talent
"Witch's Business" (also called "Wilkens' Tooth") is one of Diana Wynne Jones's first published books, and it shows. While those with no knowledge of what comes later in this gifted author's realm of witches, wizards and magic will find this book a pleasant read, those who are already initiated and know what the word "Chrestomanci" means and how a Castle manages to move about a countryside might be a tad disappointed.

Short on pocket money, Frank and Jess decide to open a business known as Own Back, in which they seek revenge on past wrongs for their clients. Secretly they hope to find a way to punish the neighbourhood bully Buster Knell, and so it is a grim task when they find he is their first client. His demand? That they remove a tooth from Vernon Wilkins, the large boy that did the same to him. But this job goes horribly wrong when a simple tooth creates more unwelcome employment for them: two strange little girls who want their house back, Buster Knell's entire gang, and even the strange Biddy Iremonger, who is certainly a witch!

Components of Wynne Jones's style is still intact - her quirky way of speaking (newcomers might be confused at the quite literal 'colouful language' that Buster uses) and her intricate melding of several plots and people. But I feel that had she written it today, there would have been deeper reasoning behind Biddy's revenge tactics, more Own Back business for Frank and Jess, an explanation behind the "good eyes" that Jess is given, and a more sophisicated plot for finally getting rid of the evil witch. However, "Witch's Business" is humourous, interesting, and serious enough for Wynne Jones fans to enjoy and compare with her later books (I saw touches of "Time of the Ghost" and "Black Maria" in the plot) and just as good for new readers to find a new favourite author. They're the lucky ones, gifted with the knowledge that from here, Wynne Jones's work just gets better!

3-0 out of 5 stars Early but sprightly
Diana Wynne-Jones' first book, "Witch's Business" (originally title "Wilkins's Tooth," admittedly a more appropriate but weird title) comes back into print in the US at last. It has flaws more pronounced than Jones' later books, but is still an entertaining fantasy with hints of her present greatness.

Frank and Jess's dad stops their pocket money when they accidently break a chair. Desperate for money (especially since Frank owes the vicious bully Buster Knell), they begin "Own Back Limited." Their first customer? Buster and his gang. Buster has had a tooth knocked out by Vernon Wilkins, and wants the Own Back kids to knock out one of Vernon's, as payment for Frank's debt. When they tell Vernon, he gets a baby tooth from his little brother (so it's still "Wilkins' tooth"), and all seems to be right with the world at first.

The problem is that soon a pair of peculiar little girls insist that the Own Back kids do something nasty to Biddy Iremonger, a weird old lady -- because they say she put a spell on the younger girl. At first Frank and Jess won't. But when Vernon's little brother becomes horribly ill, they discover that Biddy really IS a witch. And what's more, she's not too pleased about their little business...

This was Jones' first book, and it shows. There are some problems that were ironed out in her later novels, but there is also a sprightly unself-conscious quality to it. She builds up the menace of Biddy, making you wonder if she really is a witch at first, then revealing it in a matter-of-fact way that makes you feel almost as shocked as Jess and Frank.

Unfortunately, there are some distracting parts of the book -- the G-rated profanity of the bullies ("eyesballs in salsa"?) isn't particularly convincing. And the animosity of some of the characters is sort of brushed away and not really dealt with again again. And the supporting cast aren't as well-defined as her later characters are; they tend to blur together at times.

Frank and Jess are acceptable lead characters -- they seem a little too alike at times, although they become much more different by the last part of the book. Buster is a by-the-book bully, but one who thankfully is somewhat redeemed. Vernon is a likable guy, and Frankie, Jenny and Martin are somewhat more anemic.

Despite its flaws, "Witch's Business" is still a clever little fantasy mystery with plenty of weird magic, persistent British preteens, and a humorous finale.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Early DWJ Title
From the previous review I think this was the book published in the UK as Wilkins Tooth. It's a fun story about two children who run a 'Revenge Service' to make some pocket money. As you would expect in a childrens bookthe scheme backfires.It reminds me of 'Ogre Downstairs' as it's set in anapparently normal town where extra ordinary events occur. I'm not sure whyit's been out of print for so long; many of the issues surrounding somebullies in the story could be helpful to schools today.

4-0 out of 5 stars DWJ's first book; not her best but pretty good
Two children start a "revenge" business to make pocket money, unaware that a real-life witch is already running such a business and doesn't appreciate the competition.This is Diana Wynne Jones' first book,and most of the elements of her style are clearly evident.While itdoesn't compare to "Charmed Life" or "The Nine Lives ofChristopher Chant," it's a fairly good read. ... Read more

17. Howl's Moving Castle
by Diana Wynne Jones
Paperback: 448 Pages (2008-05-01)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$3.77
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0061478784
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review


Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (248)

4-0 out of 5 stars Slow at first and sometimes confusing, but thoroughly enjoyable.
First, let me my inform you, you being whomever is reading this, that I originally watched the movie before reading the book. I watched Howl's Moving Castle film a countless number of times so I finally picked up the book. I realize now that my confusion about the different portals in the castle was cut drastically because the movie visually explained it so well. When I recommended it to my mother she said she was completely confused about the different portals. I tried to explain and didn't explain it well. I decided it was time for her to the watch the movie. While we were watching the movie I saw a light bulb go on above her head. Therefore, I recommend watching the movie first.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and read it through in under 24 hours although, I kind of had to push thorough the first pages, which was mostly expository writing.

These two different medias in which the story is published can both stand alone because both have individual merit. I recommend both, but you don't have to and I can guarantee you will enjoy both either individually or together.

5-0 out of 5 stars Delightful
Howl's Moving Castle may have originally been intended for the young teenage set, but my great-granddaughter is almost 24 and madly in love with the book. She saw the Hiyao Miyazaki movie first, then read the book at our local library. She's now read her own copy at least 15 times since we bought it and she falls more and more in love with Howl, Sophie, Michael, and Calcifer every time. This book is a terrific read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Howl's Moving Castle
I had originally seen the movie by Hayao Miyazaki and hadn't even realized that there was a book.I stumbled across it quite by accident and of course had to read it.I have to say, I was pretty pleased with it.Even with my preconceived notions from the movie, I still enjoyed the plot and all the characters in the book.

Sophie is the oldest of three girls, and in her world, that means she's due to live an uneventful unlucky life.When a tough break with a witch leaves her looking like an old woman, she leaves the hat shop where she works and wanders, eventually coming upon Howl's Moving Castle.While she's heard horrible things about Howl and young women, she figures since she is old now she should be safe.

While staying with Howl she learns some of his secrets and makes friends with Calcifer, a fire demon who is bound to Howl and runs the castle.Along with Michael, his apprentice, Howl has turned this castle into quite the wondrous place. Sophie agrees to help Calcifer in return for his help and becomes Howl's cleaning lady. But will Sophie be able to get back to normal and help Howl with his own problems?There is an evil witch after him and the King wants his help in finding his brother; he may not have the time to return Sophie to normal.

The characters in this novel are pretty delightful.I especially love Calcifer.Even though he may just be fire, he's got quite the personality.Sophie and Howl have interesting interactions and its easy to see that despite their annoyances, they like bantering with each other.Even the side characters show some interesting traits; after all, this is a world that accepts magic.

The writing, since this is technically a kid's book is on the side of easier to understand. There's not a lot of hard language or concepts in the book.I will say that towards the end of the book the writing gets rushed and hard to follow.I had really enjoyed the book up until that part but I found myself reading in patches near the end just so I could try to make sense of what was going on.I think if Jones had just slowed down and detailed a bit more it would have vastly improved it.Despite the confusion at the end, I'm sure this would make a great book to read to a child.

Such a wondrous imaginative book though.I did enjoy it for the most part.I know Jones has some other novels out that have been made into movies and I'll probably look into reading them since I enjoyed this one.

Howl's Moving Castle
Copyright 1986
212 pages

5-0 out of 5 stars Pleasant surprise
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but I loved it. I had a hard time putting it down to go to sleep.

4-0 out of 5 stars My first Wynne Jones
I enjoyed the movie adaptation of this story when I saw it a year ago or so and as is usually the case, the book is better. In fact, they're almost two entirely different stories. The movie maintains the basic characterization and some of the plot points, but it changes other things fairly dramatically. I really enjoyed this story even though I kept hearing the actors' voices from the movie, which I don't think are necessarily fitting for the characters as they exist in the book.

I found the characters well drawn and believable even though they remained basically static through most of the story. I also loved the idea of the moving castle and what that would enable those who lived in it to do.

This was the first of Jones' novels that I've read and I am definitely open to reading others. ... Read more

18. The Spellcoats (Dalemark Quartet)
by Diana Wynne Jones
Paperback: 256 Pages (2003-02-06)
list price: US$9.48 -- used & new: US$6.29
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0192752804
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Tanaqui, and her brothers and sister, are left alone to fend for themselves.But the people in the village turn against them.They must flee their home and begin a terrifying journey to the sea. BLDiana Wynne Jones is recognized as being one of the most outstanding writers of fantasy in recent times. BLThe Dalemark Quartet books are for good readers who have enjoyed the Christopher Chant books by the same author.The books contain the same ability to immerse the reader with real child characters having magical adventures in an imaginary world. BLThis genre of fantasy writing is currently very popular due to the success of the recent 'Lord of the Rings' film. BLDiana Wynne Jones has won the Guardian Award for fiction and has written over twenty novels in less than twenty years. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Wynne Jones' Best
This is not only the best of the books in this series but likely the best book that Wynne Jones has written, though the unusually imaginative Dogsbody is a close second.The style of the book is quite different from the straightforward prose and sometimes joky style of many of her books.This is a deliberate and very successful attempt to emulate myths.The style of writing is allusive, occasionally to the point of obscurity, but it also contains some of her best prose.This is simultaneously a historical myth and also a myth about the origin of the pantheon of Dalemark.This is not a stand alone book.You have to read the prior books in this series for it to be sensible.This book requires a bit more effort than Wynne Jones' other books but the extra effort is worthwhile.

3-0 out of 5 stars I was dissapointed...
I guess it really depends on what kind of books you like, but I was dissapointed. If you are the type of person who likes fast-paced books, you should not read this book. Although the last 2 in this series were really good, this one was too slow for my tastes, and I'm sure it would seem slow to other people, too.

3-0 out of 5 stars Stilted, Slow and Unsatisfying
I usually enjoy Diana Wynne Jones, but this book did not appeal to me at all.It's not because it's slow necessarily, but for a number of other reasons which I'll explain below:

1. The narrative tries to be closer to myth than magic.I don't mind this perspective, but it needs to be carried off and feel "deeper" to convince me.In this book, Ms. Jones tries to slow the pace and bring out the mythic aspects.I just wasn't convinced.Just because she tells me I'm supposed to have awe of the "undying" or feel something deep when pseudo-gods (who are also relatives) keep popping up doesn't make it happen for me.She tries to make things seem old-timey/mythological by using awkward diction and grammatical structures.It just seemed awkward, not profound. She has to do better to get me to believe this is some real kind of creation myth.

2. The river-travel parts (most of the book) seemed like more of the same after a while.I got tired of the floating downriver or paddling upriver while the characters were trying to survive.There didn't seem to be a lot of plot going on, so all you can concentrate on is the style--which isn't my favorite.There's less humor, but that doesn't make it automatically deep.

3. The climax of the book just leaves you hanging.She tries to convince the reader (rather inconsistently) that the story is being woven into two coats by one of the characters.It seemed a silly conceit to me since she sometimes plays up the conceit and sometimes seems to forget to write using the conceit--rather like a bad actor that drifts in and out of a foreign accent that they obviously don't have.At the end she just abruptly stops the story because the main character has supposedly finished weaving her coat. It seems more like the main character ran out of thread and just stopped.Then there is some dumb postscript about archeologists finding the coats and how they all represent various mythological figures in their world.Any payoff was missing.

It's not a horrible book, but one of the least solid I think she's ever written. If you're easily convinced that something is deep just because it's stilted and awkward, you might like it, though.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best in Series
I love this book! I think it is the best of the Dalemark Quartet.

This is from the viewpoint of a girl, second youngest in her family. Her country goes to war. When the people of her village return from battle, they inform the children that they look exactly like Heathens, the people with whom they were at war.

When their village turns against them, the children must look to their Undying for help.

Totally awsome book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, magical, breathtaking...but not for most children
When I first began this book (many years ago) I found it confusing at best, and terribly boring at worst. I recently picked it up at my local bookstore by chance over the summer and decided to give it another try, thinking it would pass the time before I returned to college. I found myself enchanted from the first page. The story (as others have mentioned) follows Tanaqui and her siblings as they travel down the River until their final confrontation with the evil Kankredin. As a child I couldn't really appreciate the humor and subtle narrative skill found in Diana Wynne Jones's writing. If you allow yourself to delve into the book, though, the words wash over you like the river in the novel and you become immersed in the world Ms. Jones has created. Just be warned, the narrative style is first person limited and the story itself is unlike most in contemporary youth fiction. It isn't as fast paced as most youth novels today, so if your children are looking for something with a lot of action, stick to Harry Potter. Even so, this book absolutely begs to be read aloud before bedtime, so give it a try and if the kids don't like it, read it yourself! The style and pacing take some getting used to, but this novel is absolutely worth the effort. Though appropriate for all ages, I think this book can be best appreciated by adults (both young and old). ... Read more

19. The Merlin Conspiracy
by Diana Wynne Jones
Paperback: 480 Pages (2004-05-01)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$3.78
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0060523204
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review


When the Merlin of Blest dies, everyone thinks it's a natural death. But Roddy and Grundo, two children traveling with the Royal Court, soon discover the truth. The Merlin's replacement and other courtiers are scheming to steal the magic of Blest for their own purposes.

Roddy enlists the help of Nick, a boy from another world, and the three turn to their own impressive powers. The dangers are great, and if Roddy, Grundo, and Nick cannot stop the conspirators, the results will be more dreadful than they could possibly imagine.

Amazon.com Review
Master fantasist Diana Wynne Jones--author of the Chrestomanci books, Dark Lord of Derkholm, Year of the Griffin, and many others--scores another winner in this absorbing tale of magic and courtly intrigue told in two voices. In the world called Islands of the Blest, Roddy is a young page who has grown up traveling with her family in the King’s Progress, a constant journey around the kingdom. Just after she and her younger friend Grundo spot a growing conspiracy to overthrow the King and change the balance of magic, they are whisked away to visit Roddy’s grim and silent grandfather; when they return the Progress has moved on without them. Meanwhile in another world, Nick Mallory, 14, blunders into a dreamlike adventure that leads him to the powerful wizard Romanov and involves him in Roddy’s mission to save the worlds from the upset planned by the conspiracy. The story moves through several precariously linked worlds in vividly imagined episodes told alternately by Roddy and Nick, as their journeys begin to mesh. Part of the fun for the reader is sorting out Roddy’s many wizardly relatives from the double perspective and clicking them into place in the plot. Wynne Jones's many fans will pounce on this complex but fast-moving fantasy that features not only 34 characters, but a panther, a goat, a dragon, and an extremely charming elephant. (Ages 10 to 14) --Patty Campbell ... Read more

Customer Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars this is not a love song
DWJ, unlike many other writers of fantasy, does not usually do series. One of her best points is her originality; as if her mind were too restless to simply continue with the same characters in the same story.The Chrestomanci series is really several books that take place in different times and worlds and only relate in that Chrestomanci appears somewhere within, sometimes very briefly.Likewise, The Merlin Conspiracy is so distantly related to the earlier book Dark Secrets, that I only realised the same Nick was in each when I was talking to someone who had read Dark Secrets more recently than I had.It was the sleepwalking that tipped us off.The Merlin Conspiracy is one of my favorite DWJ novels.Of course it is confusing when you first start reading!That is part of the fun.DWJ does not feed you pabulum, you have to actually use your brain and scramble a bit to make out where you are and what is happening.As for boring, well, she is not trying to emulate Dan Brown with a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter.Part of the interest is in putting the puzzle together, not in passively watching a chase scene or a fight.It bears keeping in mind that Dark Secrets is aimed at a slightly older audience than Merlin Conspiracy.The jokes in Dark Secrets may have to do with transvestite parents, while the annoying twins in Merlin Conspiracy exhibit well-observed traits of seven year old girls. My gratitude to DWJ for writing this book and long may she create her worlds and people.

2-0 out of 5 stars NOT up to her usual standards
I've got to start by stating that Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite authors - I love most of her books. But I was very disappointed in this one. The best description I can come up with is "confusing and boring". The characters are uninteresting and the plot uninvolving. Her attempts at humor (usually very adept) fall flat and the whole thing feels incredibly silly. I had to skip long dull sections just to make it 3/4 of the way through the novel before giving up. I hope this isn't a taste of Jones books to come.

2-0 out of 5 stars THE MERLIN CONSPIRACY by Diana Wynne Jones
I have heard from my sources that novels by Diana Wynne Jones are remarkably enjoyable, though very whimsical.When I read The Merlin Conspiracy, I was expecting a lot more than I got.The book, to me, was extremely boring and monotonous.It was very hard to finish, and I had to skip many pages at a time in order to complete it.In my opinion, this book was not an example of an exeptional science-fiction/fantasy book.The Merlin Conspiracy is not a book that I would reccomend to sci-fi/fantasy fans who are expecting a lot from reading this.I would, although, reccomend the Merlin books by T.A. Barron and the Deltora books by Emily Rodda.The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones gets a simple two stars from me.

5-0 out of 5 stars Smashing!
This is one of my favourite Diana Jones books. I think the best part is the amount of charecters in the book. Helga, Mini, London, the white dragon, too-much-to-count terrified and sparking salamaders, a panther and a big cat (?leopard?) and more are only the ones that are not human, and I wouldn't suggest memorising the charecter's names and how they are linked to each other, especially Adrianrhod Hyde, or Roddy's, family.

The story is about a boy named Nicothodes or Nick in Earth who has already travelled through different worlds and wants to go to another one. There is also Adrianrhod (Roddy) who is a daughter of two court wizards and she lives in a place called Blest, which has similarities to England. Roddy and her friend Ambrose Temple/Grundo discover a plot to control all the magic in the multiverse which seems to include the Merlin, the keeper of magic in Blest. The two teenagers stories twine into each other, giving a clear view in every direction. As you go on, the Merlin conspiracy gets deeper and there's a surprise on every page.

Truly reccomended!

2-0 out of 5 stars The Merlin's Scheme
The book is about people with magical talents and they could use them do their jobs. As a person named Roddy has to use his powers for making the weather just right for the King and his arrival to their town. In addition, on that day a person named Merlin had died so they summoned some on else to become the new Merlin. In addition, Roddy and his friend Grundo find out that the new Merlin and Grundo's mother are making a plot against the King. As Roddy thinks, he is dreaming as he goes to another world he really is going another world but does not know that it is real. As they found out, they knew they were the only ones to stop them. But over all I really did not like the book that much. The book to me was boring because nothing really happened. The pert that I liked the most is when Roddy's dad changed the weather because the king was coming to their town.
This book was confusing and just jumps around too much because it jumped back and forth on part and it lost me there. I really thought the book did not have enough action in it so I really got bored on the book. Also, there was not much of anything really happening in the book rather than two people finding out that there are people against the King and they spied on them. But I was not sure about what I should have put as a rating so I put what I thought it should get.
What I thought about the book is that it is confusing because the book jumped around a lot and I lost track to where I was. However, as I read on I was starting to get about what was going on in the book. I liked only about two parts. When they found the Dragon, I thought that was a good part because I like dragons.
... Read more

20. Hexwood
by Diana Wynne Jones
Paperback: 464 Pages (2002-09-01)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$3.42
(price subject to change: see )
Asin: 0064473554
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Strange things happen at Hexwood Farm.

From her window, Ann Stavely watches person after person disappear through the farm's gate -- and never come out again. Later, in the woods nearby, she meets a tormented sorcerer, who seems to have arisen from a centuries-long sleep. But Ann knows she saw him enter the farm just that morning. Meanwhile, time keeps shifting in the woods, where a small boy -- or perhaps a teenager -- has encountered a robot and a dragon. Long before the end of their adventure, the strangeness of Hexwood has spread from Earth right out to the center of the galaxy.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

5-0 out of 5 stars absolute magic from an enchanting writer
In a magical wood, reality and time and identity seems as fluid and changeable as water. There, Ann meets Mordion, a "death-faced" magician and escaped Servant of the five evil Reigners who control the universe. Mordion uses his and Ann's blood to create Hume to defeat the Reigners. Ann and Mordion, though, quickly become fond of Hume and try to give him a normal life, with a robot, Yam, to watch over him. Suddenly, though, they find themselves involved in the intrigue of a castle filled with knights. Only after the Howl books, this is the best of Jones' insanely clever, beautiful fantasy novels. It is an enchanting, mind boggling, twisting, beautiful tale, with a charming love story at the center, and fantastic, fascinating, ambiguous characters (particularly Ann and Mordion). It's Douglas Adams meets King Arthur. Grade: A

4-0 out of 5 stars Fun Fantasy Storytelling (with a little parody on the side)
Diana Wynne Jones is familiar with all the cliches of fantasy writing, and in Hexwood she lampoons them a bit. But she takes advantage of them at the same time and so has crafted a great little fantasy novel. Nothing is quite what it seems in Hexwood. You may have to read it twice before you really get a hold on the storyline! The writing is good and the characters are very likeable. I think this is one of Jones' best novels and a great addition to any fantasy-lover's bookshelf.

4-0 out of 5 stars Sometimes you just have to stop and think about it...
I'm with everyone else, this is by no means meant for younger kids. I don't know why I found it in the Young Adult section. Hexwood was probably the fifteenth Diana Wynne Jones book I read and though it's not one of my favorites, I've gotten use to her bizarre, but elegant writing style. I have to tell you, I'm 22 and this book made me stop and think several times. I feel sorry for any young kid that comes across this.

Just when you think you have something figured out, DWJ throws something else at you. If most of her novels have some astounding twist at the end or close to the end, this one has several.

What I understood, I enjoyed. It was a little slow, but it still demanded attention. I'm thinking I should buy this book (the one I read was from the library) and read it again because I want to make sure I have all the pieces right. But hey, good books demand to be read more than once, right?

Alright, so...you want to get a young adult into DWJ, this book probably isn't the one to use because of how confusing it is. You should go with Howl's Moving Castle or The Chronicles of the Chrestomanci.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Jones at her best, but challenging and interesting
Diana Wynne Jones's Hexwood was marketed as Young Adult book. The packaging implied Fantasy to me, perhaps even horror. What we end up getting is pretty weird, and fairly SFnal. (Sort of like William Sleator's Interstellar Pig is SFnal.) But, it's also dealing with the Matter of Britain -- King Arthur.

Ann is a teenaged (or perhaps barely preteen) girl in a town in England, near a place called Hexwood Farms. She also hears voices in her head -- the voices of four people: the Boy, the King, the Prisoner, and the Slave. While convalescing from an unexplained severe illness she witnesses strange goings on at Hexwood Farms: people entering but never leaving, etc., and once well she tries to sneak a look. Then things get weird ... She raises a strange man from the dead, and somehow the two mix blood and create a boy together. Over an ambiguous amount of time Ann keeps returning to the wood, meeting the boy, called Hume, and the man, called Mordion, at different times in their "lives", separated by years, and randomly arranged chronologically. It quickly becomes clear that Hume and Mordion have a relationship recalling that of Arthur and Merlin in _The Sword in the Stone_. (Especially when Hume pulls a sword from a stone!)

At the same time pretty much we learn that there has been a snafu at a station of the Galactic Empire charged with running the obscure but important primitive planet Earth. It seems a stupid clerk has activated a machine called the Bannus which has power to manipulate reality. It is necessary for one of the five "Reigners" who rule the Galaxy to travel to Earth to fix it. However, each "Reigner" seems to meet with unexpected trouble on Earth, and the other Reigners keep following. In the process we learn that the Reigners are vile despots, that there is a resistance movement of sorts, and that they employ a Servant who is somehow related to a previous (good) Reigner as their enforcer.

That all these events and characters are connected is clear. As the story continues, the relationships become fairly clear, and events move towards a climax involving the Mordion and Hume, Ann and her alter ego, Ann's four "voices", the five Reigners, and lots more characters, some real, some not, many taking on multiple roles under the influence of the Bannus.

It's a reasonably enjoyable book to read but in the end I found it a little frustrating. Perhaps I was simply too dense to get it, but I found the playing with reality and time to some extent simply self-indulgent, and the reality manipulation a bit too arbitrary. I'm glad I read it, but I don't rank it as DWJ at her best.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is not a children's book, really
But then, few of Diana Wynne Jones's enchanting, multi-layered fictions ever were.I read some of her work when I was eleven or twelve, and I couldn't make head or tail of it.And I wasn't exactly a slow child: testing in kindergarten diagnosed my reading level as collegiate.I'm in my twenties now, and she's one of my two current favorite authors along with Roger Zelazny.I don't know why her books are still almost exclusively marketed to the YA crowd.Some combination, I'm guessing, of an adult fantasy market not in the mood for much that's new or different, and child characters/ simplicity of language.

The simplicity of language is a great quality in this context -- I don't think I've seen a book 'for adults' that matches this degree of complexity and manages to hang it all together so well. To truly enjoy this one, you have to come prepared for it.Be ready to connect the dots without any numbers to guide you along.(Well, a few numbers, but they're well-disguised.)

If Hexwood were a video game, I'd have been referring to the walkthrough regularly.Read very carefully, ask yourself at every turn who you think this character or that might be and what the last tantalizing piece of evidence to drop tells you about the story.

I did so -- seeing clearly in the first few pages that I would have to -- and, as usual, the finale blew me away.Heck, draw a map of characters as you go, if you're the visual type.The marvelous resolution is worth the effort. ... Read more

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