Tuesday, December 9, 2008

House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones (HarperCollins/Greenwillow, 2008)

Lynn: Full disclosure! Not only would I read ANYTHING Diana Wynne Jones writes but I would read it multiple times. This wonderful new book has all the things I most love about Jones’ writing: eccentric characters, charming humor, magical chaos and that warm sense that we are all in on the fun. Sophie, Howl and Calcifer return for an encore appearance when Sophie is asked to assist in the search for a missing Elfgift and Howl can’t resist crashing the party disguised as a lisping little boy. You’d think other characters wouldn't stand a chance with that trio but Charmain, a spoiled bored teen, holds her own very nicely. Charmain has been raised to be respectable which means that she has no practical skills at all. When she is whisked away by her disapproving aunt to take care of her ill great-uncle’s house, Charmain is horrified to discover that there is no time to read her books! Add the mystifying peculiarities of the wizard’s house, an inept apprentice, an annoying dog, a royal mystery and a really shivery villain and you have Diana Wynne Jones at her best. Charmain wants nothing more than to be left along to read when life gets bothersome and I admit to sharing that yearning. So go ahead and ignore those holiday chores - House of Many Ways is the perfect antidote to seasonal craziness!
Cindy: Howl's Moving Castle is one of my favorite DWJ titles, but readers can start here just fine and go back to the companion novels Howl and Castle in the Air later. I read this title early last spring but still remember the piles of dishes that Charmain faced, the mysteries of the magical house, the organization of her uncle's library, and all the madcap energy of a signature Jones title. I FELT her frustration as she kept getting sidelined from the books she wanted to read. Who has time for household chores when there are good books to be read? Indeed! I was a little let down by Howl's appearance. I had hoped for more antics with young wizard Howl--his toddler transformation was a missed opportunity although I enjoyed the scenes we did get. After you've read these books, check out the Howl's Moving Castle anime film by Hayao Miyazaki. I hope Jones is not finished with this world. I know I'm not!


Sally said...

I really want to read this book, but the problem is that I bought it, and those pesky library books with due dates always end up coming first! Plus I am trying to read all the JHunt books too...I'm a lurker on adbooks and you two are some of my favorite posters. Love the blog! :)

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan said...

I think you should go to the library and borrow HOUSE OF MANY WAYS and then you will be forced to read it before it is due! It really is a good comfort read. Glad you like the blog--we're having fun!--Cindy