Monday, December 19, 2011

House of Many Ways
by Diana Wynne Jones

What does it mean to be respectable? In the world of Mr. and Mrs. Baker, it means bringing up your daughter to be a lazy, selfish girl who is unable to do the simplest tasks for herself. I'm talking about the protagonist of House of Many Ways, of course: Charmain Baker. She's assigned to house-sit for her great aunt's uncle while he's away being treated for a mysterious illness. Surviving in his house requres a knowledge of magic Charmain doesn't have; luckily, an apprentice magician arrives to help her with the day-to-day chores, and with unravelling the mystery she's been drawn into. Can Charmain get her nose out of a book in time to save the kingdom?

For Howl and Sophie fans, House of Many Ways features the moving castle crew in a much larger role than in Castle in the Air. I found this book just as engaging as the previous two books; however, I didn't find it as humorous as its predecessors. But as I said, it's still very engaging; I believe I finished it within two or three sittings (one of which was a wonderfully long and hot bath: the best way to enjoy a good book).

I found the idea of the house itself fascinating; it's much more magical than the moving castle, although it doesn't have a fire demon. But still, tapping a stove and saying "breakfast" to get a plate of bacon and eggs--when can I move in? And there are fascinating magical creatures that play important roles in the book, too (lubbocks and kobolds), who add some flair and a sense of otherworldness to the book.

I don't see any resemblance to a well-known folk tale in this particular story (if I'm missing something, please note it in the comments). But, the frame of the story and Diana Wynne Jones's particular writing style continues to mimic classic folk tale structure. I recommend this book to fans of the series, Jones, fairy tales, and any other category of light-hearted, fun writing.

Copy source: library
Genre: fantasy
Format: hardcopy

View my suggested books by Diana Wynne Jones

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