By Diana Wynne Jones

Rating: 3 stars

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Diana Wynne Jones book, and I’d forgotten how convoluted that her plots could get. This one involves an interstellar empire, a powerful machine called the Bannus, hidden on Earth and turned on when it shouldn’t have been, that draws a web of intrigue around itself, leaving Ann, Mordion and Hume to try and sort it out.

I had to read the first few pages of part two several times over to try and make sense of how it followed on from what had come before. That was what reminded me of Jones’ twisty plots. This one’s quite timey-wimey as well, with time being all over the place, as a side-effect of the field that Bannus creates, meaning that it’s not a book that you can read thoughtlessly. Don’t let the relatively straightforward language, and the youthful protagonist fool you, it might be YA, but you need to keep your wits about you.

I confess that there were bits that did pass me by. I think the book could do with a reread soon after the first read, while it’s still fresh in my mind, but I also don’t think I’ll do that. It might gain from it, but I don’t care enough to go to the effort.

It’s an enjoyable book, as long as you concentrate, with some interesting twists and turns. There is enough of the wider worldbuilding to keep me interested (and wish for more) while the main story is quite tight. Importantly for me, while Jones isn’t always great at endings, this one comes together well at the end.

Book details

ISBN: 9780749718480
Publisher: Mammoth
Year of publication: 1994

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