BooksOfTheMoon

Hexwood

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

Archer’s Goon

By Diana Wynne Jones

Rating: 4 stars

Howard comes home one evening to find the Goon sitting in the kitchen, demanding the two thousand that are owed by Howard’s dad. Over the next few weeks, Howard and his whole family start getting involved in what seems to be a giant conspiracy by a family of very powerful people. It’s up to Howard, doubtfully aided by his sister, Awful, and the Goon, to figure out what’s going on and sort it out.

I enjoyed this YA fantasy novel, with the seven siblings who ‘farm’ the town that Howard and his family live in, looking after different aspects of the town’s infrastructure and civil society. Howard is a good protagonist, and Awful is as amusingly bad as her nickname suggests. The ‘farmers’ are grotesque in their own different ways, with music being played, gas and electricity being cut off, roads being dug up and more to try and get the two thousand from Howard’s dad.

A fun story, and it’s got a decent conclusion and ending as well, something that Jones sometimes struggles with, in my experience.

Book details

ISBN: 9780416622805
Publisher: Methuen Children's
Year of publication: 1984

Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle, #1)

By Diana Wynne Jones

Rating: 4 stars

This is a reread so I’ll reuse my previous review from the wiki: “The young heroine (Sophie) gets turned into an old woman by the Witch of the Waste and eventually makes her way to the moving castle owned by the dreaded wizard Howl, where she inspires her own dread by instating herself as the cleaning lady, while she tries to break the spell. This is an excellent book with likable characters and a plot that makes sense (unlike the film). Well worth a read (or two).”

Book details

Publisher: HarperCollins
Year of publication: 1986

Cart and Cwidder (The Dalemark Quartet, #1)

By Diana Wynne Jones

Rating: 4 stars

Moril is a young boy who plays a stringed instrument called the cwidder in a family of travelling musicians, but when he is caught in a web of politics and murder he must discover the secret of his family’s ancient cwidder passed down the generations and his own magic.

This is a fairly slow book to get going and the action happens mostly in the last quarter but it’s also enjoyable, sketching a world in more detail than you would expect from this slim children’s volume. The characters, including Moril, his sister Brid and Kialan, the young man the family picks up to take north with them, are all interesting characters and the whole story has more depth than I’d really expect in what appears, at first glance, to be a simple children’s book. An enjoyable read but it doesn’t immediately make me jump up and down to find the sequels.

Book details

ISBN: 9780192752796
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year of publication: 1975

The Tough Guide To Fantasyland

By Diana Wynne Jones

Rating: 4 stars

This is Jones’ step-by-step guide to surviving if you find yourself in a fantasy world with nothing but a magic sword. Written like a cross between a guide book and a glossary, complete with little icons in the margins and Official Management Terms for the perils you might find in your journey, this is a delightfully witty book that takes a dig at fantasy stereotypes but in a fond sort of way. Good for browsing.

Book details

ISBN: 9780575601062
Publisher: Vista Publishing (MN)
Year of publication: 1996

Castle in the Air (Howl’s Moving Castle, #2)

By Diana Wynne Jones

Rating: 3 stars

A fun little book, being a sort-of sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones doesn’t seem to do ‘real’ sequels) focussing mostly on an entirely different set of characters, but with ones from the previous book popping up towards the end. I enjoyed it, although I do think that it laid on the Arabian stereotypes a little heavy.

Book details

ISBN: 9780006755302
Publisher: HarperCollins Children'sBooks
Year of publication: 1990

Powered by WordPress