Book Review: Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

14 Mar

I finished this days ago and have been super lazy with my blog posts–apologies.

When Andrew Hope inherits his grandfather’s field of care, he doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into. It’s much more than taking on a crotchety old gardener who dumps tasteless vegetables into his arms each day; it’s more than an equally crotchety housekeeper who keeps shoving the piano back into its place in a dark corner, and only makes cauliflower cheese for dinner; it’s even bigger than a giant named Groil who eats all those tasteless vegetables after they’re tossed up on the roof, though he has something to do with it. Where it really starts and ends is with Aidan Cain, a boy who shows up on Andrew’s doorstep with things chasing after him, bearing little more than a wallet that can make its own money and a handy magical trick with his glasses. Together with a handful of other quirky characters, they must find out why Aidan is being pursued and how to stop him from being taken by those pursuing him.

Reading this book was bitter-sweet, as it’s one of the last books Diana Wynne Jones–one of my absolute favorite authors–published before she died. I drank up each page knowing that there would be nothing new from her in the years to come. Perhaps that’s why I put of reading it for so long. I feel like awesome authors should be granted an exceptionally long life, if not immortality.

That said, it wasn’t my favorite of hers by a long shot. It did contain all the magic every DWJ novel contains–that quaint, small-town-England, magic is every day and completely accepted, magic. Not only giants and were-dogs and ghosts and fairies, but that small-town feel that makes you feel like you’ve been plopped in the middle of the British Isles and you don’t want to return home. Harry Potter had that, and so did His Dark Materials. I don’t know what it is about Britain, but it’s magical. And DWJ knew that, and she wrote it perfectly.

Her characters are always fantastic, too–full of quirks like those above, completely individual and persistent in their individuality, funny and lovable even at their most annoying, the kind of people you wish you could sit in a room with and just watch with your knuckles tucked into your mouth to keep from laughing. They’re so real you can see them in the room with you. I’m pretty sure Mrs. Stock was based on my grandmother, but don’t tell her I said that.

The magic and the awesome characters are what kept me going. The plot itself dragged a bit for me. I don’t think it was a case of “I’m getting too old for this” either–I didn’t really see where the plot was going for a while, it seemed like mostly it was an exploration of character, which is fine, but a balance does need to be struck. 3/4 of the way through I had trouble keeping focused on what was going on and getting a bit tired of cauliflower cheese.

That isn’t to say that this book isn’t worth a read–like I said, I quite liked different aspects of it, it just didn’t fully come together for me. Besides, it’s Diana Wynne Jones–if you’re a fan, you have to read it!

If you haven’t read any Diana Wynne Jones before, I highly recommend starting with the Chronicles of Chrestomanci (Charmed Life OR The Lives of Christopher Chant first!) or Howl’s Moving Castle. Both of them are awesome and really give you a feel for DWJ. Like I said, she’s one of my favorite authors, and one of those people I think is in the “new children’s classics” category, right up there with Harry Potter.

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  1. 2013: A Year of Reading in Review | More Than One Page - December 26, 2013

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