Monday, 23 January 2012
House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
Title: House of Many Ways
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Series: Howl's Castle
Date Read: January 12th
On TBR for: 83 days
Format: Physical book
Challenges: 2012 Outdo Yourself, Off the Shelf 2012, What's in a Name 5
In the last of the Howl's Castle series of books, we start with Charmain, a bookish 14 year old, who gets volunteered by her great-aunt to take care of her distant great-uncle William's house. Well, magical house. Charmain is a respectable young lady (read: sheltered and spoiled) and, as such, she doesn't know how to do much besides reading a lot, and eating a lot of pasties. That includes washing clothes and dishes, and goes as far as making tea.
Luckily for her, the house is indeed magical, and does provide for her meals, and she has always her Uncle's recorded instructions, that help her navigate around the house and help solve some mishaps. Did I mention it is a magical house? Well, it is. From the outside it looks small, but turn left instead of right at a doorway, and you'll find yourself in a completely different room, or building.
To add to the joy, in comes Peter, great-uncle William's new apprentice that he didn't know about, and who doesn't know his master isn't home. Peter, unlike Charmain, does know how to do things around the house, which should have come as a relief, if he didn't botch every magic attempt. And there were a lot of attempts.
And, as one job isn't good enough for bookwork Charmain, she writes to the King to tell him she would like to help him and his daughter organize the Royal Library. I do understand the girl, of course, a library is such a wonderful place to work when you love books.
But there is something missing here, isn't it? Of course, it would fit the series if Howl and Co. weren't there. And they are. Sophie is helping the King with his financial and magical problems, and Morgan and Calcifer come along, of course. And Howl, because he couldn't bear to be left behind. So he appears in his most adorable form ever (I'm not telling what it is, though it's easy to see when reading the book).
And so, Charmain has some adventures with magic, kobolds and lubbocks, manages not to destroy a house or kill her housemate, while getting herself a puppy.
Did I like this book? Hell, yeah! It was a rollercoaster of fun, but that was to be expected. It's Diana Wynne Jones, after all. But I did like it more than Castle in the Air, probably because of Howl. But Charmain was also a reason – incompetent as she was in household tasks, she is a bookworm, so I can find no fault in her (well, I am able to overlook most faults). I loved reading her adventures and misadventures, and if there was a lot of fun on the Castle scenes with the regular cast, her interactions with Peter were really great.
Had there been more books to this series, I would have read them. As it is, I will treasure these three forever.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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