Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones
|Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Magical mystery galore in this quirky, funny book. Great for those still in mourning over the end of Harry Potter.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: January 2010|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books|
Andrew Hope, a rather woolly professor, learns that his magical grandfather has died, leaving him his house and his field-of-care. Andrew remembers some things from when he was a little boy, such as his grandfather leaving vegetables on the roof of the shed for someone, or something, to eat each night. He also remembers that there is something special about the beautiful, old coloured glass above the kitchen door, but not exactly what that is. It seems he has forgotten a lot of what his grandfather taught him, including the mystery of the field-of-care he has inherited. But with the entrance of Aidan Cain, an orphan, into his house and his life the mysteries deepen. The two are drawn to each other, however, and slowly start to unravel the truth that surrounds them.
I have been meaning to read something by Diana Wynne Jones for a long time but somehow never got round to it, so I jumped at the chance to try this new stand-alone novel. I think the thing I liked most about it were the characters. Andrew seemed an unusual hero for a children's story initially, since he is a middle aged man. It was only with the entrance of Aidan that I saw that there are multiple levels in the story, so younger children will live vicariously through Aidan, and older readers will probably follow Andrew's story.
Along with the house, Andrew inherits two members of staff, Mr and Mrs Stock (not married, or related - almost all the other characters in this small country village seem to have the surname of Stock!) Well anyway, Mr Stock is a rather grumpy gardener, intent on growing the largest vegetables for the village fete, and when crossed by Andrew he finds revenge by presenting him with boxes and boxes of overly large, totally inedible vegetables that Andrew secretly feeds to the mysterious someone/something that comes along each night to eat on the roof of his old shed.
Mrs Stock meanwhile is a dragon of a housekeeper and I think my favourite part of the whole book is with her when Andrew has moved things around in the drawing room, but Mrs Stock spends the whole day putting them back where they 'belong'. They don't exchange any words about the situation, just continue with the moving, so every night Andrew moves all the furniture using magic, and every morning Mrs Stock moves it all back again by hand growing more and more exhausted and frustrated! She expresses her displeasure by making copious amounts of cauliflower cheese for Andrew's dinner!
So, there's lots of humour to be found in the characters, and of course lots of magical ideas. I would have liked some of these ideas to have been explored or explained a little more (I won't go into details on what because I don't want to spoil the story) but the book had a definite feel of being 'to be continued' so perhaps she is saving some of the explanations for a sequel. The balance between the 'real' world and the magical world is very cleverly written. As a reader you're unsure who is magical and who isn't, or what magic they can do, or whether they are good or bad or if the lines between good and bad are even that clear. I think younger readers would enjoy the sense that anyone can do magic, without having to spend years at a magical school.
I dropped a star from the book for a couple of reasons. One was that just occasionally things felt a little rushed somehow. There's a rather hurried, not entirely believable, romance between Andrew and Mr Stock's niece, Stashe, for example that suddenly blunders into existence and jarred a little as I read it. Also, as I mentioned before, I felt there were some things left unanswered, so the ending of the story lacked proper closure for me. But these were really just minor objections to what was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I'm sure it will be very popular amongst her legion of fans, and hopefully will be the start of another series for her.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones at Amazon.com.
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