Jones, Diana Wynne. 2008. House of Many Ways. 404 pages.
"Charmain must do it," said Aunt Sempronia.
Who is Charmain? What must she do? Well, she's a young lady who has up til now lived a rather sheltered life. But when she's 'volunteered' by her aunt to look after her Great-Uncle William, who just happens to be a wizard, but not just any old wizard, the Royal Wizard of Norland, she finds herself stepping into a great adventure. William is sick--with what the reader isn't quite sure--and he's off to be healed by the elves. In his absence, Charmain will tend to his house. Of course, Charmain hasn't much experience tending houses--doing dishes, cooking, doing laundry, etc.--and she's even less experienced when it comes to dealing with magic. But William's house is quite magical--with hundreds if not thousands of ongoing charms and spells. Not to mention the large library of magical books. Can Charmain resist experimenting with magic for very long? Charmain, a great lover of books, didn't expect this 'job' to be quite so unusual. But before she even knows what is happening, she finds herself making new friends: there's the playfully mischievous dog, Waif, and the new apprentice Peter...and then there's the royal family itself. You see, tending house isn't quite enough of a job for her...she naively thinks...so she volunteers her services to the royal family as a librarians apprentice. Of course, while there she meets some very interesting characters. (And a few familiar ones as well.)
I liked it. I'm not sure it's quite fair to compare House of Many Ways and Castle in the Air with Howl's Moving Castle. I have found all three to be enjoyable and fun. All are humorously and charmingly written. Of course, the first is probably the most enjoyable. But I enjoy revisiting these characters so much that I'm happy these sequels exist.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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