One of the greatest fantasy writers of all time, Diana Wynne Jones was a British writer who wrote children and adult fantasy novels. She passed away last March 26th from cancer. Her passing is a great loss to the writing community.
When I heard the news, I was shocked and saddened. I haven’t read all of her books (though I will be combing the library for any available copies) but the ones I’ve read I have truly enjoyed. My particular favorite series is Howl’s Moving Castle and the two companion books, Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways. Jones’ writing is brilliantly witty and the characters are entertaining as well as endearing. When you read Jones’ books, you’ll feel the magic come out of the pages.
For a list of her books, click here.
Blurbs for the Castle series:
In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.
After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.
The Hatter sisters–Sophie, Lettie, and Martha–and all the other girls were all warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.
In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl’s castle? When the final stormy duel with the Witch and the Wizard is finished, all the pieces fall magically into place.
Young merchant Abdullah leads a humble life. Or he did until a stranger sold him a threadbare–and disagreeable–magic carpet. Now Abdullah is caught in the middle of his grand daydreams. Waking one night in a luxurious garden, he meets and falls instantly in love with the beautiful and clever Flower-in-the-Night. But a wicked djinn sweeps the princess away right before Abdullah’s eyes, leaving the young man no choice but to follow. This is no ordinary quest, however, for Flower-in-the-Night isn’t all the djinn has stolen. Abdullah will have the so-called help of the cantankerous carpet, a cranky genie in a bottle, a dishonest soldier, and a very opinionated black cat. Will this motley crew be able to find the djinn’s mysterious dwelling and rescue a castle full of princesses?
When Charmain Baker agreed to look after her great-uncle’s house, she thought she was getting blissful, parent-free time to read. She didn’t realize that the house bent time and space, and she did not expect to become responsible for an extremely magical stray dog and a muddled young apprentice wizard. Now, somehow, she’s been targeted by a terrifying creature called a lubbock, too, and become central to the king’s urgent search for the fabled Elfgift that will save the country. The king is so desperate to find the Elfgift, he’s called in an intimidating sorceress named Sophie to help. And where Sophie is, the great Wizard Howl and the fire demon Calcifer won’t be far behind. How did respectable Charmain end up in such a mess, and how will she get out of it?
Why I Recommend these books:
As I’ve already mentioned above, Diana Wynne Jones’ books are simply magical. They are delightful to read, and you’ll find yourself in one adventure after another. Wizard Howl is extremely arrogant, pompous, and rather immature but he is a funny character and his love for a certain person (won’t spoil it for you) is deeply sincere. There are heartwarming themes that run throughout each novel–love, family, and friendship among others.
I urge you not to miss the opportunity to savor Ms. Jones’ incredible writing. It is fantasy at its very best.