Enchanted Glass Hardcover – Apr 6 2010
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“Jones hits all the bases with her fluid storytelling, trademark sly humor, and exquisitely drawn characters…With this enthralling book, Jones proves that she is still at the top of her game.” (Booklist (starred review))
“An intelligent, refreshing hoot.” (The Horn Book)
“She’s the best children’s writer of the last 40 years. I read her latest book, Enchanted Glass, and marveled once again at how good she is. It’s a tale of magic, double-dealing, subversion, and plot, not to mention giant vegetables and dangerous fairies.” (Neil Gaiman, author of Coraline)
“Irresistible to adventure, humor, and fantasy buffs.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
About the Author
In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones (1934‒2011) wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards—and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter—her books are filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy.
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Top Customer Reviews
Ever since his grandmother died, Andrew has been pursued by the Stalkers. So he heads for Melstone House, the home of a powerful magician who might be able to help him...
... except that the magician has also died, and has left the property to his grandson Andrew, who knows a few things about magic but has forgotten most of it. Andrew just wants to live a peaceful life in the countryside, writing a book and thwarting the hired help. But when he takes in Aidan, he finds that the boy has the same magical skills as he does... and a knack for attracting strange magical beings.
Unfortunately, leaving London hasn't stopped the Stalkers from trying to get their hands on Aidan. And when Andrew attempts to reinforce his "field of care," he finds himself in a turf war with the mysterious Mr. O Brown. As he tries to unravel all the mysteries around Melstone, Andre discovers that all his various magical problems are connected...
Well, if you've read Jones' previous works, then you know the score -- complex plot, magic, plenty of sorcerous talent, a mysterious and sinister antagonist, and a young boy afloat in a difficult world. The he only downside is that the ending is very abrupt. Jones lobs a shocking plot twist at you, and then the book ends. Bam.
Her prose is quirky, warm and has that distinctly British flavor, and she whips up a massive tangle of slightly odd plot threads..Read more ›
Things only get worse when Andrew discovers someone - or something - is trying to take over his property and get to Aiden. Andrew must find a way to keep his land and the boy safe or it could prove disastrous for everyone.
I had a difficult time getting into this book. The concept is good, but the constantly shifting points of view made it hard for me to bond with the main characters. Aiden seemed older and far more mature than a young boy should be, and Andrew seemed distant.
The minor characters were quirky and funny and helped keep me reading. After I got used to the changing points of view, it made reading easier. The more I read, the more things got exciting, so I'm glad I didn't give up.
Reviewed by: Joan Stradling
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
WHY I READ THIS BOOK: Diana Wynne Jones new book! Duh!
WHY I FINISHED READING THIS BOOK: A) Diana Wynne Jones builds her plots masterfully. Think of this book as a wonderful English trifle, layered with light sponge cake, then the custard, fresh berries and a little sweet wine to make it all work together. ENCHANTED GLASS is such an apparently effortless creation, funny and exciting and full of the best magical traditions. She begins at the level of the light sponge cake, her narration all charming quirkiness. You are quickly sucked into thoroughly enjoying the pleasure of simply reading a book because it is B) filled with characters you love reading about, weredogs that change into five year old boys, grouchy housekeepers that cook everlasting dishes of cheese cauliflower whenever they are irritated, etc. Lots of tasty kinds of fresh fruit. While you are reading along happily you realize C) The story has deepened. She's added custard! Jones has brought her tale and her use of magic to another level. Magic is a force, a real force, a force to be reckoned with. By this time, all her characters are swirling together desperately while spells, old earth magic, illusions, and galactic forces even greater than "those who fear iron" are at work. So she pitches in a little fine brandy and the thing really sets up.
Oh, and plenty of whipped cream at the end.
WHO I WOULD GIVE THIS BOOK TO: Great news! This is a true stand alone Jones book. To those readers 9 - 12 who find the early Christopher Chant a bit overwhelming, ENCHANTED GLASS will be a great way to sucker them in!
Diana Wynne Jones has written approximately 50 books, most of which are fantasy for young people. They frequently focus on the theme of gifted children who have to make a break from abusive or manipulative family members to develop their gifts on their own. Often whimsical, occasionally spooky, and frequently humorous, her novels often deal with a folksy magic with ordinary-seeming people caring for each other and taking responsibility for their world. ENCHANTED GLASS is no exception to this theme.
Neither Aidan nor Andrew has much practice using magic. Aidan has a magic wallet where money appears when he most needs it and a propensity for making friends. Andrew knows he possesses a "field of care," but it is unclear to him how far its boundaries extend or what he must do to maintain it. They are joined by several other characters with dubious magical abilities: a gardener who seems to have a gift for growing enormous and nasty-tasting vegetables, a former jockey with a knack for growing roses, and a passive-aggressive housekeeper who has a habit of bending people to her will. While initially many of these characters and their habits seem irritating or obstructive, ultimately they provide the backbone of Melstone's magical community and are the best weapon against the ancient and formidable foe that seeks to claim Aidan for its own.
As the town prepares for its annual fair, the magical mayhem spreads. Magical doubles, or "counterparts," start appearing. Aidan makes friends with a weredog and a giant called Groil who eats all the gardener's giant-sized vegetables. People compete with handicrafts and homegrown fare, not realizing that these are the very things that define their community and help to protect their homes. What begins with a generations-old boundary dispute ends with Aidan finding a place to call his own.
ENCHANTED GLASS, like many of Diana Wynne Jones's books, accepts the idea of magical heritage while also refusing to believe that the accident of one's parents must determine one's future. In the scene where Aidan first looks through one of the panes of the magical windows, he hears a voice ask, "What is it you need?" Aidan answers that he needs to be safe: "People keep coming after me." The voice tells him that steps have already been taken to ensure his safety. Then the voice asks if there is anything else he needs: "Have you no ambitions?" Aidan suddenly realizes, "I want to be wise, like Gran and Andrew, and have my own field-of-care and write books about all the amazing things I find out and --- and fix things magically that can't be fixed any other way..."
I've always felt that Jones's books reach for that place --- in many children and for some adults --- that can't be fixed in any other way. Her novels have always seemed to contain lessons on how to recover from the destructive and all-too-common violence that often comes --- many times unintentionally --- from the people who are supposed to love and protect us the most. Her characters are able to reach out to that magic, "one of the great forces of the universe that had come into being right at the beginning, along with gravity and the force that held atoms together, strong as or stronger than any force there..." and heal the things that have been broken. It is thus an apt metaphor that the magic in this book is represented both by very ordinary caretaking activities that create a town, a neighborhood, and a home, and by something as delicate and fragile as colored glass.
Diana Wynne Jones has been seriously ill, and many of her fans are worried that ENCHANTED GLASS will be her last book. It's impossible for me to think of this as her last work. It's equally impossible for me to think of it standing separate from all the other novels she has written. While a stand-alone title, it is also part and parcel of a life's work: books that continue to be an enormous gift to readers both young and old.
What I liked: The story was delightfully narrated. Steven Crossley created a distinct and perfectly fitting voice for each of the many characters. I found myself laughing a lot and my children thought it was funny as well. The plot moved rather quickly and there wasn't anything too scary or terribly upsetting. It was a sweet story of an orphaned boy finding a place to belong, meeting and interacting with magical beings, and helping his new caretaker learn about his own magical powers. I think it helps a bit to have some knowledge of basic faerie lore: Oberon is the king, Mab is a faerie queen, faeries don't use iron, etc., but this background isn't really necessary. You can figure things out as you go along even if you've never read any faery stories.
What I didn't like: The story of Aiden Kane, and the faerie world that keeps sneaking into his everyday life was fun and entertaining. However, there were some minor curse words, so I decided I better finish the book first to see where it was going before I decided if I wanted my kids to read it. I really loved it, up until the end.
Aiden had sought shelter from the dark shadowy Stalkers that were chasing him at the home of the late Jocelyn Brandon, a well-known magician. Brandon's own adult grandson, Andrew, is now in charge of Jocelyn's magical estate and for most of the book it is assumed that Aiden is being chased by dark faery creatures because he is the child of Oberon, the faery king. At the end of the book, it's revealed that he is actually Jocelyn Brandon's child. We knew Aiden's dead mom had many problems, but to find out Jocelyn had fathered Aiden by a young drug addicted alcoholic teenaged girl who was also his COUSIN, and who had been sent to him for help was disturbing to me. Instead of a nice feeling of "Oh, how sweet, Aiden and Andrew are related after all" I found myself feeling kind of sickened. Even though we never meet Jocelyn Brandon in person (although his ghost makes a brief appearance), he is portrayed throughout the book as a respectable, conscientious, and honorable man. To flip that on its head at the last page of the book and have the character who discovers the truth of Aiden's parentage (Andrew) take it with essentially a shrug and then a The End was just more than I could deal with.
This was the second book I've read by Diana Wynne Jones, and I realize saying anything less than wonderful about her work will not win me any goodwill :) She has a devoted following, and I can see why. Her writing is charming, magical, whimsical, enchanting, and transporting. If the entire book had stayed light and breezy without the out of place ending, I would've happily given it five stars. As it is, I don't think it's appropriate for young readers who appear to have been the target audience.
"Enchanted Glass" starts with a nearly - or stereotypically - absent-minded not-professor, Andrew Hope - who has an ambivalent nature to magic. Which may be why is his out of practice and doesn't use it.
This vague beginning turns 180 degrees around as the book progresses, immersing the reader with Andrew into an alternate world. While at first the story seems slow and without direction, once Diana Wynne Jones introduces the idea of counterparts, the story starts to fall together. The reader learns as Andrew learns (or rather remembers) the magic that his grandfather had taught him all those years ago.
The way Diana Wynne Jones slowly brings the reader to realize what she is referring to throughout her story is well done and fun. It makes the reader want to read to the end to see what the links are and how they are connected.