on June 18, 2010
Professor Andrew Hope has inherited Melstone House, and it turns out to be more than he bargained for. The housekeeper and gardener don't get along, the paperwork is a mess, and a mysterious orphan boy, Aiden, turns up on his doorstep.
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
In the worlds of Diana Wynne Jones, magic is everywhere. It soaks entire villages and pops up in strange places in "Enchanted Glass," Jones' latest standalone fantasy novel. This enchanting, delightful little book has everything that you'd expect from her -- a tangled mass of magical plot threads, endearing characters, and odd secrets.
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.. right before weaving them into a shimmering tapestry.. And as usual, there's loads of humor and running jokes (example: grouchy Mrs. Stock shows her disapproval by making cauliflower cheeses, and her equally grouchy husband shows his by bringing in huge nasty vegetables).
But what pushes "Enchanted Glass" into sheer brilliance is the fantastical parts of it -- deep powerful earth magic, magic glass, and "fields of care." She even comes up with the unique idea of "counterparts."
Andrew and Aidan are likable protagonists as well -- one's an orphan with a mysterious past, the other's a pleasantly flaky academic, and the two of them develop a rather sweet father-son bond. Jones adds in plenty of other colorful characters like the no-nonsense Stashe, the perpetually bad-tempered Stocks, technowiz Shaun, the veggie-loving giant Groil, and even a golden retriever with a double identity.
"Enchanted Glass is indeed an enchanting experience -- a complex, quick-moving fantasy novel with a slightly abrupt ending. For fans of the fantastical, look no further.
Diana Wynne Jones is one of the best fantasists writing today, although her books are generally classed as children's or YA novels. In her latest, Enchanted Glass, she tells us about Andrew Hope, a sometime professor who inherits his grandfather's old house and "field-of-care," the latter being an area of land that is magical, as Andrew's grandfather was a wizard and Andrew himself has a good amount of magic in him. Soon, he's left his job at the university and is dealing with the unrelated Stocks, Mrs. and Mr., who do his housekeeping and gardening respectively and who don't much like each other; when young Aidan Cain from London arrives, driven only by the knowledge that his newly dead grandmother and guardian told him to go to old Mr. Brandon (Andrew's grandfather) if he ever got into trouble and needed help, Andrew isn't sure why but he at once takes the young boy in. Meanwhile, Mr. Stock has brought his niece Stache to serve as secretary to Andrew because he wants to write a book and she knows all about computers, and Mrs. Stock has brought in her nephew Shaun, who's quite dim but brilliant at doing manual stuff if you tell him exactly what to do, to work around the house and yard; thus the family grows and grows. Throw in Groil, a young giant for whom Andrew leaves Mr. Stock's well overgrown veggies on a rooftop every night, and Rolf, a were-dog who when human appears to be around five years old, as well as the old one-legged jockey Tarquin who's more than he seems (and Stache's father), and you've got a whole slew of interesting characters to cope with. And then there's the mysterious and grasping Mr. O. Brown (think Shakespeare, A Midsummer's Night Dream, to determine who he is), who's moved into the neighbourhood and seems to be trying to take over the entire field-of-care, and you've got yourself a wonderful plot. Bring on the eccentric villagers (mostly called Stock) and the annual fete, and the predictions to be drawn from horse-racing results, and, well, you've got a story only DWJ could tell. Brilliant - and not just for kids! Highly recommended.