Book Blurb: Charmain Baker is in over her head. Looking after Great-Uncle William’s tiny cottage while he’s ill should have been easy. But Great-Uncle William is better known as the Royal Wizard Norland, and his house bends space and time. Its single door leads to any number of places–the bedrooms, the kitchen, the caves under the mountains, the past, and the Royal Mansion, to name just a few.
By opening that door, Charmain has become responsible for not only the house, but for an extremely magical stray dog, a muddled young apprentice wizard, and a box of the king’s most treasured documents. She has encountered a terrifying beast called a lubbock, irritated a clan of small blue creatures, and wound up smack in the middle of an urgent search. The king and his daughter are desperate to find the lost, fabled Elfgift–so desperate that they’ve even called in an intimidating sorceress named Sophie to help. And where Sophie is, can the Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer be far behind?
Of course, with that magical family involved, there’s bound to be chaos–and unexpected revelations.
No one will be more surprised than Charmain by what Howl and Sophie discover.
My Opinion: House of Many Ways was my favorite of the “trilogy”. It was immensely engaging, and I find myself wanting to find more of Diana Wynne Jones to read. It also saddens me that there will be nothing new from this author, ever. I feel like her writing just kept getting better and better.
Like her previous works, House of Many Ways is chock full of flawed characters. You don’t always want to like them, but sometimes you find you can’t help it. It is wonderful. This is what I strive for my characters to be like when I write. The ones you just can’t help but love. I felt drawn to Charmain, who just wants to curl up with a good book, and doesn’t care to learn how to do housework. And the dog, it was just too adorable.
One note of criticism was that I felt like Charmain didn’t really get the same attention and growth as some of the characters in the previous novels. In the grand scheme of the plot, she was rather insubstantial, and could almost be pulled out entirely without affecting anything. Not a good thing for the main character.
Once again, the small book is fairly densely plotted. Either I am dense too or the complaints I have seen are the minority. I didn’t find the plot to be all that predictable. I was on high alert after Castle In The Air, but then I felt like Diana Wynne Jones pulled out all new tricks. It was a delightful surprise.
Bottom Line: Continues in the vein of the other Howl books with delightful writing and characters you can’t help but love.