Tag: Author: Diana Wynne Jones

Review: Reflections: On the Magic of Writing

Posted 11 April, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

Reflections: On the Magic of Writing
By: Diana Wynne Jones
Format/Source: Hardback; my copy

Diana Wynne Jones is best-known for her novels and stories – of magical fantasy – written mainly for children. She received a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2007, as well as two Mythopoeic Awards and the Guardian Fiction Award for Charmed Life. But she was also a witty, entertaining speaker, a popular guest at science fiction and fantasy conventions and an engaged, scholarly critic of writing that interested her.

This collection of more than twenty-five papers, chosen by Diana herself, includes fascinating literary criticism (such as a study of narrative structure in The Lord of the Rings and a ringing endorsement of the value of learning Anglo Saxon) alongside autobiographical anecdotes about reading tours (including an account of her famous travel jinx), revelations about the origins of her books, and thoughts in general about the life of an author and the value of writing. The longest autobiographical piece, ‘Something About the Author’, details Diana’s extraordinary childhood and is illustrated with family photographs. Reflections is essential reading for anyone interested in Diana’s works, fantasy or creative writing.

The collection features a foreword by Neil Gaiman and an introduction and interview by Charlie Butler, a respected expert on fantasy writing.

As you know, I love her book Howl’s Moving Castle (review). I’ve been meaning to read more of her books, but I also really wanted to read this book and learn more about her approach to writing. So I was delighted when I found a copy at the bookstore months ago and snatched it up immediately.

I don’t know how much I can say about this book. Reflections: On the Magic of Writing is a fantastic collection of lecture notes, essays, and letters from Diana Wynne Jones about writing, about her books, about historical narratives, and about her life. It’s a fascinating look at the author herself as well as, more importantly, her approach to her writing and about writing in itself. It’s quite illuminating, and encouraging in a way, and writers I think will find this book incredly useful in the little gems she talks about when it comes to writing. The pieces written by others–Neil Gaiman, Charlie Butler, and her sons–were also very interesting pieces about the author and the impact of her works. My favourites pieces in this collection were “The Shape and Narrative in The Lord of the Rings“, “Two Kinds of Writing?” (especially interesting), “The Value of Learning Anglo-Saxon”, A Talk About Rules”, “Some Hints on Writing”, “Freedom to Write”, and “Characterization: Advice for Young Writers.”

There’s not much else I can say about this book except that it was an interesting one and that I learned a lot about Diana Wynne Jones the writer and the person. Fans of the author’s works as well as writers will want to check out this book!

Rating: ★★★★★

Visit the author’s official website || Order the book from the Book Depository

Review: The Dark Lord of Derkholm

Posted 27 March, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Dark Lord of Derkholm (Derkholm #1)
By: Diana Wynne Jones
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

A humorous fantasy from Diana Wynne Jones. In a world next door to ours, the tourist industry is devastating the population by its desire to experience all the fantasy cliches – Dark Lords, impoverished villages, dragons etc. The Head of the University resolves to shut the tours down; the only problem being the ruthless tour-master – and his all-powerful demons. To save them all, the incompetent wizard Derk is appointed as Dark Lord in the hope that he will ruin the tours, and sure enough proceeds to fail at everything due to his general uselessness. But can failing at everything lead to a win this time?

Firstly, I love these re-released covers, they’re so eye-catching but also very cool; all of my copies of the three related novels to Howl’s Moving Castle (review) feature these kinds of covers. Anyway, this book sounded pretty amusing: a fantasy world overrun by a tourist industry? Should be an intersting, fun, mad read!

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Review: House of Many Ways

Posted 11 April, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

House of Many Ways
By: Diana Wynne Jones
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

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 an 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, to name but a few. By opening that door, Charmain is now also looking after an extremely magical stray dog, a muddled young apprentice wizard and a box of the king’s most treasured documents, as well as irritating a clan of small blue creatures. Caught up in an intense royal search, she encounters an intimidating sorceress named Sophie. And where Sophie is, can the Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer be far behind?

So here I am, at the third novel of the series that started with Howl’s Moving Castle (review) and then Castle in the Air (review). The premise of the novel already sounds a little closer to Howl’s Moving Castle so I was interested to see where Charmain’s story would take her. Contains some spoilers ahead!

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Review: Castle in the Air

Posted 9 April, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

Castle in the Air
By: Diana Wynne Jones
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

“I never said my wishes were supposed to do any good,” said the genie. “In fact, I swore that they would always do as much harm as possible.”

By day Abdullah is a humble carpet merchant, yet in his dreams he is a prince. But his dreams start to come true when he meets the lovely Flower-in-the-Night.

When a hideous djinn carries Flower off into the sky, Abdullah is determined to rescue her–if he can find her, and if he can avoid all the ferocious villains who seem to be after him. But how can he possibly succeed, with only a bad-tempered genie and an unreliable magic carpet to help him?

I absolutely loved reading Howl’s Moving Castle (review) last year so I was looking forward to reading the next book in the series 🙂

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Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

Posted 9 September, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

Howl’s Moving Castle
By: Diana Wynne Jones
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

“How about making a bargain with me?” said the demon. “I’ll break your spell if you agree to break this contact I’m under.”

In the land of Ingary, where seven league boots and cloaks of invisibility do exist, Sophie Hatter catches the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste, who puts a curse on her. Determined to make the best of things, Sophie travels to the one place where she might get help – the moving castle which hovers on the nearby hills.

But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the hearts of young girls…

I’ve heard about this story for a very long time, made even popular by Hayao Miyazaki’s anime movie back in the early 2000s. I never watched the movie and I have been meaning to read the book for ages, especially after hearing from fellow bloggers how much they had enjoyed it. Geek Girl Pen Pals featured it for September’s Group Read and, needing a break from some of the ARCs I’ve been reading, I decided to pick up a copy of the novel and check it out. May contain some minor spoilers ahead!

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