Saturday, August 7, 2010

Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones, a book review

Eight Days of Luke is one of my favorite books by Diana Wynne Jones, which is to say, it's one of my favorite books period.

It begins when David returns to his guardians after a successful school year. He is not particularly looking forward to seeing them, though he is looking forward to telling one of his uncles about the recent cricket match. On reaching the house, however, he finds that no one expects him at all. They have all been planning a holiday and meet his arrival with blank dismay. After being scolded one too many times for simply being around, David goes out and tries a curse, stringing together the nastiest-sounding words he can. To his surprise, a wall falls down after one string and a boy of about his own age appears. The boy, Luke, claims David has freed him from a terrible enchantment--something David does not believe--and he quickly becomes David's good friend.

Gradually, David realizes that Luke is not an ordinary boy, he's Loki, Norse god of mischief, and the other gods are out to recapture him. Friendship with Luke/Loki makes David offer to solve the gods' current crisis in order to keep him from being re-imprisoned. The trouble is, he only has a week to do it in, and he can only do it if he does not know what it is the gods are looking for.

Eight Days of Luke is, like Enchanted Glass, one of the books that is exactly the right length and has just enough and not too much detail. I have read it several times, savoring the different gods' appearances, watching how they fit into the ordinary world while remaining recognizable as the Norse pantheon, and enjoying the smoothness of the shift between worlds when David briefly visits Valhalla.

It also has a wonderful, bittersweet ending question.

This one is staying on my shelves, and I am not loaning out my copy, not to anyone!

For a slightly different take, check this review at The Book Coop. Jenny also discusses it briefly here in her roundup of DWJ books.


  1. I can never remember how long it takes David to realize these are the Norse gods. I always enjoy this one because of the echoes between it and American Gods--have you read that? When David talks to the ravens, I always remember Shadow telling one of his Odin's ravens to say "Nevermore". :p

  2. Yes--I love American Gods--not quite so much as I love Eight Days of Luke, but quite enough to have read it several times and to plan on reading it more at some time in the future.