Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones, a book review

Yes, I'm reviewing Enchanted Glass a second time. I used Diana Wynne Jones Week as an excuse to read it again; not that I really need excuses to reread books I like, and this one is fast moving up in the ranks.

Basic summary: Andrew Hope inherits his grandfather's house and finds that, with it, he has inherited something called a "field of care" and that he had better relearn all the magic his grandfather taught him and which he has largely forgotten on the grounds that rational people do not believe in magic. He sorts this out while trying to protect Aiden Cain, a twelve year old boy who shows up on his doorstep claiming to be hunted by strange beings that most other people cannot see. At the same time, he's trying hard to get his computer to work (difficult due to magic surges, which seem to mess with its circuitry) so that he can write a book outlining his theory of history.

I liked this book the first time I read it, and liked it even more the second. One reason is that it is simply a beautifully written book, one of those rare books where everything seems to fit exactly as it ought, and there's no sense that perhaps it would have been better if the author had just added a little more, or left just a few bits out.

I also appreciate the way Wynne Jones has an adult protagonist and a pre-teen protagonist and lets them be friends with each other without either one condescending to the other or the reader; Aiden is twelve, Andrew is an adult, they are both happy to be who and what they are and can still chat happily about kinds of magic, meeting giants, and dealing with the incursions of an angry neighbor.

It pleases me to no end that Andrew never stops wanting to write his book. There are any number of stories out there--some of them quite good ones--where the protagonist has settled for some humdrum existence from which he or she must be rescued by the power and danger of a previously forgotten magic. In this one, there is no sense that Andrew "settled" for his academic career. He valued his studies; he still does value them, and the return of magic to his life is an additional study and interest, and, occasionally, irritation. It doesn't eliminate all the work he's been doing in the intervening years.

For another review, look here at Villa Negativa. There is also one up here at Book Aunt.


  1. I hadn't thought of that, but you're right about Andrew's academic career. Not that magic isn't interesting, but I like it that Diana Wynne Jones's characters have other interests. Like in Dark Lord of Derkholm, some of the griffins are interested in magic, and some aren't--Colette with her gadgets and Lydda with her food. Yay.

  2. Yes, that's a good point. I liked it that Tom Lynn was a cellist--and a good one--in Fire and Hemlock.