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HOUSE OF MANY WAYS by Diana Wynne Jones Kirkus Star

HOUSE OF MANY WAYS

By Diana Wynne Jones

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: June 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-147795-9
Publisher: Greenwillow/HarperCollins

Snark and affection abound in a colorful world filled with unfortunately dyed laundry, enormous kobold-built cuckoo clocks and horrifying cooking experiments. This third book in the Howl's Moving Castle (1986, etc.) series introduces Charmain, a crankily respectable girl in the kingdom of High Norland. Charmain’s parents forbid anything that isn’t ladylike or elegant (including cooking, tidying, magic and playing with other children). When Charmain is volunteered to housesit for sick Great-Uncle William, a wizard, she finds herself thrown into a muddled and magical international incident. Charmain's exposure to sorcerous power and national intrigue interest her less then the smaller but more personal growth opportunities available: befriending a wizard’s apprentice, acquiring her first dog, learning how to do laundry. Sulky Charmain develops into a crotchety protagonist capable of empathy and self-sacrifice but still a fully realized crosspatch who comes into her own in a convoluted climax that is trademark Wynne Jones yet holds together unusually well. Fan-pleasing series regulars Howl, Sophie and Calcifer play major roles, but this joyfully chaotic tale stays Charmain's—and a good thing, too. (Fantasy. 11-13)