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by Diana Wynne Jones

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-052318-2
Publisher: Greenwillow

In a stand-alone companion to Deep Secret (1999), Jones takes the kitchen-sink approach to plotting a gloriously twisty adventure. Arianrhod (Roddy) has spent all of her 14 years traipsing about an alternative Britain as part of the King’s Progress, until she stumbles upon a conspiracy by the court wizards to pervert the magic of several worlds. Meanwhile, on our Earth, Nichothodes (Nick) yearns for the ability to walk between worlds, a feat he is unable to accomplish until pushed into yet another England, where he gets tangled up in a number of assassination plots, including one aimed at himself. Roddy’s and Nick’s parallel accounts continue in alternating chapters, spanning many fascinating worlds and involving a cast including (but not limited to) a dyslexic magician, a famous mystery writer, a multiversal über-assassin, a hypocritical Prayermaster, a charming lady elephant, a pair of obnoxious twin witches, the Welsh Lord of the Dead, the living personifications of three cities, a voracious goat, a sleeping dragon, and a sentient silver service. Many readers will long for a flowchart detailing how all these characters relate to each other (or, sometimes, turn out to be each other), but those accustomed to Jones’s labyrinthine narrative pyrotechnics will settle back to enjoy everything crashing together in a universe-tilting climax. Nick—as charmingly lazy and self-centered as a cat—and Roddy—snobbish, bossy, and ferociously protective—are delightful companions for the ride, and it’s hard not to hope that their stories aren’t finished. Overstuffed and over the top, but a delicious romp. (Fantasy. YA)