Saturday, May 8, 2010

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite authors, and one of the few authors whose books I buy in hardback. Enchanted Glass is an excellent addition to her other books.

The book follows two characters, Andrew Hope and Aidan Cain. Andrew teaches history at a university, but he retires when his grandfather dies and leaves him his house and magical "field-of-care." Aidan, who lived with his grandmother until her death a week before, has run away from his foster family--mostly to escape the frightening monsters pursuing him. Aidan's grandmother was friends with Andrew's grandfather. Aidan shows up on Andrew's doorstep, and Andrew takes him in.

Jones has a brilliant way with characters. They're warm and funny, quirky and realistic. Aidan's grief over his grandmother feels very real--it hits him hard when he least expects it, as grief does; in between, he explores Andrew's field-of-care and the village, makes friends with a weredog and a giant who live on the property, plays football with some of the local kids, and starts to look forward to the summer fete. Andrew, meanwhile, is both worried about Aidan and furious at the peculiar and sinister Mr. Brown, a neighbor who seems to be encroaching on his field-of-care.

The story is fast-paced and fun, with Jones's trademark humor and interesting minor characters. Her descriptions of the countryside are masterful, and the climax of the book is satisfying. This book reminds me a bit of Conrad's Fate and The Merlin Conspiracy, two of her recent novels, but it takes place in a distinctly different world from her other books. The plot is clever and Jones reveals it slowly, allowing readers to guess along with Aidan and Andrew about what's really going on.

I would say I enjoyed Enchanted Glass thoroughly, but the very last page brought me up short. It contains one last revelation that struck me as sour and strange, without any explanation or hints beforehand. And the book just stops at that point. Many of Jones's books have awkward endings, but this one's the worst I've seen. It's a disappointing note in an otherwise excellent book.

B&N link


Darla D said...

Your comment about the ending of this one is interesting. I did not have a problem with it - in fact, I suspected something similar because [tiny potential spoiler for those who haven't read this yet] didn't the Puck say that as soon as the boy realized who he was, the king would fade away? But that didn't happen, which made me wonder if he really wasn't who everyone thought he was. If that makes any sense!

K.C. Shaw said...

I missed that part, or didn't catch it when I was reading. I guess I'll be forced to reread the book now. :)

What mostly bothered me about the ending was that from what we learn about the grandfather's character, that just seemed totally like something he wouldn't do. If that makes sense! (Trying to avoid spoilers makes it hard to make sense.)

Darla D said...

Oh, that IS a good point. I hadn't thought of that! Maybe it points to the idea that people are complicated and do unexpected things. Oh - do you think the grandmother suspected, and that's why she told him to go there? Hmmmm....

K.C. Shaw said...

Hmm, you know, that's an excellent point! The grandmother did seem pretty savvy. And of course she was right.