Review: House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

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Publication: June 1 2008
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Pages:  327 pages
Source: Bought (Amazon)
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, YA, Fiction, Children’s
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve finished the Howl’s Moving Castle series and don’t know how I’ll ever recover. House of Many Ways is the perfect end to Howl, Sophie, and the many new characters we get to meet adventures and a good farewell to Ingary. It felt very final, though Jones did talk before her death about more Howl stories she wanted to write. Still, I’m happy it ended with House of Many Ways in true Jones fashion: magic, humour, and sweetness all rolled into one magnificent book.

House of Many Ways follows fiery, stubborn, and privileged Charmain Baker has been forced into looking after her Great Uncle William’s house while he is ill. But Great Uncle William is a wizard and his house is anything but ordinary, one wrong turn could take you to a beautiful meadow with a villainous Lubbock, another could take you to where the Kubolds live, another could even take you to the past! While Charmain tries to juggle taking care of the house, her uncle’s dog, his fairly useless apprentice, and tries to organize a mysterious project for the king, a strong-headed witch named Sophie Pendragon appears which means Charmain’s life is only about to get more interesting (and more complicated).

What can I say? Of course I loved House of Many Ways! It is much more of a sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle than Castle in the Air, though I would still read the books in order to understand who some of the characters that appear House of Many Ways are. Howl and Sophie show up much earlier and are as funny and hilarious as ever. I loved their banter, their frustrations, and just their overall relationship. How and Sophie are easily one of my favourite literary couples and a big reason for that is they never say “I love you,” kiss, or do the traditional romantic things couples in books are expected to do. The most that happens is a twirling hug in Castle in the Air, but other than that Jones does an amazing job of showing the love between Howl and Sophie in how they talk to each other, in all that exists in the untraditional aspects between them. There are many ways to show you love someone, whether it’s through the grand romantic gestures that are expected or saving your one true love from an evil fire demon, and I’m glad Jones created Howl and Sophie to show that.

But like Castle in the AirHouse of Many Ways introduces us to some new characters reader’s can’t help but become enchanted with. Protagonist Charmaine Baker is prickly, smart, but surprisingly doesn’t know much. Sure she reads all day (or would if she could) but she doesn’t know how to wash dishes, do laundry, cook meals, or anything useful really. I enjoyed Charmaine’s spirit, but her lack of knowledge for simple household tasks really irked me, not her fault of course since her parents wanted her to be “respectable” (i.e. respectable apparently means not knowing how to do anything.) but I enjoyed to see her adapt to her surroundings throughout the story. Luckily Peter Regis, the useless apprentice to Uncle William was their to pester and teach Charmaine how to do basic household tasks. While Peter knows how to do all the simple things that Charmaine doesn’t, he’s a pretty poor magician and has never made a spell go right…yet. We then of course have the lovable Waif, a strange dog that belongs to Uncle William that seemingly changes gender. I don’t know what Diana Wynne Jones did but I loved this dog as much as everyone else in this book, I swear there is magic in her words.

Overall, House of Many Ways is a worthy sequel and fantastic end to the Howl’s Moving Castle series. The magic, the love, the friendship, the bickering, everything that makes a good Jones book is there making it a story and a world reader’s will always keep in their heart. I’m going to miss the Howl series, it’s still hard to accept it’s over. Luckily Diana Wynne Jones has a whole library of books that I can gorge on, but I will miss Howl and Sophie dearly.

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