Diana Wynne Jones

April 5, 2011

D is for… (A-Z challenge directory)

(Spoilers for “The Lives of Christopher Chant follow below, ‘after the More…’)

Children’s fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones passed away on March 25th of this year, after a year long battle with cancer.

I only recently started reading her books. There’s a blurb on the back of my 20th anniversary edition of Diane Duane’s “So you Want to be a Wizard”, which reads:

“Stands between the works of Diana Wynne Jones, in its wizardry and spells, and those of Madeleine L’Engle, in its scientific concepts and titanic battles between good and evil. An outstanding, original work.” – The Horn Book

Since I love Diane Duane’s books, and have been a fan of L’Engle’s since I was a child, (another great author who we’ve lost in the past few years,) so I looked DWJ up on audible.com, and bought the audiobook copy of  “A Charmed Life” made by Recorded Books, a little over two years ago.

By this point, I’ve read all of the Chrestomanci series, and am looking forward to still having many of her books and stories to read fresh. She has a wonderfully vivid imagination for witchcraft and enchantment, but what I still find the most amazing about Diana’s writing is the flair that she had with characters. All of her books seem to be populated with eccentric, flawed, and vivid characters. Many of them are lovable, and some are despicable, but even the bad guys are never caricatures, but complex if devious personalities.

And she almost always manages to surprise and delight me with one moment in each book, often involving her characters. The narration is very good at making me sympathize with the point of view of the central character, which heightens the shock when that character is surprised by the revelation too; whether it be the source of Gwendolyn’s amazing powers in “A Charmed Life”, the true story of Conrad Grant’s karma in “Conrad’s Fate”, the puzzle of the prison dining room in “The magicians of Caprona”, or…

Well, here we get to the spoilers part. If you want to remain unspoiled for one of Diana Wynne Jones’ best books, “The Lives of Christopher Chant”, then you can stop here and go to some other blog on the A-Z challenge – or do your best to scroll down to the bottom and leave a comment without looking.

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