Diana Wynne Jones RIP

There are two fantasy authors who have shaped my childhood and influenced the types of fantasy books I choose to read, and whose books will never bore m., I will read, re-read, and re-re-re-read their books for years to come. They are Dianne Wynne Jones and Tamora Pierce.  Today I discovered that Diana Wynne Jones died on the 26 March from cancer.

I’m heartbroken.  I feel like a bit of my childhood has slipped away. It’s amazing how someone whom you have never had contact with, can have such a huge impact on your childhood, help you grow in a certain direction, and yet never meet in person.  After many years of trying to figure out what kind of books I liked, I had finally figured out that I liked fantasy. But the fantasy genre during my childhood was woefully small, there seemed to be no interest in reading fantasy, there was oodles of Puppy Patrol books, and Animal Farm, the goddamn awful Sweet Valley books (shudders, those books were terrible and false and nasty like you won’t believe).  There was very little fantasy being stocked or released. That’s when I found Diana Wynne Jones’ books. I started on the Chrestomanci Series. I absolutely loved the series. They were set on the premise that there were multiple magical realities, either incredibly similar or totally different to our world. The Chrestomanci is a nine-lived enchanter whose duty it is to watch over the magical worlds and supervise the use of magic, in the reality he lives in and all others. Each book happens in a different realm, and is about the misuse of magic or when magic goes awry. One of my most favourite books in this series is the Magicians of Caprona.  The story follows that of Romeo and Juliet, two warring families, who happen to be magicians.  They always end up fighting each other (often ending with disastrous results).  They cast spells by singing, which I find such a novel idea.

My other all time favourite Diana Wynne Jones book of all time it Howls Moving Castle. Dianne Wynne Jones has this talent for writing about magic which isn’t overtly obvious. Yes, there are grand displays of magic like the people transforming into animals and making it rain cow-pats (Magicians of Caprona), but quite often the magic is subtle, like in Howls Moving Castle, where Sophie, the main character, can cast spells by talking to things! She’s a hat maker who chats to the hats she’s making and imbues them with magic which leads her into all sorts of trouble. I don’t want to say anymore than that because Howls Moving Castle is the most fantastically written book ever, it’s different and special, and while I absolutely loved Studio Ghibli’s interpretation of the book, the book is better.

While I readily admit I own a fraction of Diana Wynne Jones books, I believe that everyone has to own at least one of her books, most of them may be aimed at kids, but it doesn’t mean you’re too old to read them. They are fast paced and funny, clever and unusual and I’m immensely saddened that my favourite author is no longer with us.

PS. This is the cover to my copy of Howl’s Moving Castle, and how I like to imagine it. (Even though Howl in the Ghibli movie is super sexy).

PPS. The castle in the book doesn’t have legs!!!! It’s just a simple castle that FLOATS across the plains!


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