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Better than Harry Potter! The late great Diana Wynne Jones...

(72 Posts)
hardtostayfocused Fri 16-Aug-13 20:07:34

I'm still palpitating at the number of DWJ novels which appeared in the fantastic AIBU fictional parents thread. (For those not yet in the know she was one of the best children's fantasy novelists of the last 40 years...)

The first one I read was 8 Days of Luke (showing my age...) and I loved Charmed Life and The Ogre Downstairs as a child, and was thrilled by The Time of the Ghost and Fire and Hemlock as a teen.

Then, in my 20s, realised to my delight that she was still turning out a fine book a year, so collected all those too!

I know there are a few other obsessive fans out there... please come and share. Which is your favourite?

<Sits in corner, shaking slightly, chanting "Chrestomanci!">

Ablababla Fri 16-Aug-13 20:10:32

I love DWJ! I like any of the Christopher Chant one tbh. I love how she can just take you instantly to a world that's do alien at yet familiar and you instantly feel at home. Don't think I have read them all either.

Jux Fri 16-Aug-13 20:13:13

I love her too. When did she die?

I haven't read all of her books by any means. My favourite so far is the one where there is a stained glass window..... Oh bother I'll have to find it and re-read.

pointythings Fri 16-Aug-13 20:14:12

My favourite one is probably Hexwood, I like her YA stuff because she writes adolescents so well. Though I also really like Fire and Hemlock and the Homeward Bounders.

I have everything she has ever written and reread them frequently, she just never disappoints. And of course fantasising about Chrestomanci whiles away those boring hours so very well...

Pachacuti Fri 16-Aug-13 20:17:42

I love DWJ, although I haven't read all of them yet (rationing myself given that there will be no more). The first one I read was Wilkins' Tooth, and I'm not sure whether I have a favourite, or at least not a steady unchanging favourite.

talkingnonsense Fri 16-Aug-13 20:19:17

She was amazing. I think Howls Moving Castle and Powrr of Three are my favourites. She had such range and was such a strong world builder. Tbh, I did find her adult books slightly less enjoyable. Worth looking at Sarah Rees Brennan, a young writer who is a fan of dwj, and whose own books are very good.

talkingnonsense Fri 16-Aug-13 20:20:12

And I suspect JKR would have read DWJ, so probably an influence even if not a conscious one.

JustBecauseICan Fri 16-Aug-13 20:20:43

Well.......I had this writer recommended to me when I was moaning (again) about how rubbish JK is as a writer, (despite the premise of her plots being very good) and I bought a couple of Chrestomanci books.

I thought they were shit. Couldn't work out what the feck was going on and yer man himself seemed pervy. blush

I have obviously missed something- and other friends have told me to try again so could somebody tell me what to try? (possibly not Chrestomanci?)

JustBecauseICan Fri 16-Aug-13 20:21:35

That was it- Howl's Moving Castle. I read that and thought wtf? <gets coat>

hardtostayfocused Fri 16-Aug-13 20:40:42

talkingnonsense Which would you call her adult books? The only one I can think of that is really not for children is... ah... can't remember the title - the one set in a hotel for a science fiction convention... oh wossit called? (It's one of the only 2 or 3 that I don't own so can't look it up, but I've read it from the library twice and I really like it.)

PiratePanda Fri 16-Aug-13 20:42:32

Love love love love Cart and Cwidder. It was one of my favourite books as a child and I read it again and again and again.

Woodhead Fri 16-Aug-13 20:43:11

8 days of Luke was my first as well. I read it as a young teen and was blown away. I particularly loved the notion that a child didn't need to feel grateful for basic care. I loved Luke, and I loved the fact that I didn't already know all the norse mythology, so didn't really "get it" until right at the end.

However, my ultimate favourite is Hexwood. It was one of the few books that when I got to the end I immediately started again. There's just so much shifting in it, I love the way she messes with time and space and lets you think something is true, when really it's an illusion that you don't catch up with until much later. Mordian Agenos reliving his childhood trapped in a web of pain, must be one of the most profound and deeply traumatic parts I've ever come across in a children's book. Truly heart-wrenching.

Will chat more later-brilliant thread.

PiratePanda Fri 16-Aug-13 20:43:47

Also a big fan of Ursula Le Guin's Wizard of Earthsea series (but not the fifth book as it was complete shote£.

PiratePanda Fri 16-Aug-13 20:44:01

Ahem. Shite.

hardtostayfocused Fri 16-Aug-13 20:46:25

JustBecauseICan Personally I don't think Howl's Moving Castle is one of her strongest - though still like it - I think there may be odd plot gap here and there... Most of her books do involve some kind of time/dimension travelling and the plots are pretty baffling so.....

But you could try The Ogre Downstairs, which has more of a grounding in real life than most. And Witch Week is fun (though Chrestomanci makes a fleeting appearance).

Pachacuti Fri 16-Aug-13 20:47:04

Power of Three might be a good one. It's quite linear. Or maybe Black Maria.

If you found the Chrestomanci books hard to follow then for the love of deity-of-choice steer clear of Hexwood and Fire and Hemlock grin. I think too that you really need to read Charmed Life followed by The Lives of Christopher Chant to make head or tale of the Chrestomanci series (if that's what you did then pfft, I wash my hands of you wink) and TBH I don't care hugely for the others in that series.

Wearytiger Fri 16-Aug-13 20:50:22

I love DWJ. About three years ago I picked up a copy of Howl's Moving Castle. I didn't think I'd read it but suddenly I was transported back to my childhood... I have always had a vague memory of a slightly petulant fire sprite but never known where from, and there he was in the book... It was Calcifer! It's the very first book I ever read aloud to my daughter as well. I suspect I would have the same experience with a few more of her books as well as there are bits I remember but probably didn't understand ... Is there one where eight brothers control a town including utilities etc? Also there are little turns of phrase that I think I got from her that I will never forget eg 'great sticky cliffs' of marmalade. She is an incredibly evocative writer I think, and like JKR (and George rr Martin as well) I think her choice of names is absolutely inspired.

Pachacuti Fri 16-Aug-13 20:50:35

I think The Time Of The Ghost isn't really a children's book, although it could probably squeeze in as young adult. And A Sudden Wild Magic is more of an adult book.

Pachacuti Fri 16-Aug-13 20:51:04

Wearytiger, the one with the brothers is Archer's Goon .

talkingnonsense Fri 16-Aug-13 20:55:57

A sudden wild magic, deep secret and changeover were originally marketed for adults. However iirc, the sequel to deep secret is definitely young adult/ teen/ ya/ however you describe it! I'm also less keen on the books for younger children like Wilkins tooth.

Charmed life is a v good place to start, also ogre downstairs or spell coats if you like "proper " fantasy.

Howl is the funniest! And the film was interesting.

8 days of Luke also an excellent stand alone and interesting if you like Neil gaimans American gods- gaiman and DWJ were friends I believe.

talkingnonsense Fri 16-Aug-13 20:57:03

Yy, archers goon also v funny! Power corrupts, but we need electricity!

pointythings Fri 16-Aug-13 21:00:14

I keep forgetting Black Maria, definitely another of my favourites. DWJ also does enigmatic men very well.

The whole Dalemark series does read like 'proper' fantasy, but seen through the eyes of children and all the better for it.

I wish I could stay on this thread but am about to go on holiday and completely off grid, and hoping it keeps going for a fortnight may be pushing it. flowers cake [but still no chocolate emoticon!!!]

tumbletumble Fri 16-Aug-13 21:04:59

Another DWJ fan here! I think my favourites are Power of Three, Charmed Life, Dogsbody and Fire and Hemlock. Looking forward to my DC being old enough to read them.

Wearytiger Fri 16-Aug-13 21:06:10

Archers goon! Archers goon! That's it. All I remember is the title. But I do remember the title. Off to amazon now...

I quite fancy treating myself so can anyone give me a list of DWJ to buy? I would like to buy the chrestomanci series, what does that comprise of? And then is there another series as well? Is Archer's Goon standalone? I am very completionist about these things.

Wearytiger Fri 16-Aug-13 21:06:41

I've read Howl and the sequel definitely btw. But the rest are list in the mists of childhood.

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