Top 5 Things We Love About Diana Wynne Jones April 19, 2013Posted by ccbooks in Analysis.
This post is WAAAAAY overdue. Diana Wynne Jones has been a huge inspiration to both of us as writers and readers. I don’t love everything she’s written–I definitely have my favorites–but her huge body of work means that there are still lots of treasures out there for me to discover. So here are our Top 5 Things We Love About Diana Wynne Jones.
Some writers–many of whom I love–let their wordcraft and prose get in the way of storytelling. Plot takes a backseat to long, beautiful descriptions of empty cans on the side of the road or extended conversations debating non-essential questions about the meaning of life. Diana Wynne Jones, however, does not fall into this trap. She perfectly balances plot with description and communicates information about characters with specific, detailed snippets. In an essay from her book Reflections, Wynne Jones talks a little bit about how myth and folktales influence her work, saying that “I find my story usually pulls them in whether I intend them to be there or not. Well, they are the earliest forms of fantasy. The beauty of these tales is that they come to pieces like Lego and each of the pieces has a shape and meaning on its own.” Wynne Jones definitely understands how to arrange the pieces for maximum beauty.
Families–both biological and non-biological–are key to Jones’ view of a magical universe. Many of her characters are either cut off somehow from their families or feel like a fish out of water, unable to compete with the talents of their kin. The Magicians of Caprona and The Pinhoe Egg are two examples of books where it is only when children of alleged enemies work together that good prevails. Friendships and partnerships between humans and animals are also often the key to accomplishing change and progress.
Jones’ books often take place in one key location–a house, a village–and don’t always wander that far. Nonetheless, she is a master at bringing the reader into a fully-formed world in miniature.
I desperately wanted to live in Howl’s castle when I was younger. It sounded so cool. The creativity that she produces for some of her books is incredible: another example is Roddy’s life in The Merlin Conspiracy. Her daily routine sounded so interesting to me, particularly as a child who loved magical details. The house in The Game was another place that I wanted to go to and join in the explorations of the mythosphere. We also love her habit of writing happy endings–her reasoning being that “…it is better to aim at the moon” and we wholeheartedly agree!
The most obvious example of this is Witch Week, where Chrestomanci and a class of students have to figure out how to reverse a major magical error. Many fantasy novels take place in an entirely alternate universe, where magic really works. Others take place in a parallel world, or one where magic only works for certain individuals.