Friday, April 6, 2012
Review: Enchanted Glass
Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Diana Wynne Jones is who I turn to every time I'm in a reading slump. Her books are delightful, well-paced, and always a wonder. There are repetitive elements, but she addresses each of them in a new and fresh way.
In Enchanted Glass, Andrew Hope, who everyone calls "the Professor," inherits his grandfather's house, and a load of responsibility he doesn't entirely understand. Then along comes orphaned Aidan Cain, and a lot of helpers who want to see that he treats his inheritance properly. They don't know a lot more than Andrew does, though.
The audio version was confusing in places, because I kept mixing up Andrew and Aidan's names, and the narrative swaps between their perspectives without warning. They're not interchangeable, which made the perspectives easier to follow, but I would often feel lost for a paragraph or so until I'd realized I was picturing the wrong person.
I thought I understood the story world's view toward magic, but I'm not sure. At first, it seemed commonplace and acceptable, but there are some aspects of magic Andrew quails at and is unwilling to accept. I suppose that makes it all the more realistic, because it's not like those who take technology for granted believe everything people say about it. But it did give me pause, in places.
The story is appropriate for many ages. There's a romance plot, but it's very tame; the characters don't even kiss within the narrative. There's some magical and comic violence, but nothing too dire. The consequences for losing a fight are banishment from an immediate area to keep that individual from causing more trouble. Even the potentially scary elements are toned down.
And yet, this was quite enjoyable to read as an adult. Andrew isn't dumbed-down for a young audience, and his most endearing trait, initially, is that he speaks to Aidan like he's an adult. It's a relatively straightforward narrative, but one that integrates elements of classic fairy tales. Oberon, Titania, and Mab feature as characters, though the book never uses "fairy" or "fae" to describe them.
If you've forgotten why you like to read, and you're looking for that sense of wonder you had from books when you were younger, you could do a lot worse than to pick up this book. Diana Wynne Jones is one of those authors who translates well for an adult audience, so you can enjoy this without feeling self-conscious that you're reading a "kids' book." Lots of adult readers love DWJ, and I'm one of them.
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