Enchanted Glass ~ Diana Wynne Jones

  • Title: Enchanted Glass 
  • Author: Diana Wynne Jones
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewed by: Olga
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  Something is rotten in the village of Melstone

Aidan Cain has had the worst week of his life. Creepy, sinister beings want him dead. What’s a boy to do? With danger nipping at his heels, Aidan flees to Melstone, a village teeming with magic of its own. There he is taken in by Andrew Hope, the new master of Melstone House, who has some supernatural troubles too. Someone is stealing power from the area–mingling magics–and chaos is swiftly rising. Are Aidan’s and Andrew’s magical dilemmas connected somehow? And will they be able to unite their powers and unlock the secrets of Melstone before the countryside comes apart at the seams?

This was an enchanting story, full of magic. I don’t usually read children’s books, and I never read Diana Wynne Jones before although I watched and liked the Manga version of her novel, Howl’s Moving Castle. This book – I fell in love with. I enjoyed it tremendously and I’m definitely going to read more of this writer. Much more.

This particular tale is a quiet one. There are two protagonists: Andrew, an adult, and Aidan, a child. Andrew’s grandfather, the magician, died, and left Andrew a legacy: his house and his land – his field-of-care. Andrew had spent lots of time with his grandfather as a boy, but by now – he’s a teacher at a university – he has all but forgotten about his grandfather’s magic. He has to relearn it fast if he is to save Aidan and the land from the wicked Mr. Brown.

Aidan, a magically gifted boy, naive and curious as only a child could be, comes to live with Andrew after his grandmother died. There is symmetry there, although while Andrew is settling into his new life as a resident magician, Aidan is running away from the fairy folks who for some reason are hunting him.

Andrew takes Aidan in, and the little details of their everyday existence fill the book. It should have been boring but surprisingly it’s not. The magical talent of the writer makes every tiny twinkle in their lives absorbing and slightly mysterious.

Magical and mundane intertwine in this tale, as the author weaves her tapestry of all the separate threads, all the lives revolving around Aidan, and they all sparkle – every filament gilded with fantasy. One thread consists of the antics of Andrew’s strong-minded housekeeper. Another is enriched by his gardener’s quirks and oversized vegetables. And then there are Aidan’s friends: the were-dog Rolf and the vegetable-gobbling giant Groil.

The story progresses without haste, but despite the inherent humor, subtle and infused with double-meaning, the tension mounts inexorably, as Mr. Brown sends his minions, one after another, to capture Aidan. Andrew must master his magic in a hurry to thwart the encroaching Mr. Brown and extricate Aidan from his deepening troubles.

The culmination strikes during the annual village Fete, and of course the shameless Mr. Brown cheats at every competition. What else would you expect from a villain?

Besides the two protagonists, the writer’s imagination populated this novel with a slew of secondary characters, all of them colorful and necessary, all of them adding one more facet to the magic of the tale.

The novel is deceptively simple on the surface, but its underlying complexity is adorned by a palette as polychromatic as the enchanted glass of the title. Utterly delightful.