My absolute favorite author is Diana Wynne Jones who died in March 2011 unfortunately. She managed to create something new with every single one of her stories. Not like some big successes (HarryP cough, cough), where the same story repeats with slight variants. Every single one of Diana’s works is unique, the characters so alive they could jump right from the page into real life. Of course, it’s difficult to choose one from the big list (she wrote countless stories, here an overview). They are all great. The first story I ever read from her (I was 10 years old) was “Charmed Life“, the first volume in the Crestomanci series (all books can be read independently from each other). Till today, it’s still one of my most favorite stories.
Cat doesn’t mind living in the shadow of his sister, Gwendolen, the most promising young witch ever seen on Coven Street. But trouble starts brewing the moment the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Ancient and turreted, the castle is every bit as grand as Gwendolen had hoped. But there are disappointments. No butler opens the door to her, no lavish banquets are given in her honor. Instead, she and Cat have to do lessons in the schoolroom with Chrestomanci’s two children, and worse of all she is forbidden to practice magic except under supervision. Frustrated, Gwendolen conjures up a scheme that could throw whole worlds out of whack.
From the first page, I hated Gwen (I still do but not as strongly as back then – come on, it’s been more than 30 years). She is a beast, and her brother Cat always has to bear the blame for her tricks. When they arrive at Crestomanci’s, Gwen seems to be close to her goal, but she gets worse with anger because the big magician simply ignores her. Crestomanci is so disinterested, the reader considers him absentminded. As a child, I was sometimes very angry with him because he didn’t help Cat one little bit. But of course, there is a really good reason (as always with Diana Wynne Jones) for his actions. What a pity I can’t tell you. You’ll have to read the book yourself.
After I read this book (and others by DWJ), I knew I wanted to write Middle Grade and Young Adult books like this one day. Now, my dream is slowly coming true.
How about you? What’s your favorite book? Do you know Diana Wynne Jones (maybe from the cinema where one of her books was turned into a movie titled “Howl’s Moving Castle“)? Leave me a comment and I promise to answer.