Monday, June 26, 2006

A Sudden Wild Magic

Diana Wynne Jones is a prolific writer of children's fantasy, most notably Howl's Moving Castle. She has also written a few books targeting the adult reader, and A Sudden Wild Magic is one of this select group.

In this book, the most powerful magid in England, Mark Lister, detects an alien influence on Earth events, and is forced to work within a very tight circle to deal with it. Maureen the dancer, beautiful Amanda, and eccentric Gladys are the wielders of magic that he turns to, but it is Amanda's sister Zillah who makes everything right when she taps into a sudden wild magic.

I enjoyed the book; I like Ms. Jones' voice and the touches of humor that infuse her stories. Seemingly coincidental events turn out to be interconnected after all, and events right themselves in the end with near-cosmic precision. The author tends to gloss over some of the details, which may bother some, such as the mechanics of skipping from one universe to another, the identity of the Great One who is so negatively affected by all the piracy, and how Mark and Herrill are reunited. I am the first to recognize that too many explanations can become unwieldy, and allow her these incomplete answers because they don't hurt the story.

The book is a curious mixture of adult and G-rated sensibilities. On the one hand, such matters as affairs, lovers, intended seductions, and homosexuals are openly discussed. On the other hand, the prurient details are not, and the descriptions are decidedly suitable for all audiences.

So, I liked it. I will read more of hers from time to time. But I still prefer Howl's Moving Castle and its sequel Castle in the Air.


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