Book Review: Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones
“As a boy, he had spent fascinated hours looking at the garden through each differently coloured pane. Depending, you got a rose pink sunset garden, hushed and windless; a stormy orange garden, where it was suddenly autumn; a tropical green garden, where there seemed likely to be parrots and monkeys any second. And so on. As an adult now, Andrew valued that glass even more. Magic apart, it was old old old. The glass had all sorts of internal wrinkles and trapped bubbles, and the long-dead maker had somehow managed to make the colours both intense and misty at once.”
When the magician Jocelyn Brandon Hope died he bequeathed Melstone House to his grandson Andrew. He also left his ‘field of care’: an area of strangeness surrounding the land around the house, whose boundary Andrew must walk in order to preserve its power.
Andrew had always loved the house, but he finds owning it a lot more complicated, aside from all the magic. There is Mrs Stock, the tyrannical housekeeper who won’t let him move the furniture and punishes him with her terrible cooking. Just as bad is the obsessive gardener who will only grow giant inedible vegetables. To add to his troubles, twelve year old orphan Aidan Cain suddenly arrives on the doorstep begging protection from magical stalkers, and Andrew’s sinister rich neighbour, Mr Brown, begins to encroach on the ‘field of care’. The one compensation is the gardener’s beautiful niece, Stashe. Things become stranger and stranger until all is made clear with the help of the enchanted glass itself.
Diana Wynne Jones is one of my top favorite authors and I’m still working through her backlog of books. I’ll probably be working my way through her backlog of books for some time. (I have no problem with this.) I love all of her books and it’s hard to find something to say about them that isn’t mindless gushing. Her books are just that good. Diana Wynne Jones’ books all have a refreshing type of fairy tale vibe to them that just pulls the reader in. She had a gift that is sorely missed.
It was a bit hard to figure out who I was supposed to focus on in this novel; Andrew or Aidan. They are both main characters in my opinion and that can make the book feel a little crowded sometimes. There was also a feeling of déjà vu while I was reading until I realized Enchanted Glass had a very “House of Many Ways” feeling to it with the inheritance of a magical house and kind of fish out of water feel to Andrew and Aiden. The premise is very close in both books.
That being said, the story is entertaining, fun, and utterly magical. The story is crafted and blended in that effortless way DWJ always displays in her books and the magic is elegant without being weighted down with too much fuss. It lives up to the standards of all DWJ books and even though it’s a one-off with no sequel, Enchanted Glass is well worth tracking down and reading.