Master storyteller Diana Wynne Jones presents a riveting collection of unpredictable tales, including:
* A cat tells how the kindhearted wizard she owns is suddenly called upon to defeat a horrific Beast.
* When Anne has mumps, her drawings come to life, and she must protect her home from them.
* Four children become involved in the intrigue surrounding an innocent prince, an evil count, and a brave outlaw.
These fifteen stories and one novella will enchant, startle, and surprise! (from Amazon)
I’m not entirely sure how long this had been sitting on my bookshelves before I started reading it (I’m not entirely sure where I got it from, either), but the only reason it took so long for me to actually read it was purely because I have a small prejudice against short stories. More often than not a short story collection leaves me cold (with a few exceptions), but this collection was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed every single story, even the ones with problems!
I don’t particularly feel like going story by story through the whole collection (probably it’d be boring, as well), so instead I’m going to talk about my favorite story, “Everard’s Ride”. It’s actually a novella, and fantastic enough to have been made into a full-fledged book if DWJ had wanted to. It’s the typical “siblings witness something mysterious and then go off onto an adventure where dangerous things happen, and also there is a snotty prince who turns out to be really okay, and also lots of people die but the best ones live so it’s okay.” But it’s grand.
The other stories were really good, as well, though of course I didn’t like them all equally. In fact, I pretty much hated the first story, “The Girl Jones,” but the next story, “Nad and Dan Adn Quaffy,” a sci-fi mind-bender, made up for it. Oh, jeeze, I’m doing it. I’m going through each story, and I said I wouldn’t. Okay, I’m stopping here.
If you’ve never read any of Diana Wynne Jones’ books before, or if you’re already a hardcore fan, Unexpected Magic is well worth picking up. It’s fun, it’s adventurous, and it’s made me love DWJ even more if possible. Of course, I could just be biased. (But I’m not.)
Read: August 2009