Longtime fans and new readers alike will revel in Jones's self-assured return to the realm she charted in Howl's Moving Castle, a riff on English and German fairytales, and its Arabian Nights-themed sequel, Castle in the Air. When bookish, utterly selfish Charmain leaves home to care for her ailing great-uncle's magical house, she surprises herself by discovering her own hidden talents-and ends up helping save the kingdom of High Norland from the fearsome Lubbock. Brought up by her doting parents to be utterly "respectable" (which in her case translates to being astonishingly useless), Charmain is an unlikely heroine. Yet she easily holds center stage, even when the flamboyant Wizard Howl (of Moving Castle fame) appears midway through the novel. Beguiling enough on their own, Charmain's big and small adventures (bickering with the boy who comes to stay; attempting housework with hilarious results; mediating the disputes of the disgruntled tiny blue men who work behind the scenes) gain an added urgency thanks to the lurking menace of the Lubbock, who is easily among the scariest villains Jones has ever created. A tale to luxuriate in. Ages 12-up. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
House of Many Ways (Howl's Castle Series #3)by Diana Wynne Jones
The sequel to Howl's Moving Castle
When Charmain Baker agreed to look after her great-uncle's house, she thought she was getting blissful, parent-free time to read. She didn't realize that the house bent space and time, and she did not expect to become responsible for an extremely magical stray dog and a muddled young apprentice wizard. Now, somehow, she's/b>… See more details below
The sequel to Howl's Moving Castle
When Charmain Baker agreed to look after her great-uncle's house, she thought she was getting blissful, parent-free time to read. She didn't realize that the house bent space and time, and she did not expect to become responsible for an extremely magical stray dog and a muddled young apprentice wizard. Now, somehow, she's been targeted by a terrifying creature called a lubbock, too, and become central to the king's urgent search for the fabled Elfgift that will save the country. The king is so desperate to find the Elfgift, he's called in an intimidating sorceress named Sophie to help. And where Sophie is, the great Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer won't be far behind. How did respectable Charmain end up in such a mess, and how will she get herself out of it?
Gr 5-10- Sheltered teenager Charmain Baker is sent by her domineering great-aunt to house-sit for a distant relative, the royal wizard. She finds that his residence has myriad magical rooms and hallways and soon learns that there is trouble in the seemingly peaceful kingdom of High Norland. The treasury is disappearing, and no one knows where the money is going. Princess Hilda invites Sophie Pendragon, the main character from Howl's Moving Castle (1986), to come help solve the mystery, with her husband, Howl, disguised as an annoying preschooler, and the fire-demon Calcifer. A lubbock, one of Jones's more threatening magical creations, and its offspring, the lubbockins, threaten the kingdom, and it's up to Charmain and her nascent magical talents-and her new friends-to save the day. A whirlwind conclusion sets all to rights and leaves Charmain ready to start life outside of her parents' shadow. Sophie and Howl play background roles here, as in Castle in the Air (HarperCollins, 2001), but readers will find Charmain much to their liking as she develops from a girl who is unable to take care of herself into a proactive and adventurous young woman.-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI
Read an Excerpt
House of Many Ways
In which Charmain is volunteered to look after a wizard's house
"Charmain must do it," said Aunt Sempronia. "We can't leave Great-Uncle William to face this on his own."
"Your Great-Uncle William?" said Mrs. Baker. "Isn't he" She coughed and lowered her voice because this, to her mind, was not quite nice. "Isn't he a wizard?"
"Of course," said Aunt Sempronia. "But he has" Here she too lowered her voice. "He has a growth, you know, on his insides, and only the elves can help him. They have to carry him off in order to cure him, you see, and someone has to look after his house. Spells, you know, escape if there's no one there to watch them. And I am far too busy to do it. My stray dogs' charity alone"
"Me too. We're up to our ears in wedding cake orders this month," Mrs. Baker said hastily. "Sam was saying only this morning"
"Then it has to be Charmain," Aunt Sempronia decreed. "Surely she's old enough now."
"Er" said Mrs. Baker.
They both looked across the parlor to where Mrs. Baker's daughter sat, deep in a book, as usual, with her long, thin body bent into what sunlight came in past Mrs. Baker's geraniums, her red hair pinned up in a sort of birds' nest, and her glasses perched on the end of her nose. She held one of her father's huge juicy pasties in one hand and munched it as she read. Crumbs kept falling on her book, and she brushed them off with the pasty when they fell on the page she was reading.
"Er... did you hear us, dear?" Mrs. Baker said anxiously.
"No," Charmain said withher mouth full. "What?"
"That's settled, then," Aunt Sempronia said. "I'll leave it to you to explain to her, Berenice, dear." She stood up, majestically shaking out the folds of her stiff silk dress and then of her silk parasol. "I'll be back to fetch her tomorrow morning," she said. "Now I'd better go and tell poor Great-Uncle William that Charmain will be taking care of things for him."
She swept out of the parlor, leaving Mrs. Baker to wish that her husband's aunt was not so rich or so bossy, and to wonder how she was going to explain to Charmain, let alone to Sam. Sam never allowed Charmain to do anything that was not utterly respectable. Nor did Mrs. Baker either, except when Aunt Sempronia took a hand.
Aunt Sempronia, meanwhile, mounted into her smart little pony-trap and had her groom drive her beyond the other side of town where Great-Uncle William lived.
"I've fixed it all up," she announced, sailing through the magic ways to where Great-Uncle William sat glumly writing in his study. "My great-niece Charmain is coming here tomorrow. She will see you on your way and look after you when you come back. In between, she will take care of the house for you."
"How very kind of her," said Great-Uncle William. "I take it she is well versed in magic, then?"
"I have no idea," said Aunt Sempronia. "What I do know is that she never has her nose out of a book, never does a hand's turn in the house, and is treated like a sacred object by both her parents. It will do her good to do something normal for a change."
"Oh, dear," said Great-Uncle William. "Thank you for warning me. I shall take precautions, then."
"Do that," said Aunt Sempronia. "And you had better make sure there is plenty of food in the place. I've never known a girl who eats so much. And remains thin as a witch's besom with it. I've never understood it. I'll bring her here tomorrow before the elves come, then."
She turned and left. "Thank you," Great-Uncle William said weakly to her stiff, rustling back. "Dear, dear," he added, as the front door slammed. "Ah, well. One has to be grateful to one's relatives, I suppose."
Charmain, oddly enough, was quite grateful to Aunt Sempronia too. Not that she was in the least grateful for being volunteered to look after an old, sick wizard whom she had never met. "She might have asked me!" she said, rather often, to her mother.
"I think she knew you would say no, dear," Mrs. Baker suggested eventually.
"I might have," Charmain said. "Or," she added, with a secretive smile, "I might not have."
"Dear, I'm not expecting you to enjoy it," Mrs. Baker said tremulously. "It's not at all nice. It's just that it would be so very kind"
"You know I'm not kind," Charmain said, and she went away upstairs to her white frilly bedroom, where she sat at her nice desk, staring out of her window at the roofs, towers, and chimneys of High Norland City, and then up at the blue mountains beyond. The truth was, this was the chance she had been longing for. She was tired of her respectable school and very tired of living at home, with her mother treating her as if Charmain were a tigress no one was sure was tame, and her father forbidding her to do things because they were not nice, or not safe, or not usual. This was a chance to leave home and do somethingthe one thingCharmain had always wanted to do. It was worth putting up with a wizard's house just for that. She wondered if she had the courage to write the letter that went with it.
For a long time she had no courage at all. She sat and stared at the clouds piling along the peaks of the mountains, white and purple, making shapes like fat animals and thin swooping dragons. She stared until the clouds had wisped away into nothing but faint mist against a blue sky. Then she said, "Now or nothing." After that she sighed, fetched her glasses up on...House of Many Ways. Copyright © by Diana Jones. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones (1934‒2011) wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards—and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter—her books are filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy.
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