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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.