A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{August 22, 2011}   The Game by Diana Wynne Jones

Plot: Halley is an orphan living under her grandmother’s regime of rule and order. But after visiting the forbidden mythosphere – a world of interconnected myths and stories – she is sent to her aunts in Ireland in disgrace. There she meets her many cousins and is introduced to the Game which takes her back into the mythosphere and will reveal her family’s many secrets.

A new (to me) Diana Wynne Jones book!

The Game is as fun and as easy to read as any Wynne Jones book. It is, however, my least favorite of those I have read so far . The characters are less quirky (even the suspicious relative are less selfish and horrible) and the situations less funny. And on the whole the story can be bit confusing. The frame story is quite simple: a little girl with a strict upbringing is sent to live with her chaotic aunts and cousins. But on top of this, Wynne Jones has placed layers of stories and references. It’s really quite beautiful when you step back but I kept having to turn to the annex at the end (which nicely summarized the mythology and astrology/nomy that underlie the novel) to understand what was really going on. I consider myself quite well read but most of the mythical names are transformed in such a way that you can’t even guess what they refer to until you are told. I had a constant feeling of “oh, is that what that was about?”. Besides for a novel centered around a game that all the kids want to play, it didn’t sound too interesting in and of itself: just a scavenger hunt, and one that isn’t as hard as it could have been. The most exciting part of the novel is the escape from uncle Jolyon in the last few chapters and that indeed is quite an adventure involving giant Highlanders, Maenads and Baba Yaga but it is too little too late.

This novel reminded me a bit of Stardust by Neil Gaiman. The idea of a magical world not far from the one we live in, living stars and intertwinned stories are things both novels share. Stardust had a more coherent plot (and crossdressing air-pirates) but if you liked Gaiman’s novel, you might find something to enjoy in this one.

I sound like I’m bashing the book but really I just have much higher standards for Wynne Jones books because she is made of brilliance. It’s a good novel but start with Howl’s Moving Castle or Charmed Life.

Challenges: None


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