If you love a good fantasy and have never heard of Diana Wynne Jones (1934-2011), you are in for a treat. Although she was an extremely prolific writer, I’ve noticed that many Americans are not very familiar with this Brit. She wrote for children and for adults. She wrote novels and stories, but she also wrote plays, and essays, poetry and humor. Additionally, she edited many short story collections and received a long list of prestigous awards. Visit Wikipedia for her complete bibliography.
Her books that I most enjoy re-reading are the Crestomanci books. She published the series over a long period, releasing many other works in between. Charmed Life, which introduced Crestomanci, was released in 1977 and her final installment, The Pinhoe Egg was published in 2006. All told, there are 6 novels and 4 novellas in the series. Each work can be read alone and enjoyed in and of itself. However, if you really like to read things in order, don’t just go by the publication date; the author herself suggested her preferred reading order. I myself started with Charmed Life, but after reading all of the titles, I can see why starting with The Many lives of Christopher Chant is the good starting place. The whole series has recently been re-released with beautiful new cover art.
Her novel that has received the most notice (and praise) worldwide is, of course, Howl’s Moving Castle (1986), which Hayao Miyazaki turned into an animated film released in Japan in 2004, and for which she was awarded the Phoenix Award from the Children’s Literature Association in 2005. There have been some stellar and scary cover art produced for this title
|Howl's Moving Castle Cover Art|
|1986 1st UK edition||1987 1st US edition||2005 Movie tie-in||2010 British paperback||2018 US paperback|
Fans of Terry Pratchett, Christopher Moore and satirical parody (in general) will enjoy her non-fiction title, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (1996), and the companion novels, Dark Lord of Derkholm (1998) and Year of the Griffin (2000)
If you’d like to read a heartfelt piece about Diana, written by someone’s who knew her well, you can find Neil Gaiman’s reflection on her passing here.
(photo credit Robin McKinley, reposted from neilgaiman.com with permission)