A moment of silence for one of the greats … Dianna Wynne Jones

guide1Likely as not you never read one of Dianna Wynne Jones wonderful, archly funny and slightly dark fantasy novels which generally poked fun at the conventions of fantasy. (And one, Deep Secret, which also poked fun at SciFi & Fantasy conventions.)

If you have read her then likely as not you spent too much time in the library when you were younger, just as your correspondent did (does).

She was best known for writing Howl’s Moving Castle, which became the basis for the Hayao Miyazaki movie of the same name; and for her Chronicles of Chrestomanci which JK Rowling borrowed rather heavily from.

As Christopher Priest notes in his fine obituary for Jones:

Of the apparent coincidences, Jones said generously to this newspaper in 2003: "I think that she [Rowling] read my books as a young person and remembered lots of stuff; there are so many striking similarities."

She had a great skeptical eye which she earned. As a child she was evacuated out of London to the Lakes District where she encountered two well-know children’s book authors: Arthur Ransome, who thought she and her friends were making too much noise, and Beatrix Potter, who slapped her.

While I can recommend any number of her books, here are a select few which I particularly like:

  • The Tough Guide To Fantasyland — lampoons all those tropes created by Tolkien and C.S. Lews (both of whom she studied under) in tour guide form.
  • The Darklord of Derkholm – a fantasy world rebels after being turned into a theme park for people from earth wanting a fantasy world adventure.
  • Archer’s Goon – A distinctly troll like debt collector invades a family home to collect the 2,000 words the father owes to a wizard.
  • The Ogre Downstairs – is the new stepfather actually an ogre or just behaving like one?
  • The Chrestomanci series

But, likely as not, you won’t read them. Your loss, not mine.


4 thoughts on “A moment of silence for one of the greats … Dianna Wynne Jones

  1. Loved HMC, as book and as movie. Have put Tough Guide in Amazon cart again, and really will order it this time. Will be read by wife as well as self, and suspect that at least one of the two kids will be far enough into both fantasy and mockery that they will read it in their teens.

  2. I will have to look for Archer’s Goon. I have no idea how Howl’s Moving Castle, the book compares to Howl’s Moving Castle, the movie, but I reread the book every now and then…

  3. Thanks for the tip, and very sorry I hadn’t run across her stuff earlier. Two devoured last weekend, and the rest on order!


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