Author Diana Wynne Jones
Cover Artist
Publication information
UK Release Date 1993
US Release Date


No matter what you expect when you first open this book, you will find that you are inevitably wrong. Every character in the book plays multiple parts, experiences multiple realities, and does so in a set of scenes that are presented out of any understandable order. And while the complexities of the plot begin to make sense toward the end of the book, they make far more sense upon the second, or third, or even fourth re-reading, because every scene illuminates something that you have read about, or will read about, in another.

Let's begin with the beginning -- Part 1 of the 9 parts of the book. There is an organization, and a letter makes its way through the organization, reporting a problem employee, or a problem machine, or both. There are maintenance people, and various complicated machines, a modern setting, but hints of intergalactic happenings. People report to other people. Things don't really resolve themselves. So that's that, then.

Now there's a boy, in a wood somewhere. He meets a robot. He has no memories to speak of. The robot explains himself, sort of. They walk down one path and go onto another path. That's that again.

Now there's a girl, in a village in England, who has the flu and feels very sick and weak, so that she is made to stay home from school in bed, where she is bored.

Her name is Ann, and she has one younger brother Martin. Her parents run the greengrocer's in the village. Usually she goes to school, and has chores to perform in the shop. She seems to have imaginary friends, but nothing much happens to her.

Could this be the most mixed-up, yet deadly dull Diana Wynne Jones story ever written?

Well, no.

Sections Edit

This is a very organized book, for one with no comprehensible narrative structure. One way it is organized is by the use of section breaks. The nine major sections are labeled "Part One", Part Two", and so on; each has at least five subsections, labeled with an arabic numeral.


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