House of Many Ways
Author Diana Wynne Jones
Cover Artist
Publication information
UK Release Date 2008
US Release Date 2008
Series Wizard's Castle
Preceded by Castle in the Air
Followed by '


House of Many Ways is a sweet continuation of stories relating to two of Diana Wynne Jones' great early characters -- Howl the wizard and his wife Sophie Hatter.

This time it centers on a self-absorbed teenage girl named Charmain Baker, who is placed in the position of having to look after the house of a wizard (Wizard Norland) who is off with the elves for medical treatment.

Charmain is superlatively unsuited for the task of taking care of any house, much less a wizard's.  She has been raised by an anxious mother who spends all her efforts to make herself and her household always appear respectable.  As a result, Charmain has never been allowed to do any househod chores, to launder her own clothing, or to do anything much except sit around reading books.

Her efforts to figure out how to do all this are complicated by the magical figures that seem to surround the house, as well as the strange folded-space architecture of the house itself.

When an accident-prone young man arrives to become the wizard's apprentice, Charmain is greatly put out, although it turns out that the boy (Peter Regis) actually has some of the basic skills that Charmain herself sorely lacks.  Peter moves into one of the many empty bedrooms and sets about cleaning the house, bullying Charmain into helping him wash the dishes and do the wizard's mountains of laundry, and generally balancing out her self-absorption with his own haphazard practicality.

The plot of the story speeds up as Charmain and Peter deal with angry Kobolds, royal money problems, a visiting sorceress and her strange and powerful household, and a threat to the kingdom that can only be solved by many minds figuring out what is going wrong and what to do about it.

This is an effervescent story that's fun to read and a wonderful chance to revisit some beloved characters from other books.  Well worth the trouble.


High NorlandEdit