Something is rotten in the village of Melstone.
Aidan Cain has had the worst week of his life. Creepy, sinister beings want him dead. What's a boy to do? With danger nipping at his heels, Aidan flees to Melstone, a village teeming with magic of its own. There he is taken in by Andrew Hope, the new master of Melstone House, who has some supernatural troubles too. Someone is stealing power from the area—mingling magics—and chaos is swiftly rising. Are Aidan's and Andrew's magical dilemmas connected somehow? And will they be able to unite their powers and unlock the secrets of Melstone before the countryside comes apart at the seams?
Have you read Diana Wynne Jones? She’s famous (and rightfully so) for writing fantastical stories about worlds tilted just enough off the reality axis to make strange happenings normal, and to make off-kilter responses to those happenings absolutely necessary. Did that make sense? Let me try again. DWJ is a genius, and she’ll show you magic in a way that is completely new, and sideways, and just-as-it-should-be, all at the same time. Stumbling into one of her worlds only becomes, as
said of Wonderland, ‘curioser and curiouser.’ Alice
Is it quite clear that I loved this book? I’ll tell you why, then. Enchanted Glass is a double story: it follows thirty year-old professor Andrew Hope and a quite young (12? 13?) Aidan Cain. Andrew has been given a task, but isn’t quite sure what it entails. Aidan is being chased by dangerous not-humans. They each have magic, and they are each drawn to Melstone House… But what are they to do about Aidan’s predicament, and what is Andrew’s inheritance that he can’t find or remember? Unraveling these mysteries will take all of the courage, concentration and luck that both Andrew and Aidan can muster. It is a challenge that will change Melstone, and their lives, forever.
What that summary doesn’t convey is the charm and wit and rightness of Jones’ writing. While there’s always a ‘something large and potentially world threatening’ going on in the background, the characters live very much in the moment, and their actions feel real and justified. Those characters are also authentic: if they’re smart, they’re often blind to a particular problem. If they seem simple, there is something hiding beneath the surface. And even the side characters are never, ever extraneous to the story. That is why a story about a small, magical village feels important and true and beautiful, and why I love Diana Wynne Jones’ writing.
If I must find something to pick over, it’s that there aren’t any female main characters in this story. But there is generational diversity (old, young, in-between!) and species diversity, and most importantly, the end result is a magical tale masterfully told.
Recommended for: all ages, fans of fantasy, fans of Diana Wynne Jones, and anyone who liked J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.