Aug 6, 2010

Castle in the Air

by Diana Wynne Jones

I feel almost shamed to write this. Not only did I start out late joining in on Jenny's marvelous Diana Wynne Jones week, but apparently I picked the wrong book to begin with! I wanted to read The Homeward Bounders, and more particularly the Puss in Boots rewrite Jones did, but turns out my library had neither (one was checked out, the other non-existant). I was there in the middle of the week and scrabbled through the shelves: must get me some DWJ! I could only find three shelved: Fire and Hemlock, something about a griffin, and Castle in the Air.

Perhaps I should have gone with the griffin book. I liked this one well enough to start with. It begins set in a desert country, with our hero Abdullah being a daydreaming carpet-seller. He unexpectedly comes to own a magic flying carpet, and it whisks him away to a beautiful garden where he meets a lovely princess straight out of his dream. Abdullah falls madly in love, but his princess is stolen by a djinn (who has, it happens, been stealing princess from all over the world) so he sets off in pursuit. The quest has lots of unexpected bumps, as Abdullah takes up with an out-of-work soldier, a genie in a bottle with evil intentions (every wish it grants goes bad somehow) and a mysterious black cat (whom the soldier is besotted with). I was enjoying the adventure well enough until I ran into characters from the first book- for this is a sequel. I knew that when I started off, but I thought it would be able to stand alone and I'd figure out what was going on. But when Abdullah gets mixed up with wizards, more than one djinn and a score of scheming princess (who aren't going to just sit around meekly being held captive) it just all got mildly confusing and I found I suddenly didn't care much about these characters. Abdullah's constant flattery was starting to get old. I'd been a bit taken aback how suddenly he fell in love with his princess at the beginning, but now discovered I didn't really care why she was upset and acting coolly towards him. My favorite character was the cat- until she became something else...

Sorry, Jenny. I just didn't like this one by the time I reached the end. I should have planned my week better! Maybe I'll quickly re-read Dogsbody so I can gush about that tomorrow.

Rating: 2/5 ........ 298 pages, 1990

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  1. I'm embarrassed to say I'd never heard of Diana Wynne Jones. Sorry this one didn't work out for you but thanks for the link to Jenny's Books.

  2. Don't be sorry! I don't know that the griffin one would have been better--it's a sequel too, though only a few of the characters from the first book get much face time. I like Castle in the Air but it's not my favorite... I'd like to say, Keep trying! but I am afraid I will be encouraging you to read more books you won't end up liking any better. :p

  3. Carol- You should definitely read some of her stuff! My favorites are Dogsbody and Fire and Hemlock, but then, I haven't read many. Jenny really has the great recommendation list for DWJ.

    Jenny- Oh, I'm already liking the Chrestomanci story much better! And if that one falls flat for me too, I'm just going to read Dogsbody again and be happy.

  4. I still haven't read any DWJ!!! I really should though. Sorry this one didn't work too well for you. Did you know that Hayao Miyazaki made this book into an anime? It's called Castle in the Sky! Your little one may like it too!

  5. This is great -- I wish I could write such an entertaining review about a book I didn't care that much about! :-)

  6. Howl's Moving Castle is much better than Castle in the Air. I'm not sure I really like Castle in the Air, and I *am* a D.W.J. fangirl.

    It's definitely not her strongest book, though I did like that it wasn't set in England.


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