Charmain Baker is in over her head. Looking after Great-Uncle William's tiny cottage while he's ill should have been easy. But Great-Uncle William is better known as the Royal Wizard Norland, and his house bends space and time. Its single door leads to any number of places—the bedrooms, the kitchen, the caves under the mountains, the past, and the Royal Mansion, to name just a few.
By opening that door, Charmain has become responsible for not only the house, but for an extremely magical stray dog, a muddled young apprentice wizard, and a box of the king's most treasured documents. She has encountered a terrifying beast called a lubbock, irritated a clan of small blue creatures, and wound up smack in the middle of an urgent search. The king and his daughter are desperate to find the lost, fabled Elfgift—so desperate that they've even called in an intimidating sorceress named Sophie to help. And where Sophie is, can the Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer be far behind?
Of course, with that magical family involved, there's bound to be chaos—and unexpected revelations.
No one will be more surprised than Charmain by what Howl and Sophie discover.
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In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones (1934‒2011) wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards—and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter—her books are filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* It’s been a long time coming, but Jones has finally returned to the madcap world of Howl’s Moving Castle (1986) and Castle in the Air (1991) with an equally rollicking, enchantment-filled tale. Although the Wizard Howl (this time in the guise of an irritating, lisping little boy); his feisty wife, Sophie; and Calcifer the fire demon play important roles, the story centers on Charmain, a bookish teen. When Charmain’s great-uncle William, the king’s Royal Wizard, falls deathly ill and is taken in by elves for a cure, Charmain is sent to look after William’s house, which is, indeed, a house of many ways and rooms and magic within. She begins reading William’s books and discovers that she has inherited some of his gifts. Enriching this elaborate and satisfying comic fantasy are some delicious characters, including a little dog named Waif, who seems to be guarding Charmain; young Peter, who arrives to become the wizard’s apprentice; the elderly king and his mysteriously vanishing treasury; the evil heir-apparent; and a fearsome creature called a lubbock. Long-standing devotees of this richly textured world, as well as new fans (who may have first encountered it through the 2005 animated film of Howl’s Moving Castle), will find that their third visit fulfills every expectation. Grades 6-9. --Sally Estes
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