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"For the first time in the [26-year]history of the survey—conducted five times since 1982—the overall adult literary r... More

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Author: Diana Wynne Jones

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Publisher: Greenwillow Books, Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Charmain Baker is a young girl must care for her Great-Uncle while elves treat him for his illness. Despite her family’s background in magic, Charmain's mother (who does not possess magic skills) sheltered Charmain from the arts her whole life. Now she is caring for her relative; dealing with a special, stray dog and a slow wizard apprentice; and trying to learn the regular household duties to get along. On top of that, she helps out at the Royal Library and gets tangled in web involving the magical royal family. What seemed to be a simple task of house-sitting turns out to be far more complex than Charmain thought. This is a sequel to Howl's Moving Castle, a fantasy adventure set in a magical kingdom.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 12; read yourself: 10 to 12

Interest Level: 10 and up

Reading Level: 5.4

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: This is a fascinating fantasy book of magic, wizards, and mazes. Overall, I found the novel captivating and a fun read. There weren’t many parts I disliked. Some parts were confusing because of the various character names and sub-plots. It also took some time to get fully caught up with where the first book left off. The adventures brought back memories of when I was younger and would pretend to have tall tales of my own. I enjoyed every moment of reading it and would definitely buy this book for all of my junior high friends.

Adult Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Pros: Lots of adventure and realistic characters make this a great story to read alone and share with friends.

Cons: There were times when the author had too many details. They took a lot of time to read and sort out, and they need to be read (or the next event won't make sense), but it was tedious.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. Preteens and teens will enjoy the fantasy, which has enough realism to connect with their lives.

If You Liked This Book, Try: MAGICKEEPERS: The Eternal Hourglass (Book 1)   ALEX AND THE IRONIC GENTLEMAN   HOUSE OF DANCE

Educational Themes: This is a story meant to be read for leisure.

Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure, middle grade series

Date(s) Reviewed: June 2009

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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