on 26 July 1999
Deep secret is a book that allows you to enter magic worlds. I always feel that I can 'get inside' Ms Wynne Jones's stories, and this one is no exception. It makes you wonder about the world around you and I feel that it allows you to wonder about magic around you in a completely realistic way. Probably one of the elements that adds to this effect is the convincing and realistic deccriptions, e.g. of the appearance of the centaur or the strange and monstrous sweaters that one of the ladies wears. These are books that I tend to read as slowly as possible, never skipping anything. I even divide it up in chapters per day, so as to prevent myself from reading it all in one go. Wonderful stuff!
on 13 June 2005
Fantasy and fun in a superbly imagined multiverse, this is undoubtedly one of DWJ's best books, and deserving of its stars. This story is full of laughter and doesn't take itself or the whole realm of fantasy/scifi too seriously. Any science-fiction fans with a sense of humour will delight in her hilarious description of a convention!
The key characters are delightfully engaging and you will find yourself wanting to know more of their escapades. The good news is that a second book (not strictly a follow-on, but set in the same worlds) called "The Merlin Conspiracy" is also available.
The only criticism is that the ending feels a little drawn out and seems to ramble. However, this would only knock off half a star rating at most, and the rest of the book is well worth the reading. Although aimed at 'adults', there is nothing in this book unsuitable for children, and it will also be enjoyed by younger readers with a good grasp of the genre or familiar with her other fantasy books.
Recommended to many friends, all of whom loved it. One of my personal favourites!
on 14 July 2013
I enjoyed this book tremendously. It is marketed as a book aimed at adults, and it does make reference to adult themes such as sex, but essentially it is the usual Diana Wynne Jones stuff - lots of humour, lively characterisation, an original and highly imaginative plot, and an indefinable creation of atmosphere that is unique to her writing.
The story is told from two viewpoints, one being a magid who is a rather endearingly pompous young man with a brave heart, a conscientious sense of duty and powerful magical gifts. The other is a slightly eccentric but also endearing young woman. Her younger brother, Nick, also features strongly (and is a central character in the sequel).
This story combines witty and warm-hearted satire at the expense of sci-fi/fantasy geeks, the publishing world, and writers' conventions, with a genuine sense of danger as this world collides with dark magic and truly nasty villains, plus an engaging love story woven through it. It has centaurs, parallel universes, geas, charismatic king-types, disembodied mentors, neurotics, Scarlatti, and women who have terrible taste in sweaters - what's not to like?
on 15 January 1999
This was the first book I had read by Diana Wynne Jones and from the back cover I wasn't too sure what to expect.
Pretty much by the second chapter I was hooked and loving it. The characters were very *real* and funny! The whole british roleplaying convention 'scene' while being hilarious, was such an accurate caricature!
I couldn't put it down til I'd finished and then was still chuckling!
on 9 September 2006
You know all those conspiracy theories about secret societies running the world? Well, as it turns out they have a basis in fact: the Magids are a group of magicians who answer to the mysterious "Upper Room" and whose job it is to maintain the balance of magic, keep an eye on magic-users in a myriad of worlds across the galaxy and, every now and then, give certain people a little nudge or two to get them (and events) going in the right direction. "Deep Secret" is the story of one Magid on Earth, Rupert Venables, and his attempt to find a successor for his recently deceased mentor Stan. It shouldn't really be a problem - there are a number of candidates, and all Rupert needs to do is pick the most suitable. So he gives fate a helping hand in order to bring all five candidates to a hotel in Wantchester, where he can interview them.
But once he gets there, he realises that NONE of them are suitable - and his problems don't stop there. A fantasy convention is logded in the hotel, trouble is brewing in the Koryfonic Empire (one of the worlds he is responsible for), Stan is haunting his car playing Scarlatti tapes, his neighbour Andrew keeps turning up in the most unexpected places, and to make matters worse, the most detested of the candidates Maree Mallory and her cousin Nick are rather inquisitive about Rupert's attempts to keep a lid on things - too inquisitive...
Sound confusing? It isn't when you read the book. Jones is far too good a storyteller for that. She weaves her character's seperate stories into a funny, smart, scary, magical, multi-layered tapestry that is enormous fun to read. A totally original story (no hero quests here, thank you very much!) engaging characters, lots of magic (I loved the Witchy Dance for Luck especially) and a sense of mischievous glee that underlies Jones's writing all combine to make "Deep Secret" totally irresistable.
on 6 April 1999
Rupert Venables is junior Magid,responsible for overseeing the balance of power - on earth and throughout the Koryfos Empire. Thrust into a political conflict spanning many worlds, he finds himself battling Good vs Evil - and in love! A Sci-Fi to delight adult readers, who grew-up relying upon the fantastic writing and amazing inventiveness of Diana Wynne Jones' childrens' books. Not to be missed.
on 7 December 2002
Deep Secret is another of Diana Wynne Jones' perfect books. (Howl's Moving Castle is the other.) Again DWJ takes a hero with all the ingredients of a first class pain in the gut and makes him lovable. But she doesn't repeat herself, no way! While Howl is a slitherer-outer, vain and a coward, Rupert Venables is a prat. Maree, the female protagonist, is just as unlikely a heroine as Rupert is a hero, and much more unlikely than Howl's Sophie. And yet Maree too carries it off. She doesn't change, but reveals her inner self which is just a prickly as the outer one. As for the plot, it's intricate, elaborate, fascinating stuff. Another book that re-repays re-re-reading.
This is one of the most mature and lengthy novels written by Diana Wynne Jones - who ranks among my top 10 favourite authors. Primarily a children's writer, she did also write some books aimed more at adults, or at least at older teenagers. Think of the 'Discworld' demographic as opposed to the 'Harry Potter' one. I'm not sure if 'Deep Secret' counts as an adult or teen book 'officially', but really it could be read and enjoyed by anyone from the age of about 14 upwards. The principal characters are all adults, apart from one teenager, and this alone makes it seem a more 'grown up' type of novel than many of her others.
The storyline centres on Rupert Venables, who is a magid - a sort of magical policeman - living on planet Earth. As in many Wynne Jones novels, she presents the magical world as a series of parallel universes and interconnected 'worlds', some with and some without overt magic. Rupert - who is a likeable character and narrator - has two major challenges on his hands; finding a replacement for his recently dead mentor, and shoring up a crumbling empire on another world. The two ultimately become intertwined, with things coming to a head at a sci-fi convention. This setting alone seems like a tribute to fantasy fiction fans, whilst also poking some gentle fun at them.
As with all Wynne Jones books, it is engaging and easy to read, with a plot that draws you in from the start. Although not written as a comedy, her writing always offers plenty of amusing lines. It's well paced and full of interesting events and twists, although I did guess one of the twists early on. There's something comforting in reading one of her novels, in that you know that everything will turn out all right in the end. It somehow makes it easier to enjoy the story. Yet that's not to say she avoids unpleasantness - the cosy, entertaining style often hides a few little barbs of real tragedy, and this book is no exception.
I felt the plot was more complex and deep than in some of her novels (not that I'm criticising those), and she took more time over the ending - one of my criticisms of her as an author is that she tends to rush her endings. However there was none of that here. It was a really satisfying read, and I'm really sad that there will never be a sequel (she sadly died not long after this novel was published). Nevertheless, it stands alone as a strong, well written and above all very entertaining work of fantasy fiction.
on 15 July 2013
The worlds that Wynne Jones creates and her use of magic are beyond compare. The magic always seems credible in the hands of her creations. The plot is rich and sometimes cruel, which is a welcome feature compared to more saccharine offerings from other fantasy writers. Her evil characters really are, not by declaration, but by deed.
on 5 November 2002
I'm rarley dazzled by books, but Deep Secret has fantastic characters, plot and original touches which captivated and entertained every reader I've encountered. Written in the fantasy genre, there are elements of magic, other realms and mythical creatures to be found amoung the action and adventure. The intertwined storyline came together beautifully in the end, and I was astonished at the skillful writing yet disappointed that I had no more to read!