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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favourite (if not favourite) fantasy fiction author. Fire and Hemlock is my favourite DWJ book, with Howl's Moving Castle a close second.

Negatives:

1. Too many sub-plots and characters introduced within a short period of time. It was total chaos.

2. Random events inserted in, in a desperate attempt to be funny, but only deviated from the plot causing confusion.

3.Rupert's sudden realisation over his reaction/ feelings concerning Maree Mallory wasn't convincing and a rather haphazard job.

4. The story-line was good, but I didn't really feel the magician the same way you do in Fire and Hemlock, where the magic is introduced in a subtle manner. Here everything is thrown at you, until everything just felt "meh"

5. DWJ tries too hard to make this book "adult" and "sophisticated" by having characters with "sophisticated" love life's, until it was more Bridget Jones than her usual fantasy fare.

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Overall, NOT a bad book and I think if I persevered I might have enjoyed it but I lost interest.
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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!
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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!
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on 13 January 2015
Amazing book! You never know what's going to happen or how something will be solved. I was hooked from the start and couldn't put it down. Like some of her other books, it deals with the concept of different worlds and travelling between them. But everything goes down at a fantasy fiction convention which was fun. All the characters were unique and believable, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of them. I read The Merlin Conspiracy before this but I think it's chronologically supposed to go after. I highly recommend them both. It's nice to read a fantasy book for adults that doesn't go over the top, isn't full of random sex scenes and is set in pretty much our world.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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on 12 December 2002
This is DWJ's first adult fantasy novel, although the only 'adult' thing about it is that the main characters are not children; there's nothing that makes it unsuitable for a younger audience. I have read all DWJ novels (you should too!) and this is my favourite. The book is (initially) set in our world. With her usual skill, DWJ mixes the everyday with the fantastic and creates a plausible multiverse. The multiple worlds are DWJ's favourite device, occurring, in different versions, in many of her works. Excellent.
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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.
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