Top critical review
on 21 August 2016
I had only read one other book by the author, the novel, "Howl's Moving Castle", which was adapted by Hayao Miyazaki in the anime film of the same name. Having enjoyed it tremendously, plus the fact that one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, is a huge fan, made me seek out her other YA fantasy books.
"Enchanted Glass" (2010), the last book published before Jones's death in 2011, features a somewhat bumbling professor, Andrew Hope, who is often "in a world of his own", as the other characters observe of him, and who just so happens to be the grandson of a powerful magician, Jocelyn Brandon. When the old magician dies, Andrew finds that he not only inherits the Melstone house, but also a field-of-care, which is an area of magical responsibility that his grandfather had been in charge of in the surrounding village.
Meanwhile, a young orphan, Aidan Cain, runs away from his foster home in London and lands up mysteriously at Andrew's doorstep. Even as Andrew tries to help the boy, who reminds him of his younger self, a bigger challenge comes his way, in the form of an occultic nemesis, O. Brown, in the village, who is fencing off parts of his property and warning him about his responsibility to keep "counterparts" out of the area, the former which infuriates him, and the latter confusing him. Andrew soon realises that he needs more than his own middling powers which he had not even realised he possessed to protect Aidan and his property.
A myriad of colourful characters enliven the book, like his housekeeper, Mrs Stock, who is more than a little insubordinate, and who sabotages his attempts to move the furniture around, Mr Stock the grumpy old gardener, Mr Stock (who is not in any way related to Mrs Stock, as half the village carries the same surname) who dumps giant inedible vegetables in the kitchen when he is upset, Andrew's inevitable love interest, Stashe, Mr Stock's niece, and soon secretary, as well as Shaun, the oafish nephew of Mrs Stock, who becomes another employee he cannot afford.
The first half of the book, which featured the shadowy figures that were in pursuit of Aidan, and the mystery surrounding his parentage, was promising, and the comedy provided by Andrew's relationship with his help, was entertaining. However, just when things were beginning to heat up, there is a sense that the story folded in upon itself in very hastily, as if in a rush for it all to resolve, which led to a very truncated ending. I suspect that this was a raw if not unfinished work which was published close to the author's death and during her period of sickness, and having read other reviews, am heartened to learn that this was widely considered to be one of her least successful books. If that is the case, then I hope to rediscover the genius I found in "Howl's Moving Castle" in her other works.