Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
A big disappointment from a usually great author
on 27 December 2000
Can someone who liked this book please explain to me why? I keep thinking there must be something I'm missing, because usually Diana Wynne Jones is so good. Let me say straight off that I'm a real fan and have been for ten years, and I don't diss anything gratuitously. But I want to agree with the earlier person who said that this book is awful. Sure, the concept is intriguing - I've heard this described as "the novel of the Tough Guide" and that pretty much sums it up - but the sense of a good plot and of deeply engaging with characters that marks all her novels up to and including Deep Secret is missing here. She seems to start so many stories in this book, but never gives most of them a chance to get going. Fifty pages from the end I was thinking it was about time she started tying all the loose ends up. Twenty pages from the end I finally admitted to myself that she'd bungled. She wasn't going to make it, and she didn't. I can't think what went wrong, but I think this book should never have been published. I'm only giving it the second star in memory of her earlier, much better books. Please, if this book has been anyone's first introduction to Diana Wynne Jones, get one of her earlier books and give her another chance.