Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Her name should have been Diana Epic-Wynne Jones

Title: Dark Lord of Derkholm
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Format: Paperback
Pages: 528
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Series #: 1 of 2
Date Started: August 5, 2009
Date Finished: August 8, 2009

Rating: A+

Description (from Barnes & Noble): Mr. Chesney operates Pilgrim Parties, a tour group that takes paying participants into an outer realm where the inhabitants play frightening and foreboding roles. The time has come to end the staged madness . . . but can it really be stopped? Master storyteller Diana Wynne Jones serves up twists and turns, introduces Querida, Derk, Blade, and Shona and a remarkable cast of wizards, soldiers, kings, dragons, and griffins, and mixes in a lively dash of humor. With all the ingredients of high fantasy, this unforgettable novel will delight fans old and new.

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First, let me say "THANK YOU!" to Jess S. for lending me this book, as well as "Sorry" for not getting it back to you for so long. Jess lent this book to me months ago after I led the book club she & my sister are in (and my friends and I started years ago), and the book I had chosen was also by Diana Wynne Jones (Howl's Moving Castle; read it). Knowing how much I liked Jones' work, she let me borrow it, and I took it, intending to read it that weekend, but I was in the middle of a bunch of series and ended up putting it to the side. Once August came along, I was finally kind-of finished with all the series (I say kind-of because none of the libraries in Passaic County have the newest book in the Dragon Slippers trilogy... grrrr...).

The point is, once I finally sat down to read Dark Lord of Derkholm, I was hooked. It is such an awesome adventure with wizards and griffins and dragons. But the best part of this book is the cast of characters. These are by far the most reluctant heroes you will ever meet. Wizard Derk just wants to be left alone to create more animals, his two human children just want to go their schools, and his griffin children want life to continue on as it always has. Unfortunately, the antagonist, Mr. Chesney, chooses Derk to play the role of the Dark Lord during that year's Pilgrim Parties (sort of like role-playing, only you can actually die, and sometimes you've even been signed up to die). Now the whole family is forced to get into their new roles, while others in the community are trying to make everything fall apart around their heads.

It's a fun read with humor and action and a really surprising twist. All of the characters are so well-developed that you actually feel like you've known them you're whole life. I especially loved the griffins and the cranky old dragon. And I just found out there's a sequel, so luckily the fun doesn't have to end. A+

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