I also read Fire and Hemlock, and listened to Year of the Griffin. Fire and Hemlock is always better than I remember it (albeit very disturbing) and Year of the Griffin is one of the most perfect books I have read. Ever.
Jacket Blurb: When Controller Borasus receives a strange letter from Earth he is both curious and alarmed. Someone has activated an ancient machine and is using it for most trivial purposes. Surely no one would dare to tamper with Reigner seals in this way? Yet the effects of such interference resonate throughout the universe, so he decides to go to Hexwood Farm to investigate…
On Hexwood Estate, Ann watches the mysterious comings and goings with interest. She knows something deadly is going on – or is Hexwood simply altering her too?
If you were cooking up stories and experimenting with mixing recipes, and for some reason you used both fantasy and science fiction, mixed in some Arthurian legends, bits of dystopia and portal fantasy, a pinch of Norse mythology, and then gave it a nice thick glaze of escape rooms, you would wind up with something very like Hexwood.
Yes, I love it.
Some Tips on Reading Hexwood
Keep a character list as you go along. A lot of characters have more than one name, nicknames, or are going under a fake name.
Keep track of timelines??? I mean it’s pretty much impossible, but make a list of anything weird or contradictory you notice about how time is passing, how different characters remember (or don’t remember) certain events, etc.
Don’t trust any of the characters. Pretty much all of the characters in this novel are supremely confident that they know what’s going on and what’s real. Most of them are wrong at least once.
Of course, you can ignore all of the above tips and still enjoy the book, so if you would rather do that, go for it! The first time I read Hexwood I had no idea what was happening most of the time, and it still became one of my favorite books. Peeling back the layers of what’s going on, both in the plot and with the characters, is really well-paced and structured and it just MAKES ME REALLY HAPPY, OKAY?
Also did you know you could rebel against tyranny by keeping everyone well-stocked on thrift clothes? Hexwood will show you how!
Truly Horrifying Hexwood Covers
That one with Mordion in the red coat will give me nightmares.
Happy Day 9 of Social Distancing. The locals are very restless, but Diana Wynne Jones’ books are keeping them from rioting. For now.
I listened to the audiobook of Dark Lord of Derkholm, thanks to hoopla, narrated by Gildart Jackson. I’ve previously listened to Dracula by the same narrator, so that was a little jarring at first, but I really like his narration and voices.
The only exceptions were some of his creature voices. The narrator chose a sort of nasal, bird-like voice for the griffins, which I understand in principle, but in practice it can be unpleasant to listen to after a while. He gave the dragons and demons very gravelly, scrape-y voices, so those could be a little tiring too.
Jacket blurb: Everyone – wizards, soldiers, farmers, elves, dragons, kings and queens alike – is fed up with Mr Chesney’s Pilgrim Parties: groups of tourists from the world next door who descend en masse every year to take the Grand Tour. What they expect are all the trappings of a grand fantasy adventure, including the Evil Enchantress, Wizard Guides, the Dark Lord, Winged Minions, and all. And every year different people are chosen to play these parts. But now they’ve had enough: Mr Chesney may be backed by a very powerful demon, but the Oracles have spoken. Now it’s up to the Wizard Derk and his son Blade, this year’s Dark Lord and Wizard Guide, not to mention Blade’s griffin brothers and sisters, to save the world from Mr Chesney’s depredations.
I know I keep saying this about all the DWJ books I’ve read this month, but it’s been a few years since I first read and loved this one, too. The most surprising parts for me this time were how Dark it is (even though that’s literally in the title) and how upsetting the Derk/Mara subplot is! Fortunately, all works out in the end. Sort of. Except for all the bodies. There are a lot of bodies.
I honestly can’t believe how MUCH is packed into this book. It’s simultaneously a) deconstructing the entire post-Tolkien epic fantasy genre; b) introducing at least 8 main characters; c) giving each of those characters subplot growth arcs; d) introducing and explaining all of the different fantasy races and their subplots; e) satirizing the modern world and modern colonialism; f) criticizing modern habits like the glorification of violence, subjugation of peoples for their own good, racism, classism, etc etc etc.
Somehow Dark Lord of Derkholm succeeds juggling all of its many balls. And it’s fun and magical, too.
I hope March Magics is going well for you all!
I’m currently listening to Howl’s Moving Castle (via Library2Go), and then I’m going to listen to Derkholm’s sequel, Year of the Griffin (back to hoopla).