This is a review for House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ I give this book 5 stars, I loved it!
House of Many Ways follows the story of Charmaine Baker as she suddenly finds herself house sitting for her magician uncle while he is away. All Charmaine wants to do is quietly read a book and help the King with his private library but nothing goes quite according to her plan. Her uncle's house is a huge mess, he forgot to mention that he had an apprentice coming and Charmaine is completely unaccustomed to dealing with magic or doing housework. When the King agrees to have her help with his library she thinks she will get a break from all of the weird things in her uncle's house but she soon finds that not
all is as it seems at the palace either. The King is scouring his
library for clues to find a large pile of gold missing from the treasury
for over 200 years and the Princess asked a witch to help them search.
Charmaine is pulled into the mystery when she saves a toddler from falling off the roof of the palace and finds herself talking to a fully fledged wizard in disguise. A spell is cast to help her find any clues in the library that they need to save the kingdom. With the spell cast all of the seemingly unconnected things happening around Charmaine begin to connect. It is a race against time, she has to follow the trail of clues and solve all of the mysteries before it is too late.
Diana Wynne Jones weaves an interesting tale. I was half finished with the book before I even noticed! She reveals just enough to keep you interested and keeps leading you along until the very end. The seemingly random events of the book all tie together in a surprising way. You can't help but love the characters from poor Charmaine who just wants to read peacefully, to the directionally challenged apprentice wizard, to the doddering old King and the wizard disguised as a precocious child who loves rocking horses. Nothing is quite as it seems in this story and if you aren't paying attention you'll get lost in the House of Many Ways!
(This book is a sequel to Howl's Moving Castle and Castle In The Air but it can stand alone. Some of the characters from it's prequels make appearances but it is not necessary to have read the prequels to follow this story.)