Monday, June 23, 2014

AUNT MARIA by Diana Wynne Jones

While I don't consider myself an 'official' reviewer, I do enjoy sharing my limited opinions regarding the books I read. A lot of them are MG, but I occasionally run across a picture book or YA novel that stands out, so I include them when the mood hits me.

On a recent trip to the library, I picked up Diana Wynne Jones' The Pinhoe Egg. It's a substantial tome and a twisting tale that made my head spin, but once I straightened out the considerable cast of characters, I found it quite enjoyable. She's a clear-headed writer who manages to keep everyone in line and on their best behavior, and that appeals to me since I know how difficult a task that is to pull off. And in all fairness, this book might not have been such an effort on my part if I had read any of the earlier volumes of the series first. But they were not available at my local library, so I took what I could get.

But the writing impressed me so much that I wanted to see what else she had to offer. I went back to town and requested the first book in the series and am waiting for it to arrive. In the meantime, I managed to pick up Aunt Maria on my way out, and I'm so glad I did.

Aunt Maria - that's pronounced with a long I, like in the song, They Call The Wind Maria. What a gruesome and intriguing plot Ms. Jones has created in this much quicker read. It was a bit reminiscent of The Stepford Wives in some ways, but on a younger level. From the very first paragraph, the writing is extremely clever, and I instantly fell in love with Mig and her brother, Chris. And, unlike some stories, we know immediately that Aunt Maria is very, very bad. We also know, sadly, that the kids are going to make some huge, costly mistakes in their dealings with this tyrant and her cloister of old biddies who hide behind facades of sweet helplessness. 

I will warn that there are a couple of instances of profanity thrown into the mix, but aside from that I can recommend it as an entertaining read.


Cordelia Dinsmore


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