I was so excited when I recently stumbled upon this collection of stories by Diana Wynne Jones in my local library, that it was one of the first books I checked out with my brand new library card. My sister has been a nearly lifelong acolyte of Jones, and rightly so, admiring her masterful storytelling, fantastical worlds and strong, unique characters. When I was younger, a horrible rendition of one of Diana Wynne Jones’ books-on-tape sadly turned me off of her writing for a time. I had been so distracted by the horrible over-acting of the narrator that I completely missed the wonder and nuances of Jones’ magical tales.
Luckily when I hit my late teens, enough time had passed between the scarring book-on-tape experience, that I was able to delve in to her literature anew and really understand why my sister was so in love with Jones’ writing. At long last I got all the excitement my sister had spouted about this legendary fantasy author, and I was hooked. That’s why I was thrilled to discover Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories a few weeks ago, and it didn’t disappoint.
A deliciously thick tome, this collection features 1 novella and 15 short stories all tying together fantasy, mystery and the essential message that good things happen to those who dust themselves off and dive right back in to the thick of things. One of my favorite stories, called “Little Dot” was told from the perspective of a cat who was owned by an incompetent wizard who is suddenly called upon to defeat a horrific beast, and how he discovers the courage to do so. Other stories range from titles like, “The Fluffy Pink Toadstool,” “The Plague of Peacocks,” and “The Fat Wizard.”
Each tale is peppered with wit, charm, fantasy and a quirky twist, living up to the heart we have all come to know and love that courses through Jones’ stories. Collections like this are sort of staggering, when you think about how much creativity writers like Jones’ mind must have been bursting with, in order to capture such rich tales on paper. Unexpected Magic, Collected Stories, enables you to steal away some precious hours with Diana Wynne Jones, in her marvelous imagination.