For those who have not yet heard of Diana Wynne Jones, she is kind of like the JK Rowling of twenty years ago. What I mean here is that she is a British writer who was writing popular children's and YA fantasy back when I was a kid and teenager. Among her better-known works are the Chrestomanci series (Witch Week, The Lives of Christopher Chant, The Pinhoe Egg) and Howl's Moving Castle.
House of Many Ways is advertised as "the sequel to Howl's Moving Castle". I found that misleading, because HMC already had a sequel, Castle in the Air. But, I can imagine that after HMC was made into a popular animated film by my beloved Miyazaki, Jones was allowed or even encouraged by her publisher to write more books in that vein. I can only approve of that, as HMC has always been one of my favorites of her titles. Admittedly my most favorites are a nearly unknown and rather bleak book called Homeward Bounders - look that up in your local library for a different view of Jones - and the YA sci fi title Tale of Time City.
Charmain Baker's life is turned upside when her bossy aunt Sempreponia sends her to look after Great-Uncle William's house. Everyone just assumes that she has been taught enough magic to manage. Why is that important? Well, Great-Uncle William is the Wizard of Norland. Her first mistake is not reading the detailed instructions the wizard leaves for her. Her second mistake is throwing the soap in the magical fireplace. Could her third mistake be her last?
For those who already know and love Jones, you are probably already planning to read this book. It is definitely worthwhile, although not quite as good as last year's Pinhoe Egg. For those who have not read Jones before, I would suggest starting with The Lives of Christopher Chant or Howl's Moving Castle. I strongly recommend her work for anyone who likes Harry Potter, and yes, I realize that means most readers. Three and a half stars.