July 07, 2006

Turning Back the Clock

Prolific and imaginative British author Diana Wynne-Jones is the undisputed queen of the fantastic. Her work inspires both small children and adults with tales of the charming, slightly crazed and magical. Many people are just getting familiar with her due to the popularity of Howl's Moving Castle an animated adaptation of her novel by the ever awesome Hayao Miyazaki.

Wynne-Jones manipulates plot and tension by mixing a little of the known with the unknown. In A Tale of Time City, we are immersed into the known: the chaotic exodus of London's children into the countryside during the eve of WWII. We are immediately drawn into Vivian Smith's worried mind as she clutches her possessions and strains to stay unmussed and still and clean on the journey to the unknown Cousin Marty. How awful, to be sent to a relative she doesn't know, in exchange for safety. And what about her Mum and Dad back in London? Vivian is full of worries, but never in her wildest concerns would strangers, believing she was some nefarious creature, turn up and steal her away -- to another dimension. Time City flowers as a place of ultimate strange futuristic marvels -- butter pies and low-grav belts, time ghosts and mechanized boats. But not all is different in the future. Deceitful people still exist, and things could go very wrong for everyone, if Vivian doesn't think what she can do to help. Time City is on the verge of collapse, and Vivian's got to get home!

An exciting and fun novel to find again after all this time. Wynne-Jones' work is timeless, suspensful and enjoyable.


DaviMack said...

OK, love, where'd you get the perky pills? We discussed this: you leave the perky pills behind when reviewing, because you need to be honest ... and honestly? You really loved it that much? It didn't bother you that the ending was all enigmatic & annoying, as so many of Wynne-Jones' works tend to be? You like not having an understanding of what happened?

Given, I've picked up a fair share of the Wynne-Jones books ... but I've also been known to throw them across the room when I'm done. Yes, I've broken the vow never to pick up another, but at least I know that, like most movies, they're just fluff & are fun while they last, and the agony of the ending doesn't last all that long, but ... at least I don't pretend to have loved it so.

tanita s. davis said...

Heh heh...

You know, I try and give myself at least, oh, overnight to think about books I'm ambivalent about before I review them. Considering for whom we write reviews: mostly ourselves and other people who aspire to write fantasy and hopefully will pick up a few pointers from reading the novels here -- I don't go into as technical of a review as I might.

Seriously: I enjoyed it.
Seriously: Ambivalent endings annoy me. Deeply.

But it's a fantasy. I think there are rules about how many things have to work out. Frankly, I think Wynne-Jones was trying to leave herself room for sequels... if a writer is doing that, I can't argue with her. However, your point is well taken! I will attempt to be more... acerbic? In future.