I just want to say that I know I haven't been the best blogger of late, but I have a good excuse--I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month. So there. Hence the Belated Reviews. I have been reading, you see; I just haven't been documenting it like I should be.
For instance, I just plain ate up a relatively recent Diana Wynne Jones novel, The Merlin Conspiracy. I have been a fan of her novels since junior high school, and recently rediscovered them after a long hiatus. The parallel worlds she creates in her fantasy books are so well realized, so like yet unlike our own world, and this latest example is no exception.
Arianrhod, or Roddy, and her dyslexic friend Grundo, are part of the magic-using group of courtiers' children in the King's Progress--the traveling royal caravan in their version of England, in a world called Blest. One day they find that the new appointee to the post of Merlin--the King's magician--may be in league with power-hungry baddies.
Unfortunately, everybody else in the King's Progress has been charmed with bespelled water, and none of them believe Roddy or Grundo. They have to strike out on their own to foil the conspiracy, and their adventures are, as usual, filled with wonder, danger, and humor. There's also a huge subplot - Roddy and Grundo have to be helped along the way by Nick Mallory, who joins them from our own familiar Earth--eventually. He encounters his own set of tribulations along the road, including being jailed for inadvertent vagrancy and assault in a hostile parallel universe.
The setting of Blest is just fabulous - cars and buses that run on some mysterious fuel that isn't gasoline but is equally foul-smelling, magical cell phones, and other incredible details make the world come alive. A really absorbing adventure if you enjoy fantasy! A-double-plus!