Monday, April 20, 2009
Diana Wynne Jones/CASTLE IN THE AIR
If you've seen or read Howl's Moving Castle, or even if you haven't, you'll want to read this companion book, Castle in the Air. It's quite similar to Aladdin in that it involves a flying carpet, a genie in a bottle, and a princess. But has a humor unique to Diana Wynne Jones's work.
Abdullah is a carpet merchant who has the good fortune of being sold a magic carpet. He awakens one night to find the carpet has flown him the garden of a beautiful princess, who falls in love with him. But when the princess is kidnapped and taken to a castle in the air, Abdullah must use his carpet, daily wishes from a cantankerous genie, and the help of an untrustworthy soldier to rescue his love and dozens of other captive princesses.
Jones is one of my favorite authors, and I think this is one of her best books. Abdullah's adherence to the custom of heaping compliments on even the most foul people is hilarious (He calls a nomad "O captain of camels"). The genie's delight in making all of Abdullah's wishes go awry prompts fun plot twists. And the princess's penchant for logic is as endearing as it is surprising. You don't have to know anything about the original book, Howl's Moving Castle, to enjoy this story, but there are some fun bonuses for those familiar with Howl's characters.