Why I picked it up: I've recently picked up a few Diana Wynne Jones books, continuing my earlier fascination with her - beginning when I saw Hayao Miyazaki's beautifully depicted Howl's Moving Castle.
'The Year of the Griffin' I had read and quoted from last year, but decided I could re-read a few chapters while the baby slept.
Why I finished it: Super catchy storyline which brought to mind the fizz and excitement of the early Harry Potter "going to wizarding school" magic.
A diverse group of students meet at magic university and unite under incompetent teachers. The Wizards' University is now decidedly short of funds, and the teachers are either obsessed with raising funds, going to the moon or training the students to avoid any real thinking.
From Goodreads: Comical tableaux involving spells that create deep pits and smelly winged monkeys alternate with suspenseful (yet always amusing) scenes involving tiny assassins who mean business. Jones's satirical pokes at academia, racial intolerance (the greenish and jinxed Claudia has mixed blood), and hierarchical societies (Ruskin is bucking the tyranny of the forgemasters to become the first dwarf wizard) keep the story lively, as do the realistic portrayals of her very odd and endearing cast of characters.
She has two novels set in an imaginary world, Derkholm. The first novel, Dark Lord of Derkholm, is a recommended pre-read, though you can jump right into this one if you like (or if this is the book your library has).
The exciting bits are pretty fantastic, and so are the characters - a griffin, a marshwoman, a prince, another prince who has assassins after him, a pirate's daughter..
Who should read this? Fans of wizard schools, Harry Potter, Young Adult lit, School stories
“What have we got next? Wasn’t there a lecture or something?”
“I’ll see,” said Elda. She hooked a talon into the bag around her neck and whisked out a timetable, then reared on her hindquarters to consult it. It already had claw holes in all four corners. “A class,” she said. “Foundation Spellcasting with Wizard Wermacht in the North Lab.”
“Where’s that?” Claudia inquired shyly. “And have we time for coffee first?” Olga asked.
Other books by her reviewed:
Cart and Cwidder