No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

#59: The Game -- Diana Wynne Jones

As the boy crashed past Flute and Hayley the foremost dog almost caught him and then lost ground because it had a bloodstained piece of the boy's trousers in its mouth. The rest chased on furiously.
Hayley clutched Flute's hand. "Do they catch him?"
Flute nodded. "I'm afraid so."
Hayley was horrified. "Why?"
"He managed to be really offensive to a goddess," Flute told her. "Things like this happen on every strand, you know. The mythosphere is not an entirely happy place."
"But it looks so beautiful!" Hayley protested.
Flute laughed a little. "Beauty isn't made of sugar." (p.56)

This short novel -- more of a novella -- revolves around some lesser-known elements of Greek mythology, recreated and reimagined in a way that I've come to associate with DWJ. (Luckily for me and others who don't recall the intricacies of these myths, there's a cheat sheet and glossary at the back of the book.)

Hayley, apparently orphaned and being raised by her grandparents, is exiled to an aunt's house in Ireland after doing something disgraceful. Here she becomes involved in the family Game, a kind of mythological treasure hunt through the mythosphere, a realm which is made up of all the stories, theories and beliefs, legends, myths and hopes that are generated here on earth. (p.30) Hayley encounters some unexpected characters, discovers the truth about her parents and helps outwit the fearsome Uncle Jolyon.

It's very funny, full of references that smarter readers will spot and others won't feel the lack of, and Jones' take on the legends is insightful and inventive. I did feel this could've been a far longer book -- it feels like a padded-out short story rather than a short novel, and some of the threads weren't really picked up. A quick delightful read, though.

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