Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Buy from

Rate this Book

Sonderbooks 54
    Previous Book
    Next Book

Young Adult Fiction
        Previous Book
        Next Book

Children's Nonfiction
Children's Fiction

Picture Books

2004 Stand-outs
2003 Stand-outs
    Previous Book
    Next Book

2002 Stand-outs
2001 Stand-outs

Five-Star Books
Four-Star Books
Old Favorites
Back Issues
List of Reviews by Title
List of Reviews by Author

Why Read?
Children and Books
Links For Book Lovers
About Me
Contact Me 
Make a Donation
Post on Bulletin Board
View Bulletin Board

I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


***The Merlin Conspiracy

by Diana Wynne Jones

Reviewed May 15, 2003.
Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), New York, 2003.  468 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF JON).
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #10, Young Adult Fantasy

Hooray!  A new story (not a reissue) from Diana Wynne Jones!  The Merlin Conspiracy is one of her books with a setting involving alternate worlds and magic users who can travel between worlds.  Philosophically, I’m not crazy about the alternate worlds idea, but it makes an entertaining backdrop for a story.  The worlds are very like our world in some ways, but intriguingly different in others.  As usual, one of the characters comes from our world, so his perspective on the differences matches ours.

The world of Blest is in trouble.  Arianrhod (Roddy) and Grundo, kids who travel with the King’s Court, witness the death of the Merlin and then overhear powerful adults plotting further trouble.  What can they do?  Before long, any adult they turn to is rendered powerless to help.  Roddy tries to call a wizard from another world, and gets only Nick, who doesn’t know much about how to use his knack for magic.

The story is entrancing and absorbing and kept me reading late into the night.  I like her characters and her world.  My only dissatisfaction with the book was that the plot seemed a bit murky.  This was one of those stories where the main characters really don’t know what to do, but as they go their magic tells them the next step.  This makes their eventual victory seem only like a lucky chance, rather than clever conquering of evil.  It also takes away some of the suspense, as the reader never knows what to expect will happen next.  We know that something bad is going to happen with the conspiracy, but we don’t really have any idea how Roddy and Nick should try to solve it until their chance finally comes.  All the same, the journey to the climax is highly entertaining.  Fans of Diana Wynne Jones will be pleased at another chance to immerse themselves in her multiverse.

Reviews of other books by Diana Wynne Jones:
Cart and Cwidder
Drowned Ammet
The Spellcoats
The Crown of Dalemark
Dark Lord of Derkholm and Year of the Griffin
Conrad's Fate
Unexpected Magic
Wild Robert
The Ogre Downstairs
Witch's Business

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

-top of page-