How to Lick a Lubbock


House of Many Ways, by Diana Wynne Jones – As this book takes place in the same world as Howl’s Moving Castle and Castle in the Air, it’s pretty much inevitable that Howl and Sophie would put in an appearance. The fire demon Calcifer also plays a pivotal role. The main character this time, however, is a girl named Charmain Baker, with whom I could identify pretty easily. She’s the kind of person who reads when in stressful situations, and hates when real life interrupts her reading. She also seeks to work in the library at the Royal Mansion. Charmain finds herself having to watch the house of her distant relative, the Wizard William Norland, which is full of magical passages to other places. At one point, she runs afoul of a lubbock, a creature resembling a giant insect that lays its eggs inside of people. When the eggs hatch, it kills a male host, but a female gives birth to a hybrid being called a lubbockin. As if an enormous bug isn’t scary enough, it also taps into my feelings of unease at parasites. I’d say that’s a pretty effective kind of monster. The lubbock also has an evil plan to take over the country. I don’t think it would be spoiling too much to say that the creature is ultimately defeated, but I won’t go into details about how it happens. This was a quite enjoyable read, and a fairly quick one.

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8 Responses to How to Lick a Lubbock

  1. Just reading your review is making me smile– I really did enjoy this one an awful lot! I LOVED Uncle William’s house. I loved quite a lot of the book, but that was the part that, all you had to say was your “Charmain finds herself having to watch the house of her distant relative, the Wizard William Norland, which is full of magical passages to other places,” and my mind went all squealy and said “YES AND I LOVED IT VERY MUCH!” It was only my third DWJ, and it definitely convinced me that she had indeed become one of my Favorite Writers Ever.

    Also, Sophie as a mom is Awesome. Sophie is of course Awesome just generally, but her Awesomeness carries over to motherhood very well. As a mother, I really appreciate when characters are portrayed as being thoroughly involved mothers who at the same time are still Awesome in non-motherly ways. It’s shocking and disappointing how rarely you see this. So oftentimes Awesome characters are kept childless (less distraction, I guess), or mother characters are nothing but bland Mother characters, with no life of their own. There was a whole discussion about it on the GeekMom blog a few months ago, which will take me forever to go find so I’m not going to link to it, sorry. But, speaking of other books you’ve reviewed recently, Thursday Next was another of such characters that came up in discussion, being Awesome AND a Mother AND an Awesome Mother.

  2. vilajunkie says:

    I happened to like Howl’s blatant enjoyment as his disguise in the book. (I won’t give it away so other people can find out themselves, but I was surprised by who he turned out to be while reading House of Many Ways.)

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