Castle in the Air is a companion to my favorite Diana Wynne Jones novel, Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s not really a sequel but the events in this one occur after Howl’s Moving Castle. I’ve had my copy for over a year now, this was given by Evert as a birthday present in 2010.
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
Abdullah was a young and not very prosperous carpet dealer. His father, who had been disappointed in him, had left him only enough money to open a modest booth in the Bazaar. When he was not selling carpets, Abdullah spent his time daydreaming. In his dreams he was not the son of his father, but the long-lost son of a prince. There was also a princess who had been betrothed to him at birth. He was content with his life and his daydreams until, one day, a stranger sold him a magic carpet.
Diana Wynne Jones’ novels are always a lot of fun, even if they’re written for younger audiences that what I’m used to reading. I think most of her books fall under MG or younger YA fantasy. I wish I knew about her when I was younger because she’s been writing about magic and wizards long before Harry Potter became popular. I probably would’ve loved her books to bits if I read them when I was a child. Castle in the Air is an Aladdin-esque story set in the same world as Howl’s Moving Castle and some of my favorite characters even make an appearance. I mentioned Aladdin because Abdullah lives near a desert, buys a magic carpet and gets to meet a genie. There are glimpses of Howl, Sophie and even Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle in this installment but I still think Castle in the Air stands well on its own. Abdullah is a carpet merchant who loves to daydream. He didn’t inherit his father’s wealth because of a prophecy at his birth. It doesn’t matter because he’s content with his small booth in the bazaar in Zanzib, where he can daydream whenever business is slow. His main source of irritation comes from his father’s first wife’s relatives who keep on trying to tell him what to do with his life. Abdullah gets thrust into one adventure after another when a merchant sells him a magic carpet.
While Howl’s Moving Castle is still my favorite DWJ novel, I still enjoyed reading about the quirky characters in this one. I liked that it had a different setting from Howl and that Abdullah came from a different culture. His way of using flowery language when speaking is unique and he even uses some adjectives that I wasn’t familiar with! Castle in the Air is easy to fall into, the plot moves along at a nice pace and there are a lot of silly and funny moments in the story. I think that assessment is applicable to all of the other DWJ novels that I’ve read. They’re all light and fun – filled with characters who end up in crazy situations that they eventually manage to get out of. If you’re a fan of MG and YA fantasy and you’ve never read any book by DWJ then I recommend that you give them a try soon. I know that she has a lot of fans out there, even her fellow authors admire her work (I know Megan Whalen Turner is a DWJ fan). If you’re familiar with DWJ’s books, I’d like to know what’s your favorite.