Castle in the Air
By Diana Wynne Jones
Published by Recorded Books
Read by Jenny Sterlin
This book is technically a sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle, although this is not readily apparent until fairly late in the story. Instead of following Sphie Hatter, Wizard Howl and others from the first book, the protagonist of this story is a young carpet merchant named Abdullah who lives in a land straight out of the Arabian Nights.
One day a mysterious stranger offers to sell an old well-worn carpet to Abdullah for a fairly ridiculous price. Abdullah refuses until the stranger demonstrates that, in spite of its moth-eaten appearance, it is a flying carpet. At that point Abdullah becomes suspicious that it is a=too good a bargain, but they eventually make a deal. It helps keep it from being stolen, Abdullah sleeps on top of the carpet that night but later awakes in the local sultan’s garden where he meets the Princess Flower-in-the-night and they fall in love. Well, that’s much too easy and no sooner do they arrange to go away together, when a djinn pops into kidnap Flower-in-the-night and the real story begins.
It’s a fun story with many twists and turns with Djinns, genies, wizards, witches and old friends popping up in a variety of guises and transformation that much been seen through and reversed before a happy ending can be enjoyed by any of them. It’s a story written in Diana Wynne Jones’ wonderful style with each step forward accompanied by two steps backward until the reader just has to stop guessing who it will all end and just enjoy the ride.
Jenny Sterlin performed as excellently on this book as she did in “Howl’s Moving Castle.” It is tempting to wonder how some other well-known reader might do in comparison, but I seriously doubt any could do better. Her accent, intonation and pacing were perfect and if I had any complaint it was that the book just was not long enough.
So, to sum it all up; a fun story read very well, indeed!