Tuesday 18 November 2008

Book Review: Diana Wynn Jones – Hexwood

Kooky Little Sister recommended this book to me, which usually means that it would be a good read as despite just completing her English degree KLS is not averse to the low-brow and entertaining.

When I started the book, I was very unimpressed and put it aside again. KLS asked me a few times if I had read it and I said I was going to. When she asked me to “give it back if you aren’t gonna read it” because it had to go back to the library, I told her I would read it straight away.

The book is about a girl called Anne who whilst recovering from an illness watches the nearby secretive Hexwood Farm estate and the odd people going in and out. She visits the woods behind the farm to find out more and finds herself meeting a strange series of characters: Mordion the skull-faced angsty servant, Hume the boy who keeps changing age and Yam the space robot. On a series of visits she finds that the roles and ages of people keep changing and that time and space are altered within the woods. At the same time, we learn about the Bannus, the machine which is causing the time-shifting and its owners the Reigners, the fearsome rulers of the universe who control what happens on earth and are trying to stop the strange mutation of time in the woods and also capture Mordion.

To begin with it, the book felt a bit childish. It is aimed at young adults but often books for this age group are fairly intelligent and engrossing reads (think Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass or Ruby in the Smoke series or the Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson). It took me until the second half of the book to become a bit more interested. One of the big problems was sheer confusion. I kept having to check if I had missed a page and at one point I lost track completely of what was happening. As the story progresses, allusions are made to all sorts of events that have happened in the past and about the role of the Reigners. These unfold throughout the book in drips which is entirely infuriating as you always have just a part of the picture. Close to the end you have most of the information to understand what has been happening which is a relief, but you can see the ending coming a mile off. The exception is the identity if the Bannus which is a lovely twist.

As a children/teens book, I was also unsure about the tone. At times it felt simplistic and almost childish, at other times it touched on topics which are a bit more sensitive: suicide, cruel treatment of children and conceiving a child to raise as a servant.

In the end I did come away from this book with some enjoyment of its story and relief at its unravelling, but it has put me off other books by the same author a little.


  1. the other books arent as confusing, you cop-out.

    p.s you still havent given my book back.

  2. no I gave it back to the liberry for you, aren't I kind?

    We'll our cousin has the set of three I gave her last Eid, so I can borrow that and see if they are any better. If they are not and I waste my team reading...someone gonna get hurt reeeaall bad!

  3. good lord woman, whats happening to your spelling

  4. Hello USB Champion,
    Oh dear, I know, it's terrible. I think blogging dies that to you - I'm sure I am not the only one that complains of this.