Title: The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
Scored a: A+
When people asked me what I was reading, I said it was a book about a pair of wizards and their human and griffin children. This seemed like a good blurb! And I was right, people were immediately interested after that.
Sometimes I’d go further, and explain that it was about a magical world that had been enslaved by a man from a world like ours, to perform as a sort of magic theme park for tourists to have ‘magical quests’ and that it was actually pretty dystopic, and this was how the wizards and their children saved everyone.
I really really liked this. I needed this book after something terrible happened. I had actually been reading James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small which, given its plethora of dead animals, was the exact wrong book for me at that moment.
Something I really enjoy in stories is unconventional families, and races that are as smart or smarter than us, but look nothing humanoid, and wizards raising griffins hit that exactly. There is also, if this sweetens the pot, dragons.
Diana Wynne Jones is my favourite author for a lot of reasons, and one of them is that she can write a story with a lot of threads that all tie up tidily as the ending approaches. The ending itself can be hit or miss, but the moment where it all comes together is one of my favourite feelings when reading.
I warn you, if you read this, that there is an upsetting scene that could be read two ways, bad and horrifying, that happens to Shona, the older human daughter during the soldier escorting. I had to put down the book for a few moments after that and I had been expecting it.
I had already purchased and begun the sequel, Year of the Griffin, before getting started writing this review. It’s about one of the griffins going to a wizard school. Yessss.