by Diana Wynne Jones
So this may be my favorite DWJ book to date. This was a fun and rollicking story with a family that works together, and a whole troop of annoying enemies (who are also all siblings; I have a thing for sibling groups). The interactions and dialogue in this story are fantastic, and there were several points where I actually laughed out loud at something particularly ridiculous.
Howard comes home from school one day to find the Goon sitting in his kitchen. The Goon explains that he’s come to collect 2000 words from Howard’s father because Archer wants them. Absolutely none of this makes sense to Howard or his sister at the time, but we gradually find out that Howard’s dad, an author, has been “paying” 2000 words to Archer, who “farms” a section of town–and these words are apparently powerful, because Archer isn’t the only who wants them any more. All of his siblings, who farm the rest of the town (not geographical areas, per se, but departments – utilities, banks, crime, education, etc.) are also trying to get their hands on those words. When Howard’s dad goes on strike and refuses to produce them, things get a bit… chaotic.
Summarizing a DWJ plot is a difficult job, so you’ll just have to take my word for it and give a go. Jones also actually ended this book strongly (in my opinion), which was a fantastic change from many of her other books I’ve read. As always, her world-building is excellent, especially in this book where it turns out that normal life isn’t so normal after all. Archer and all of his siblings are written well and Howard’s family is a team that works together throughout the story.
A solid read for fun and relaxation – 4/5.