Wild Robert

Author: Diana Wynne JonesWild Robert

My rating: 4 of 5

Heather has a most unusual home situation: her parents are the caretakers of the old, once-wealthy estate of Castlemaine. Which can be interesting, but during tourist season it’s mostly annoying. Her parents are always busy, there are hordes of strangers around messing up the place, and it’s nearly impossible to find a place to be alone in quiet! One day, in a fit of frustration at being driven from every quiet place she knows, Heather does something that has greater consequences than she could have originally imagined. You see, there’s a legend that a member of the Castlemaine family–one who practiced magic and mischief, if rumors are to be believed–was buried in a mound in the forest and that if you call him, he will rise from the mound. Well, Heather calls, and Wild Robert comes. Whether Heather’s ready for the aftermath remains to be seen. . . .

Wild Robert demonstrates many of the qualities that make me love Diana Wynne Jones’ writing so much. It’s quirky and unexpected, inventive, original, and full of humor and character. The characters, especially Heather and Wild Robert, are interesting and well developed. Robert, in particular, is a very unique individual, capricious, resentful, quick but caught still in the grandness of the estate his family once owned, unable to accept the common folk trampling all over “his” land. The results of his moods are, to say the least, quite amusing. The quality of the writing is definitely up to Jones’ impeccable standards. My one . . . not exactly complaint so much as sad observation . . . is that the story, while complete in itself, feels like it could have been a great deal longer. Actually, it feels like the real story is only beginning. I can only imagine that Jones had originally intended to make this into a longer book, but it never came together and she wrapped up what she had as best she could. And “as best she could” for Diana Wynne Jones is quite well indeed, it’s an excellent story and flows nicely. So, if you’re a fan of her books, this is a must-read part of her collection, and if you’re not familiar with her books, at about 100 pages, Wild Robert has the advantage of being a short volume to try her writing.

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