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Literature / House of Many Ways

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House of Many Ways is the second sequel to Diana Wynne Jones's novel Howl's Moving Castle.

It is set two years after the preceding book, Castle in the Air, since a child born in that book is now two years old. Again, a new protagonist is introduced as the book follows the story of Charmain, a sheltered bookworm who is assigned to caretake a cottage for her Great Uncle (who is also the Royal Wizard) but soon discovers the cottage is a magical labyrinth in disguise. The cast of the first book are given more involved roles than their cameo appearances in Castle in the Air, but still stay secondary to Charmain's plot.


House of Many Ways provides examples of:

  • Always Chaotic Evil: Lubbocks and lubbockin.
  • Bald of Evil: Prince Ludovic, who wears a wig to cover it up.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Wizard Norland's house.
  • Bookworm: Charmain and Princess Hilda.
    "Yes, but I want to help you with the books!"
  • Deliberately Cute Child: Twinkle, who is actually Howl in magical disguise.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: How lubbocks reproduce. If you're male, then you'll have the mercy of dying. If you're female... *shivers*
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: High Norland, in which House of Many Ways is set, is quite Switzerland-like—with the rolling, snowy mountains and meadows, the cuckoo clocks/sleds, tiny impish creatures, and all.
  • Gambit Pileup: Reading the last chapter, it's amazing how pretty much every single main character had a plan of their own in action, or was following someone else's, and how everything connected so well.
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  • Gender Bender: Waif, the dog, who was initially male, but transformed himself after imprinting of Charmain.
  • Heroic Dog: Waif, being the Elfgift and all that.
  • The Illegible: Howl's handwriting is frankly horrible — Charmain wonders to herself if he uses a pen or a poker when he's writing.
  • It Was with You All Along: The Elfgift several of the characters are looking for is actually Waif the dog.
  • Large Ham: Howl, and Melicot.
  • Lethal Chef: Peter is a terrible cook. Charmain gets so desperate, she asks her father, a baker, for a cookbook for him.
    • She is an even worse cook and still likes his food better than her own. She didn't even know how to cook.
  • Mama Bear: Sophie. Do NOT harm Morgan Jenkins if you know what's good for you. Howl also has a Papa Wolf moment when Prince Ludovic threatens Morgan, leading Howl to punch him in the face. Twice.
  • Our Elves Are Different: House Of Many Ways has a few brief appearences of elves of the "very tall, very beautiful" variety. They're also the best doctors, so although they're aloof, they aren't entirely stuck-up.
  • Parenting the Husband: Poor Sophie finds herself having to do this a little more literally than usual.
  • Portal to the Past: Among the house's many ways.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The King of High Norland. Not only is he willing to listen to Charmain and consider her opinions, but he respects her and is thankful to her for offering to help him in the library. Plus, he's just a generally good person.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Waif the dog is originally thought to be male. Notable in that the third person omniscient narrator also makes the mistake until Peter points out that Waif is female. But actually, Waif pulled a Gender Bender after meeting (and effectively imprinting upon) Charmain.
  • Stable Time Loop: So, Wizard Norland specifically wants Charmain to watch his house because earlier in his life Charmain's friend whom she met while watching the house appeared to the Wizard and told him about Charmain?
  • String-on-Finger Reminder: Peter needs to tie different colours of string to his fingers because he can't remember left from right. Taken Up to Eleven when he appears with several strings around almost all of his fingers in order to navigate the titular House.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: A variant; it's revealed Twinkle was Howl in child-form, and he bonded with Morgan. At the end of the book, Morgan throws a tantrum when Twinkle is nowhere to be seen.


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