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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, apparently its a matter of instincts.
  • 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!"
  • Category Traitor: Rollo the kobolb is accused of this by Timmins for taking bribes from the Lubbock.
  • Color-Coded Eyes: Purple eyes have very dark connotations here. Offspring between a lubbock (an evil, magical creature that can change its size and is purple with the body of a man, fuzzy wings and the grotesque head of an insect, which either tears people apart or lays its eggs inside them depending on the season) and a female human are distinguishable often only by their purple eyes and violent tempers.
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  • Deliberately Cute Child: Twinkle, who is actually Howl in magical disguise, its in part an act to draw attention to himself and not his "playmate" Morgan.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Twinkle, being a toddler, understandably has quite the overbearing lisp. Still, it drives Sophie mad, more understandable given tat it's Howl in a disguise.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: How lubbocks reproduce, paralysing and attacking their victims to laying their eggs in them. If you're male, then you'll have the mercy of dying. If you're female... *shivers* You give birth to purple-eyed Always Chaotic Evil Half Human Hybrids creatures called lubbockin. As it turns out, the mysterious disease infecting the hero's uncle is that he's been attacked and "impregnated" by a lubbock. Worse they can absorb magic, so being planted in a wizard leads to them being nearly indestructible, unless you're a fire demon.
  • 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.
  • Fountain of Youth: A demonstration of this show's how accomplished a Wizard Howl has become, by becoming Twinkle partly as a disguise and partly (he said) because he felt he deserved a better childhood than the one he'd actually had.
  • 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.
  • Gender Bender: Waif, the dog, who was initially male, but transformed himself after imprinting of Charmain.
  • Grande Dame: Aunt Semporania, not strictly related to Charmain she still sets up her house sitting jb and essentially decides the girls whole future.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Lubbockin are the result of insectoid lubbocks laying eggs in humans with uteruses, the victim will usually die in childbirth, and the resulting offspring usually have purple eyes or skin and are Always Chaotic Evil. They can interbreed with humans into Uneven Hybrid, but will usually retain some tell-tale trait, Just ask Prince Ludovic.
  • Heroic Dog: Waif, being the Elfgift and all that.
  • House Fey: Charmain has to deal with the kobolds going on strike from their house and garden chores while she's house-sitting for Great-Uncle Norland.
  • 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 hasn't improved in two books.
  • It Was with You All Along: The Elfgift several of the characters are looking for is actually Waif the dog.
  • Karma Houdini: The lubbock that appears in the book, it seems to be the one responsible for Norland's condition, with the local Lubbockin being allied at least goal wise, the only comeuppance it 'might' get is the fact it's likely been dead for several years, if the window Charmain went through really was to the past.
  • 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.
  • Mystical Waif: Central trope to the work, especially as it features a little white dog who is actually named Waif, who had been living with Charmain's great-uncle William (Wizard Norland) for a short time. Waif is no ordinary dog, but a rare, magical enchanting dog. Later, we find out that Waif actually is the latest generation of the Elf Gift, which (or, as it turns out, who) is supposed to protect the royal family of High Norland. However, unlike most examples, besides having magical powers Waif does not act very mystical, but like an ordinary dog, who begs for scraps, overindulges on human food, and clings to Charmain who she has adopted as her owner.
  • Oh Look, More Rooms!: Perfect example though the door at the back is actually the door in the middle. What starts out as a cottage with two rooms and one inside door turns out to have two rooms, a dark hallway, and another hallway with bedrooms and a washroom, then is eventually revealed to contain part of the brownies-by-any-other-name's underground caves and the entirety of the indoors of the royal castle a two-hour walk away.
  • Our Elves Are Different: House Of Many Ways has a few brief appearances 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, how 'many' portals to the past or future aren't explicated though.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Lubbocks and all related creatures are purple, they're definitely dangerous too.
  • 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.
  • Spell Book: As expected for a wizard's library, they contain spells for flying, housework and food, interestingly they showcase a mischievous mind of their own, deliberately turning their pages so Charmain messes up her spells.
  • 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 colors 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.
  • Wicked Wasps: Lubbocks, primary antagonists of the book, they and their gets (lubbockin) have historically caused a lot of trouble in High Norland. For what makes them so terrifying, they look like tiny purple wasps but are also Sizeshifters that can become man-sized, while holding on to a few insect traits like their Non-Human Head.