Wednesday, March 21, 2018

March Magics: Random bits and bobs

Just a little post to cover some extra bases.  I've been reading Unexpected Magic, the largest collection of DWJ short stories and the only place to find the excellent novella "Everard's Ride" (besides the very rare volume that has it and "The True State of Affairs" -- only Lory has that!).  Most of the stories in this volume are collected in books I've already covered, so this is just the few that aren't, plus another sort of rare story, Wild Robert.

When my husband and I were first married in 1996, we took a trip to the UK and of course, I figured I'd look for DWJ books.  A friend of ours, also a diehard fan, asked particularly for us to look for Wild Robert as his copy had been lost in a house fire.  Luckily we were able to buy two, and I'm not sure I've ever seen it again.

"The Green Stone" is a very short story with a fun punch at the end.  It's one where DWJ is playing with the fantasy trope of a 'tour,' where a crew goes on a quest.  So it's quite reminiscent of Dark Lord of Derkholm or The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, except that it's only a few pages long.  "The Fat Wizard" is another short, funny story, in which the pompous town wizard and the narrator's pet pig run into each other.  Another good bedtime story!

"Little Dot" is a cat story, but it's my favorite cat story, and it reminds me just a little of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which was itself a tribute to DWJ, so I have to wonder if the two are connected.  Little Dot is a cat with a benevolent wizard who is working on helping local farmers trap a strange beast that is prowling around the hills.  She and her fellow cats have to save their wizard, though.




Wild Robert is a short children's novel, and I think it's rather different, not quite your usual DWJ story.  And it's illustrated, unlike most!  Heather's parents are caretakers at a historic stately home, and when Heather is quite fed up with trippers in all her favorite spots, she winds up at a hummock that the locals say is haunted.  And so it is; Wild Robert Toller was buried there three hundred years ago, and Heather accidentally calls him up.  Robert is not happy to see his home covered in visitors, and produces some witchcraft to solve the problem.  He has every intention of seeing to Heather's dad -- clearly an interloper who is cheating the family -- next.

What I like about Wild Robert is the way that Robert is both a real problem and a truly sympathetic character.  He's had a rough time, and he also has a volatile character that has been the source of some of his difficulties.

Next up: two of the greatest DWJ short works!







7 comments:

Lory said...

Haha, I also have a standalone hardcover copy of Wild Robert! I got it as a review copy when I was writing for The Green Man Review a long time ago. I have not reread it since, though my son did and said he liked it.

But I need to get Unexpected Magic ... even though I'm annoyed by overlap with other books I already own. Can't be helped, if I want to be a completist.

Nancy Leek said...

Who did the cover on your book? It looks like Emma Chichester Clark to me.

Jean said...

Yeah, Lory, Unexpected Magic has just a few stories you won't have otherwise! I am envious of your special copy of Everard's Ride though...

Mom, you win the grand prize; it is indeed Emma Chichester Clark.

Kristen M. said...

I borrowed Wild Robert from the library a couple of years ago and have been looking for it since. No luck.

And I didn't think about connecting Little Dot and Ocean but now I will! Time for an Ocean reread this summer, I guess.

Jean said...

Kristen, check Amazon for used hardback copies of WR, they are cheap!! I was surprised about Little Dot, it had been a long time since I read it and I'd forgotten it all.

Deborah O'Carroll said...

Ooh, I loved Wild Robert! I found a copy at a library. :D He's SUCH a problem and also so sympathetic, like you said! I so wanted to know what happened after the end, because it was so short!

I didn't know that was in Unexpected Magic... I definitely need to read the collection sometime! It was out at my library for March Magics, sadly. :-/ I've read Little Dot, though, in a different collection, and I LOVED IT! :D

Anonymous said...

I have Wild Robert in standalone hardback also!! I don't know how necessary that is to my life, but here it is, nevertheless. I also do not know where I got it, which means it's entirely possible that I straight up stole it from one of my sisters. (Don't tell.)