cover image The Islands of Chaldea

The Islands of Chaldea

Diana Wynne Jones, completed by Ursula Jones. Greenwillow, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-229507-1

Set in a luminous and beguiling magical land, this standalone novel was begun by acclaimed fantasist Wynne Jones before her death in 2011 and has been seamlessly completed by her sister Ursula, an actress and writer. Just a day after Eileen seems to fail her initiation into her family’s magical tradition, she and her Aunt Beck—a fully-fledged Wise Woman—are sent on a quest to breach the mysterious barrier that separates the islands of Skarr, Bernica, and Gallis from the enemy land of Logra. Accompanying Eileen and Beck are Ivar—the haughty prince whom Aileen plans to marry (“Until then I feel free to admire him greatly in secret”)—and Ogo, an awkward Logran boy. More companions join the travelers, including a sometimes-invisible giant cat that Aileen nicknames Plug-Ugly. As Aileen grows into her own powers, she reunites with long-lost family and reassesses her romantic plans. Though the plot twists are slightly less fiendish than in previous works, Wynne Jones’s humor, compassion, and invention continue to delight throughout this exhilarating tale. A story to cherish. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)