cover image Aunt Maria

Aunt Maria

Diana Wynne Jones. Greenwillow Books, $13.95 (214pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10611-9

After their father disappears, Mig and her brother, Chris, go with their mother to visit Aunt Maria, an elderly tyrant who is as demure as she is iron-willed. Upon arriving, Mig and her mother discover that they are expected to keep house for Aunt Maria, as well as provide freshly baked cakes for her daily tea parties. These unwelcome chores do not prevent Mig from noticing that there's something very strange going on in sleepy Cranbury-on-Sea. Aunt Maria and her cronies are the only residents with any will of their own--their husbands and sons are zombie-like, and all the children are locked away in a huge orphanage on the outskirts of town. When Chris is transformed into a wolf, Mig must rescue him by unraveling the twisted secret that guides the lives of the villagers. Wry observations about the oddities of family life, along with plenty of spine-tingling spookiness, will keep readers glued to every turn of the labyrinthine plot. In the tradition of her novels The Ogre Downstairs and Eight Days of Luke , Jones takes the ordinary world and steeps it in an intoxicating witch's brew. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)