The wonderful and oh-so-talented author Diana Wynne Jones passed away earlier this year on 26 March 2011. She'll be sorely missed. Her works will live on in the hearts and on the bookshelves of her readers. I am one of those readers, and this post is my small way of thanking her for enriching my reading life.

I'm actually not a big fan of either fantasy fiction or young adult fiction. But the most notable exceptions to the rule are, strangely, where the two genres intersect. Some of my favourite books, both as a teenager and as an adult, have been fantasy fiction that's primarily aimed at younger readers. They include Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea books, C.S. Lewis's Narnia Chronicles, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, and Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series. And Diana Wynne Jones.

I'm a latecomer to Diana Wynne Jones' books, having first picked one up only 4-5 years ago. I relied on my local library to discover her books, so my reading is somewhat incomplete. And unfortunately many of her works are now out of print and hard to find. Her books that are still in print don't seem to be stocked in Australian book shops, and you don't come across many of them in second hand shops - they disappear off the shelves too quickly.

I've read over a dozen of Diana Wynne Jones' books, but I haven't read everything that she's written, including what might be her most famous book - Howl's Moving Castle. I'll be making up for that shortly, having recently purchased it through the Book Depository :)

Just about every book that I've read became an instant favourite for me - The Homeward Bounders, Fire and Hemlock, Deep Secret, The Merlin Conspiracy, Dark Lord of Derkholm, The Time of the Ghost.

But my absolute favourites are the Chrestomanci Chronicles. There are six books in the series (plus short stories), and they're set in a world where magic is the norm. The stories are terrific, and the characters are, well, characters! But what really sets the books apart is their enormous sense of fun. And they appeal so beautifully to children and adults, with layers that work for both.

My other firm favourite by Diana Wynne Jones is the Tough Guide to Fantasyland. If you've ever read and enjoyed a single fantasy book, you will absolutely love this tongue-in-cheek guide to travelling through Fantasyland. I can't recommend it highly enough. Oh, and it was nominated for a Hugo award in the non-fiction category :)

Diana Wynne Jones

I know I haven't really done justice here to the great Diana Wynne Jones - I'm not very good at describing why I like some things so much (which is why you'll never find a book or movie review on my blog!), but I wanted to try to impart some of my enthusiasm to you, and encourage you to look out for her books if you haven't tried them before. If you'd like to find out more, you can view the official Diana Wynne Jones fan website or her Wikipedia entry. I wish you happy reading!