Deep Secret (Magids) Diana Wynne Jones (book review).

April 25, 2015 | By | Reply More

‘Deep Secret’ has recently been reissued and I’m glad because it is a wonderful book which has made me laugh a lot. It is one of those books that you want to read quickly but feel a sense of loss when you get to the end. I felt bereft when it ended and wished could turn the page and join them again once more.


Rupert Venables is a Magid and he’s in demand. There are so many problems in this world and all the others he has to visit and must keep constantly in touch with his responsibilities which is to make the worlds. In particular, there is the Koryfonic Empire, where the Emperor insists on executing his only known heir and then manages to die without anyone to take over, leaving the Empire in a dire state. Meanwhile, Rupert’s mentor Stan also dies which nearly leaves him high and dry except that Stan gets a pass from upstairs to around to help and also drive him mad with his musical taste.

Stan has a plan because Rupert also needs to recruit a new Magid. Rupert attempt to make contact but is appalled to find that no candidate really stands out. He needs to bring them all together somehow and what better than a magical node and a Science Fiction convention. What could possibly go wrong?

Then there’s Maree Mallory who is in no way going to be the Magid he needs, she’s narrating her part of the story and somehow their paths keep crossing no matter what.

It’s fun and funny without being annoying. It made me laugh out loud and how often does that happen? The plot is original and intriguing and is begging for TV or film treatment. In the grand tradition, it is a page-turner and features characters who are flawed and both comedic and confused. I like that it doesn’t follow necessarily the roads we might expect. There are plenty of additional characters who we choose to love, pity, despise and, in some cases, just laugh at. It can be cruel in its brief and crude characterisation by physical appearance but mostly it tries to look inside the person and see the light and shade they represent. Costume is important, too, and imagination. Those without it are condemned to live a life in the shade and it really gives the shout out to those of us who invest our imagination in stories such as these and see beyond the ‘real world’. Sadly, Diana is not around to be congratulated again but I’m sure she was aware that her books made people happy and left an enduring legacy.

Sue Davies

March 2015

(pub: Harper Collins Children’s Books. 480 page hardback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-00750-754-2)

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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