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Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories (2004)

by Diana Wynne Jones

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6671534,184 (3.9)13
A collection of sixteen stories including "The Plague of Peacocks," "Aunt Bea's Day Out," "The Fat Wizard," "No One," and "Everard's Ride."
  1. 30
    Across the Wall by Garth Nix (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Another collection of disparate fantasy tales, some short, plus a novella.
  2. 20
    Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Collections of short stories and novellas by the award-winning fantasy writer

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» See also 13 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I thought I was the world's biggest Diana Wynne Jones fan, but apparently even I have my limits. I'm not sure the short form shows her off to best advantage, and after a while (a short while) some of the stories seem awfully repetitive. Yes, I enjoy her style and savour that consistent tone, but so many stories feature difficult characters and exasperated protagonists. It's there in her novels too, but I read those spaced apart. This felt like a cake, where the first slice tasted great, but you shortly realise there are still 12 more slices and no one to help you eat them--by the end, that great cake didn't feel so great.

So read it--but buy it (mine was from the library), and let some time pass between stories. Read one a month, say, and after a year and a half you'll have had such a treat. But back-to-back, it's too much of a muchness.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s). I feel a lot of readers automatically render any book they enjoy 5, I'm a bit more ruthless. ( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Oct 13, 2020 |
A good collection of Diana Wynne Jones’ short fiction. They’re not all her best work, but there’s some excellent stories here. Recommended for her fans.

The Girl Jones
A most excellent way to get out of babysitting, forever. Hilarious. Not fantasy, though.

Nad and Dan and Quaffy
Eh, I didn’t care for this one. Too self-referential, and kind of annoying. A female writer, at her word processor, makes contact with an alternate universe.

The Plague of Peacocks
A peaceful village is invaded by new neighbors. Their passive aggressive, do-gooder ways get worse and worse… until their just desserts are delivered, in the village’s own special way.

The Master
A vet takes a late-night call, and is led into a mysterious wood to tend to wolves. It’s framed as a dream… but in a far less-annoying way than most “it was a dream” stories.

Enna Hittims
A child is sick with mumps. To amuse herself, she pretends that her bed is a dramatic landscape… but when the tiny adventurers of her imagination come to life, things get out of hand… (Doesn’t most everyone get vaccinated for mumps there days? I’ll look at it as being a period piece…)

The Girl Who Loved the Sun
A story with a mythological feel, about a girl who becomes a tree, believing the sun will love her.

The Fluffy Pink Toadstool
Ha! Hippies might get a bit grumpy about this one, but it’s pretty funny. The mom of a family goes on a DIY craze, and foraging for food goes just a bit wrong.

Auntie Bea's Day Out
An annoying aunt doesn’t pay attention to warning signs at the seashore – and gets far more than she bargained for, on a whirlwind ‘tour’ of all different sorts of ‘islands.’

Due to an aural misunderstanding, a young girl thinks that a walking stick will magically beat her annoying father. The stick talks to her, and moves, but seems unwilling to do any beating. People think she’s pretty weird for bringing a cane everywhere, and talking to it. But in the end, she’s vindicated… in a rather unexpected way.

What the Cat Told Me
An evil wizard uses boys for nefarious purposes, but, with the help of a cat, one may finally escape… told from the point of view of the cat, which one may either find cute, or mildly annoying.

The Green Stone
A funny take-off on the quest story. All the heroes, sidekicks, and what have you are assembled at the inn yard, and a bard is there to report on their deeds. But the quest unexpectedly get aborted… in, of course, an unexpected way.

The Fat Wizard
A small-town story of magic gone wrong… or possibly, unexpectedly right. (“losing weight” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be “in shape…”)

No One
An amusing sci-fi story about a very poorly programmed household robot.

Dragon Reserve, Home Eight
A familiar-feeling but very enjoyable story… on a colony world, those with psychic powers are kept in swift and brutal check. So it’s not surprising that some families would try to hide their children’s abilities. The end of the story makes too much effort to backpedal from the nastiness the story has brought up, but I still liked it.

Little Dot
Another story from a cat’s point of view. But I liked this one. I’m not sure why Bast would be a Caribbean lady, not an Egyptian woman, but it’s fine. A bunch of cats must drive off their rescuer’s new girlfriend before she takes them to the pound… but she is more nefarious than even they could have guessed.

Everard's Ride
This is not a short story; it’s a whole novel. Not even a novella. It’s around 230 pages long. Why it wasn’t published as its own book, I do not know. It’s an early work by Wynne-Jones, originally written in 1966. It’s a very nice romantic fantasy… If one travels to a small island in the proper way, a medieval-ish ‘pocket’ world is discovered … Although rumors abound of ghosts, it’s very real, and there may be more there for some of the characters than there is ‘here.’

( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
A lovely collection of short stories written by Diana Wynne Jones, including one short novella. four or five of the short stories are duplicated in the "Minor Arcana" collection. Contents:
1. The girl Jones - girl who takes young charges on a hilarious adventure down water lane to the muddy river and ensures she never has to babysit for anybody again.
2. Nad and Dan adn Quaffy - Typing mistakes as inspiration for parallel universe adventure for a writer who is contacted through her wordprocessor by a rebellious slave in a matriarchal universe.
3. The plague of peacocks - Well-to-do people who upset people in their new village, but are unable to deal with little Daniel Emanuel.
4. The master - dream about an experiment with wolves gone wrong
5. Enna Hittims - imagined 1 inch heroes that came to life causing havoc
6. The girl who loved the sun - an origin myth about the beech tree
7. the fluffy pink toadstool - Woman involves her family on her latest "natural" craze gets pink toadstools growing in her house.
8. Auntie Bea's day out - large annoying aunt drags children for a day out to the seaside only to trespass on a magic island which shifts whenever irritated by Auntie Bea's voice.
9. Carruthers - a seemingly magical walking stick brings entertainment and empowerment into Elizabeth and her sister's lives.
10. What the cat told me - amusing tale of an enchanted & enchanting cat trapped into the service of an old magician along with a young red-headed boy. The cat and boy become good friends as they grow up together and help each other escape the magician's power.
11. The green stone - an amusing pre-quest scenario from the point of view of a cleric who is supposed to officially record the exploits of the heroes of the quest.
12. The fat wizard - a village where magic is normal is lorded over by an arrogant and nasty, fat wizard, but he gets his come-uppance when a young girl uses her power with pigs to deal with him.
13. No one - An advanced learning robot called No One, and other household appliances, along with a magical Someone band together to save a boy from being kidnapped, in a near-future story of the rise of the machines, sort of.
14. Dragon reserve, home eight - Science fiction/fantasy story of a universe where the dragonate, protectors of a number of planets, also carry out witch hunts to find and execute Hegs - people with special abilities. One dragonate party arrives on the matriarchal world of Home Eight to follow up reports of a Heg girl, but end up needing her help and the help of the dragons on the local dragon reserve to repel the Thrallers - slavers who enthrall their captives with their special abilities.
15. Little Dot - Another story from the point of view of a magical cat and her person, a researcher of magic who ends up looking after lots of cats and then having to deal with the Beast of Ettmoor, with the help of the cats of course!
16. Everard's ride - Novella - a mysterious island connected by an almost invisible land bridge brings wild riders to Cecilia and Alex's father's farm. When they avoid going to the Courcy's Christmas Day party and go to the island instead, they have the greatest adventures of their lives. Great story which reminds me why I liked DWJ so much. Magical, like the Narnia stories.
  LindaLiu | Feb 21, 2015 |
I had started this collection a few times but hadn't progressed past The Plague of Peacocks. This time through, I skipped a couple of stories that I had just read in another collection, reread a couple of favorites (The Girl Jones, What the Cat Told Me and Dragon Reserve, Home Eight) and took my first trip down Everard's Ride. I adored these stories (and one novella) so much that I can't even find words to explain. My journal has little hearts next to all of the story names. I even think that Jenny's Law (DWJ is always better on reread) is going to be proven wrong for once because there's no way that I could love Everard's Ride more. I already love it the most possible. And why did Dragon Reserve, Home Eight never become a full novel or series?!

http://webereading.com/2014/08/short-story-summer-update-two.html ( )
1 vote klpm | Aug 30, 2014 |
Mostly cozy short stories, generally about young people encountering magic (though there’s one pretty disturbing one that features dragons and mind control-based slavery and is pretty horrifying to think about, even though most of the implications were unexplored), and one early novella in which outsiders find a secret kingdom that seemed rather pointless. ( )
  rivkat | Jun 13, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diana Wynne Jonesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Craig, DanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To all at Greenwillow, for putting up with me all these years. - D. W. J.
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A collection of sixteen stories including "The Plague of Peacocks," "Aunt Bea's Day Out," "The Fat Wizard," "No One," and "Everard's Ride."

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  • The Girl Jones
  • Nad and Dan adn Quaffy
  • The Plague of Peacocks
  • The Master
  • Enna Hittims
  • The Girl Who Loved the Sun
  • The Fluffy Pink Toadstool
  • Auntie Bea's Day Out
  • Carruthers
  • What the Cat Told Me
  • The Green Stone
  • The Fat Wizard
  • No One
  • Dragon Reserve, Home Eight
  • Little Dot
  • Everard's Ride
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