If you have not had the good fortune to read any of Diana’s novels, well, it’s a real shame. And if you have not had the good fortune to see the animated adaptation of one of her novel’s Howl’s Moving Castle, than you must be living under a rock, a rock that is most likely absurdly boring and where fantasy refuses to grow. Some people are still astonished to know that the Miyazaki film is based off of a novel. In fact there are three novels about Howl and Sophie in which they get married and have a child.
But this is not about that series. I don’t recall when I purchased the book Deep Secret, but it has had a place on my to read shelves for a deal of time. I seem to be on a binge of magical novels at the moment, probably to do with the next book I’m working on…inspiration. The premise is that magicians called Magid are scattered all about the universes and worlds and realms throughout “space”, and that they all lie in the inifinite symbol, a sideway eight as it were. One such Magid living on Earth is Rupert Venables, and he is called to see to trial in another world, where he is the supervising Magid. From this trial things start to go hilariously wrong, but all with the intention of the Upper Room.
Rupert’s senior Magid dies and so it is now his duty to enlist a new Magid. He is given a list of candidates and is curtailed at every turn in finding them to interview them for the position. One of the candidates, a Maree Mallory, has a particular way of annoying Rupert. She has a strange family and a great talent for hopping from one place to the next just as Rupert is about to find her. Tagging along with Maree is her teenage cousin, Nick. What eventually comes to pass is Rupert, frustrated, concocts a reason to call all the candidates together into one place, something like a incredibly bizaare comiccon, al while also trying to help the other world find it’s next ruler as the previous emperor was killed in a bombing.
Things become twisted, perilous, funny, strange and incredibly unexpected as the now interwoven lives of Rupert, his candidates and his quietly peculiar neighbor all coalesce in a hotel for this science fiction convention.
Over all this novel and the universes in which the character’s lives play out is so well rounded and such a whole creation that even though things are not set about as explained in every little detail it is not at all confusing and the magical properties are uniquely reimagined. The story has the humor of most Brittish writers. They seem to have a knack for saying things in the most brilliant way with loads of dry wit and sarcasm. Deep Secret’s main character Rupert and the writing reminded me of Terry Pratchett many times throughout. However, the humor is really the only bit that the two writers have in common. The worlds they created are completely different and the magic is as well. Where most magic has spells and charms and runes to depict that magic is happening, Deep Secret is different in that there are no outward signs that a Magid is a Magid or that magic is being worked. I found that intriguing and sensible and works just as well a wizard with a wand.
Deep Secret was published in 1997 and was marketed for adults. In 2003 Diana published a follow up novel, the second in the series called The Merlin Conspiracy, which was published in 2003. In 2009 she was diagnosed with lung cancer, which was operated on promptly. The operation was deemed a success but in 2010 she discontinued her chemotherapy treatment and lived almost one whole year more until she succumbed to the disease. At the time of her death she was in the middle of another project with hopes for even more to follow. She is most assuredly a greatly missed writer and one can only imagine what more wonderful and great places she could have taken readers. As it is, there are a great deal of her works available to enjoy. I suggest reading all of them.