Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Series: Castle series #2
285 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: Abdullah is a carpet merchant from the southern country of Zanzib, and since he has a rather dull life, being harassed by his relations to get a few wives, Abdullah spends a lot of time daydreaming about himself being a prince that was kidnapped when he was younger and falling in love with a beautiful princess. One day, a mysterious stranger sells him a magic flying carpet, and after buying it, Abdullah falls asleep on the carpet, only to wake up in the garden of the wealthy sultan. He meets the royal princess, Flower-In-The-Night and falls in love with her, and she with him. The two decide to elope, but before they can, an evil Djinn appears and kidnaps her! Worse still, the Sultan thinks Abdullah is the actual kidnapper. And to top it all off, somehow, all of Abdullah’s wildest daydreams are literally coming true!
My Thoughts: Again, this book is part of a series that can be read in any order since the books do well as stand-alone novels too, but you definitely get a better experience if you read them in order. Anyway, I personally really enjoyed this book, another funny and magical adventure! It’s reminiscent of the story of Aladdin, with the magic flying carpet and genies in a bottle. And geez, the way everyone talks in Zanzib is so ridiculously polite, it’s hilarious! I know some people may not find the romance between Flower-In-The-Night and Abdullah realistic (they just BAM! suddenly fell in love at first sight), but keep in mind this is a book aiming for a fairy tale style, targeted to children. I think it’s allowed to do things like that ;)
There were a few things that rubbed me the wrong way though. When Abdullah ends up in the castle in the sky, his role in the story was suddenly minimized too, and that kind of bothered me. He’s supposed to be the main character, but once Sophie entered the picture, she took over. Not that I wasn’t happy to see Sophie (and Howl and Calcifer, for that matter) but Abdullah is supposed to be the main character! Lastly, the ending tied up everything too neatly for my liking. I’m not fond of endings where everything just so coincidentally and conveniently falls into place, but like I mentioned before, it’s a children’s book that’s sort of fairy-tale-ish, so I can understand that.
Ah, but don’t be put off by my complaints, they are not big deals, and this really is a fun book to read if you’re into fantasy aimed for the 9-12 year olds (which, obviously, I am!) I was super happy to reunite with Sophie, Howl and Calcifer. They were in the whole novel, but you don’t see/find them until near the very end, which in turn, gives this re-reading value because now when you re-read it, you know a lot more and might pay attention more to the finer details ;)