Diana Wynne Jones Margery Fisher - Essay

Margery Fisher

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

By now we can trust Diana Wynne Jones to sustain daylight magic with aplomb, humour and total logic. Like The Ogre downstairs, her new story, Eight days of Luke, is based on the intrusion of mythological figures into a tense, confused family situation. David suffers from a plethora of unprepossessing and unfeeling relatives—a great-aunt and great-uncle, their son and daughter-in-law, who, after grudgingly offering him a home, ignore him as far as they can. At the beginning of the summer holidays, when arrangements are in a muddle and tempers decidedly frayed, David gets rid of his accumulated misery by reciting a resounding curse against his relations. He is on the compost heap at the time and the result is sudden and surprising—the wall falls down, fire flares up, snakes wriggle out of the ground, and while he is bashing them with a spade a strange boy appears from nowhere to help him. Luke—not quite a friend, too unexpected to be an altogether effective ally—is in flight from strange, raven-supported enemies. In spite of his wayward behaviour he commands David's regard and respect, and they find unexpected help from Astrid, wife to smug Cousin Ronald, who at last allows herself to express her own distaste for the mean, bullying Allards. Astrid's name proves to be significant, for Luke and his pursuers (Mr. and Mrs. Fry, Mr. Chew and Mr. Wedding) have materialised out of Norse mythology, and the Hammer of Thor is the most important of many symbols that guide the reader through the convolutions of the plot. Wit and humour are employed to carry through a bold, intriguing invention, in which human frailties and idiosyncracies are unerringly related to the distantly reverberant sounds of myth-psychology. (p. 2601)

Margery Fisher, "A Tangential View of Everyday," in her Growing Point, Vol. 13, No. 9, April, 1975, pp. 2597-2601.∗