Diana Wynne Jones A. R. Williams - Essay

A. R. Williams

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Although The Time of the Ghost] is told by a ghost, the ghost is puzzled rather than tortured; at least, the ghost is tortured only to the extent that she does not quite know who she is. The four Melford sisters (one of whom she might be) have parents who are so preoccupied with the running of their private school that one of the sisters absents herself without being missed by anyone. It would be improper to reveal the rest of the plot but apart from the personalities of the girls the book's charm lies in its weirdly hilarious vignettes of the school and its boys, the family life of the girls, and often and just as entertainingly in the combination of both. A sinister thread does come to the surface occasionally but one never knows how seriously to regard it and perhaps the readers may feel cheated at the end, but not many will mind. Miss Wynne Jones has broken the rules of fantasy before and got away with it. If single adjectives are required, there is a choice of whacky, grotty or kooky, but certainly not grotesque, mind-boggling or quaint. (p. 34)

A. R. Williams, in a review of "The Time of the Ghost," in The Junior Bookshelf, Vol. 46, No. 1, February, 1982, pp. 33-4.