Retro Friday Review: Stopping For A Spell by Diana Wynne Jones

Retro Friday Review: Stopping For A Spell by Diana Wynne JonesStopping for a Spell by Diana Wynne Jones
Published by HarperCollins on 2012-01-31
Genres: Humorous Stories, Short Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 144
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

In three wild and wacky tales, find out what can happen when......An old armchair that you've finally decided to get rid of comes to life -- and has a definite attitude. It thinks it can rule the entire household!...Not one, but four grannies come to take care of you and your stepsister. You manage to work some magic, and are granted three wishes -- but soon fear you may get what you wished for!...The rudest uninvited house guest comes to visit -- and won't leave! He insults every person who comes his way. But when he starts in on the furniture, that's the last straw. Even the furniture thinks so!The bestselling illustrator of

Retro Friday Reviews is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville. It’s EXACTLY how it sounds, you review an older book on Friday.

Stopping For A Spell by Diana Wynne Jones was one of my later Dewey 24 Hour Readathon books, I read it around 2 a.m. so please be forgiving of my fuzzy detail recall, as I don’t have a copy of Stopping For A Spell sitting in front of me as I write  this review.

Stopping For A Spell was my first Diana Wynne Jones book and I am certain it won’t be my last. I am also positive that it isn’t the best of her work, but by no means is it bad or terrible. The book is divided by three short stories, each featuring magic in ordinary settings. No wizards or witches, just strange things coming to life and happening.

In the first story, Chair Person, the most irritating aunt ever comes to visit. She pretty much forces the entire family to run the charity sale while she does nothing but ‘supervise’. One charity item backfires, when it spills magic fluid on a chair, and the chair comes to life. Chair Person is exceedingly annoying. He overstays his welcome, eats and drinks all the food and threatens to eat people. Simon and Marcia, the two children of the family have to figure out how to make Chair Person turn back into a chair, so they can take him to the dump. It’s actually quite funny. Plus, I’m pretty sure we all have someone like that aunt in our lives, who are so well-intentioned, but really sort of hypocritical.

The second story is Four Grannies. In this story, Erg and Emily’s parents are going on a trip. Unfortunately they can’t find anyone to watch the children, and have tried contacting all four grannies who said no. However, each granny ends up feeling bad and goes to babysit Erg and Emily. Hilarity ensues when Erg makes a wish machine and it actually works. I love reading about mean old elderly people. So yay Four Grannies!

The very last story in Stopping For A Spell is Who Got Rid of Angus Flint. Okay, so basically Angus Flint is a douchebag who was kicked out by his wife. Being a douche, he takes advantage of his college friend’s hospitality and stays there for a long time. While staying at his friend’s house he is mean and rude. He kicks the dog. He hits the children. He complains about everything. He also refuses to leave. Now, in real life you get the police to get the guy out. However, in Diana Wynne Jones‘ world, there is a bit of poetic justice as something magical happens to get this dude out.

So, this is a fairly brief book, but not terrible as far as short stories go. I would recommend it to younger children. Or people who have to read everything Jones has ever written.

Disclosure: Purchased copy at library book sale.

Other Reviews:

Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog

Purchase Stopping For A Spell here.

*This counts as part of the Once Upon A Time V Challenge

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Oh, wow, your first Diana Wynne Jones book! I’d have picked out a better one for you if I’d been able to choose — but I’m glad you liked it! Maybe one of her better works next? The Homeward Bounders, Archer’s Goon, Howl’s Moving Castle?
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