House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones (2008) 328 p.
This is the third and final book in the Howl trilogy, though it was written in 2008, a full eighteen years since Castle In The Air. House of Many Ways again takes us to a new location with new characters: the vaguely Mitteleuropan country of High Norland, and the young girl Charmain, who has been roped into housesitting her wizard uncle’s house while he goes away for medical treatment.
This is the only book in the series where I didn’t already know the plot, since I’d seen the film version of Howl’s Moving Castle and read Castle In The Air in primary school. Unfortunately I think it’s a bit of a step down from the first two books. There’s a lot of domestic slapstick comedy going on, with bursting water pipes and clueless children and a feud with the kobold servants. There’s not so much actual adventure and excitement, and the serious plot which does eventually develop is dealt with in a pretty perfunctory manner. Although come to think of it, that was the case in the first two books, so maybe nostalgia made me happily overlook it? I’ll have to try some more of Jones’ fiction to get a better idea. House of Many Ways was a bit of a lacklustre ending to a trilogy, and didn’t leave me with much to say about it.