Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones was entirely unexpected. I admittedly did not even read the synopsis before delving in, which in retrospect was probably why I found the book so surprising. I was excepting something along the lines of her other books (e.g. the Chrestomanci books or Howl’s Moving Castle) but Deep Secret struck me as something similar to / reminiscent of The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – Not in storyline so much as in style.
I don’t really know how to sum up the story but here is my lame attempt:
The Universe is really the Multiverse – with lots of layers and worlds, some being Naywards and some Aftwards. It’s the Magid’s job to oversee what goes on – sort of like a guide. Rupert is a junior Magid whose territory includes both Earth and the Empire of Korfyros. When his mentor dies Rupert must find a replacement Magid. Unfortunately for Rupert, things start to go sour in the Empire of Korfyros when the Emperor dies. Rupert must find a replacement Magid and find the hidden heir to the Empire. Rupert’s search for the new Magid leads him to Maree and Nick Mallory – two cousins who might be more trouble than Rupert knows.
I did not really think this book was a children’s book or a young adult book. It’s definitely fantasy, and weaves the story around Earth and the other worlds pretty deftly.
I liked most of the main characters (Rupert, Stan, Maree, Nick), although I never really identified with or really felt deeply for any of them. I found the story a bit confusing as I tried to piece together what exactly a Magid was or did, and why he would be so involved with the Empire – and what was going on with the whole infinity loop / lots of worlds thing. In the end I gave up trying to understand and just went with the flow.
I wasn’t deeply attached to or emotionally invested in the story or any of the characters, though I was happy enough when good things happened (eventually). I felt like the story had too many threads perhaps. I didn’t really understand what was happening in some of the action bits, which was frustrating, though Rupert did explain most things afterward.
All in all, a decent read but not overwhelmingly so. I’d rate it 3.5 out of 5.