Susan's Reviews > Eight Days of Luke

Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones
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's review
Oct 25, 11

bookshelves: blog-cirque-des-geeks, literature-of-children, look-nay-lady-authors
Read in April, 2011


It was a very strange experience reading this book again. I’d read it a few times when I was younger, and every time I did I enjoyed it, but I had a feeling that I was missing something. I know a lot more about Norse muthology now (and I have friends who can summarise the Ring Cycle in five minutes or less), and suddenly I understand almost everything about this book!

The two halves of this story are very different - one half about hiding or hanging out with Luke, and the other half a mystery story - but they’re both equally fun. The world building is AWESOME, and I love how the mythology is worked into the world and modernised (it’s a little bit of a cook’s tour of Norse mythology with elements of the Ring Cycle - you don’t lose anything by reading it without knowing anything, but if you do there are things that make more sense). I love the link between the visitations and the days, I love the way the plot and character threads manage to fit together neatly (such as the neighbour character who is mentioned in passing and later becomes important, or the cricket players, or Astrid). The way David’s family is wrapped up at the end is a little too tidy in my opinion(*) and removes some of Astrid’s agency, which is sad.

On top of this, there are the characters. At least half of them are stereotypically awful - David’s family are a prime example of this, in that they’re the generic, shrewish figures who don’t really have much depth. Astrid is the only one in the family who doesn’t fit this - she actually has character development, and in my opinion she turns out to be quite a likeable character. The less mundane David, of course, is my favourite (Him and Luke are the BEST TEAM oh my goodness.). He’s very easy to understand - I can see exactly how he thinks he’s being polite to his family and they’re over-reacting to him, and I can see why he can’t stand them. It’s also interesting to see how his family, awful as they are, have prepared him for the social situations he finds himself in - while the people who he meets through Luke teach him how to deal with his family. I find it to be a nice contrast!

I think his relationship with Luke is one of the best bits of the book though. David is charmed by Luke but also realises very early on that no matter how much he likes Luke (or how much I like him - Luke is so much fun and manages to be suitably inhuman and still human enough and - the way he only seems to care about David, regardless of reasons! Like I said, I think it's fun.) he's dangerous. Luke cares more about cleverness than people, and David not only realises that but he appreciates it and learns to be bloody careful.

David also has the nice contrast of "being fairly smart as a protagonist" and "being completely oblivious because he is a young boy/teenager", or believing things that he shouldn't, and he deals with the mystery and associated strangeness in a believable way (no, really, he cares more about the real life problems, like being ashamed of his uncle, than he does about the supernatural problems which is kinda how I like my children's fantasy books.)

Um... The long and the short of it is, I really enjoy this book! If you want to start reading Diana Wynne Jones' books and have no idea where to start, I think this is a good place to do so. (And then obviously read all the rest of them!)

(*): This isn't necessarily handled in a bad way, as it does clear up some plot points, but it's done noticeably. I don't know why this pings for me and David's accident with the wall doesn't.

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