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Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,941 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Master storyteller Diana Wynne Jones presents a riveting collection of unpredictable tales, including:

* A cat tells how the kindhearted wizard she owns is suddenly called upon to defeat a horrific Beast.

* When Anne has mumps, her drawings come to life, and she must protect her home from them

* Four children become involved in the intrigue surrounding an innocent prince, an
Paperback, 590 pages
Published 2005 by Greenwillow Books (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,941 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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A lovely collection of short stories -- one or two I'd read before, I think, but the rest were new to me since I'm somewhat new to Jones' writing: I never read her work as a child. Some of the stories are fantastical, one or two more sci-fi, and one of them autobiographical (and also collected in Reflections with Jones' other non-fiction). In many ways, they're very typical of Diana Wynne Jones' work -- though I found them somehow more complete and satisfying than some of her other books, despit ...more
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a fairly fun anthology. Not the author's best work, but not her worst either.

-Nad and Dan adn Quaffy gets a mention because it's about a writer who . . . well, I can't explain it without giving away the story, but it was quite amusing. Not my favorite in the book, but it was fun.
-The Master is a thoroughly strange story, and rather creepy to boot, but interesting to read and try to puzzle out what's going on. I have certain suspicions about what happened after the story'
Alex Ankarr
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this so much. Bear in mind if you're addicted to HEA and HFN, this may not be the book for you. The world is heaven and hell combined - well, Milton says so, and I find it credible - and Diana expects you to be a grown-up and take your lumps, be strong enough to deal with the truth.

If you've got enough backbone for it, this book is exhilarating.
This volume brings together fifteen stories (all but three of which I'd read before) and a novella, "Everard's Ride". Spanning genres from science fiction to fantasy and even a touch of horror (in "The Master"), all of the stories show off Jones' wit and wild imagination, qualities which make her one of the best young adult fantasy writers of today (perhaps one of the best fantasy writers of today, period). I was disappointed, though, that so many of the stories had been in previous collections ...more
Aug 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
The title is so apt in both senses, in that in DWJ's worlds anything can happen (and usually does) plus that for the reader the stories can (and do) provide the magic that may be missing in their own more prosaic world.

The stories are a little uneven, as they are aimed at different audiences (those who like whimsy, or cats, or were once in a bygone age bemused by word processors). The novella, Everard's Ride, for me was misplaced in this collection: first, its additional length made the paperbac
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really don't think it is fair to give a blanket rating to a collection of very different stories, so I'm going to break it down a bit more, keeping in mind that this book is shelved in the Juvenile section of my library, so I will be commenting on age approprietness or not in each story's review.

The Girl Jones feels very much like a biographical story, not sure how much of it is or isn't true, but it's rather funny, and as someone who avidly avoided babysitting as a teen, I can totally relate

Althea Ann
Nov 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
A good collection of Diana Wynne Jones’ short fiction. They’re not all her best work, but there’s some excellent stories here. Recommended for her fans.

The Girl Jones
A most excellent way to get out of babysitting, forever. Hilarious. Not fantasy, though.

Nad and Dan and Quaffy
Eh, I didn’t care for this one. Too self-referential, and kind of annoying. A female writer, at her word processor, makes contact with an alternate universe.

The Plague of Peacocks
A peaceful village is invaded by new neighbor
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's my preference for short story collections not to give star ratings to each story, but to mark whether I felt positively or negatively toward them when I finished each.

1. The Girl Jones +
2. Nad and Dan adn Quaffy + (fun)
3. The Plague of Peacocks + ☺ (love when people get what's deserved)
4. The Master +
5. Enna Hittims +
6. The Girl Who Loved the Sun +
7. The Fluffy Pink Toadstool + ☺
8. Auntie Bea's Day Out +
9. Carruthers - (main character was a brat from the first moment)
10. What the Cat Told
If you don't want to read this entire book, start at the end with "Everard's Ride" and then work your way backwards through the stories. When you get to stories you don't like, stop, because they only diminish in quality the closer you get to the beginning of the book. I think some of the stories - even ones I didn't really like - could be worked into pretty good full-lenth novels. But here in their short story form, they just don't do much for me. Besides the novella "Everard's Ride," which I r ...more
Feb 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is probably a really good book to start with if you don't know DWJ yet. It's a collection of (magical) short stories and one novella (Everard's Ride), which was also my absolute favourite piece out of the book. It's a very dense story, not quite a fairytale, rather a sort of medieval tale, really gorgeous.
What I love most about DWJ's stories is that magic, in all of her writing, is an everyday thing - it's part of life, usually not mentioned as something special. She makes it seem natural a
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A mix of old favorites ("Nad adn Dan and Quaffy", "Dragon Reserve Home Eight", "The Girl Who Loved The Sun," "The Master", and many others), and a few ones I had never read before: "The Girl Jones" -- a fun, clever, ?autobiographical vignette, "No One" -- a scifi romp about "smart" houses that is all too prescient to read in 2020, "Little Dot" -- a delightful cat story I had somehow never encountered before, although I had
Neil Anderson
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At when readers pick up this book, they will be intruded and mystified about the magical stories in this book. If you can expect the unexpected, you will like this Unexpected Magic by Diana Wynne Jones. This book contains multiple stories which all have original plots. In each of them something magical seems to happen. I love how the book easily captured my childlike wonder with enchanting scenarios. This is especially true in the story called Enna Hittims where a little girl named Anne Mittins ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
DWJ's short stories are varied in tone, but the themes are familiar from her longer works. Etta Hittims shows the downside of having a Sophie-like mind, while also echoing Hexwood. My favourite story is The Fat Wizard, which I would have loved to see extended to booklength. Mind you, it has elements of Enchanted Glass, so maybe it WAS. Other stories, including the Plague of Peacocks and The Fluffy Pink Toadstool, remind me of Joan Aiken's stories about Mark and Harriet. That's all good, since I ...more
Sarah Laing
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
I never read any Diana Wynne Jones until AFTER she died - shame on me - but I don't think I'd heard of her either. She takes credit for inspiring J K Rowling. She has an extraordinary imagination - her stories veer off in all sorts of random, magical, captivating directions. Now I'm starting Neil Gaiman's 'The Graveyard Book' - a present to my 8-year-old from his aunt - which has a DWJ endorsement on the cover. ...more
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I kept forgetting that all of these stories were by the same author. I have always loved Howl's Moving Castle, and as an adult I was so happy to find that Jones had written more books and stories. ...more
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, kindle
I remember reading this book a lot as a kid, and as evidence of that I remember almost every single story the moment I began to read it. The one exception to that was Everard's Ride, which seems to have completely purged itself from my mind for some reason. Of course, as with any anthology, I loved some of these stories and thought others were pretty awful. But there were more I loved than I loathed, and some of them, having stuck with me since I was a kid, have gotten the chance to renew themse ...more
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
When Harry Potter came out, I went around telling people to read Diana Wynne Jones instead. That's how much of a fan girl I was. (And am: DWJ books grace my reread lists year after year while I have still never got past the first 100 pages of Goblet of Fire. Turns out I don't give tuppence about sports, even magical ones.)

Sadly, I don't think DWJ is at her best in short stories. The things I like best about her writing are her quirky characters and her ability to write plots that masquerade as n
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, mg
Usually I don't like short stories. I like to lose myself in the vast, meadow-like expanses of a novel and feel disappointed when a short story is over, as if I had stubbed my toe on the ending. But Diana Wynne Jones is so wonderful that even the short ones seem worth while, especially the autobiographical one about herself at age 9 called "the girl Jones" who leads the local children astray, the story about a cat named Dot who owns a wizard (from her point of view, of course), and best of all, ...more
Ashley Lambert-Maberly
I thought I was the world's biggest Diana Wynne Jones fan, but apparently even I have my limits. I'm not sure the short form shows her off to best advantage, and after a while (a short while) some of the stories seem awfully repetitive. Yes, I enjoy her style and savour that consistent tone, but so many stories feature difficult characters and exasperated protagonists. It's there in her novels too, but I read those spaced apart. This felt like a cake, where the first slice tasted great, but you ...more
Lisa Findley
3.5 stars. I wonder if this was ordered chronologically, because otherwise I see no reason to order it this way -- the first three stories were fairly uninteresting, and a less socially distanced reader might lose interest. Things pick up with a weird and creepy tale of wolves ("The Master"), and there are not 1 but 2 fun stories told from the point of view of cats living with wizards ("What the Cat Told Me" and "Little Dot"). I could really do without the fatphobia in several stories, especiall ...more
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely collection of fifteen stories and one novella, mostly fantasy with a little sci-fi and horror in the mix, and one autobiographical sketch. Like almost all short story collections, some of these were home runs for me and others were rather pedestrian. The novella that closes out the collection (more of a short book than a novella at 230 pages), "Everard's Ride", was wonderful - a fantasy world intruding on the real world of Victorian England and sweeping up two children in its plots and ...more
Ginny Kaczmarek
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Delightful collection overall. The first story was not my favorite--a little too ordinary, almost a personal essay--but each successive tale showcased Jones' unlimited imagination and willingness to cross literary boundaries. Whether writing from the perspective of a cat, tormenting an obnoxious auntie with a mysteriously moving island, or combining high fantasy with science fiction (the short story "Dragon Reserve, Home Eight" was my favorite), a sly wit enhances each tale. ...more
Alexis Hubsky
I have a hard time rating Short Story collections just due to the fact all the stories are different, but I feel like this collection deserves a good 4 star rating. DJW has an awesome writing style and I am glad I got a taste of what it's like before I start one of her series.

She has a good taste of creating characters and different stories. None of these stories felt too similair and that was nice.

It took me a long time to get through with this collection, but It was nice to finish.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a good read for readers who are already fans of Diana Wynne Jones. I found the short story format to be a little harder to stay engaged with, but it got better as it went on. The last and longest story is a real treat! I feel like I've gained more insight into the author and her writing style, which I deeply admire. ...more
Asha - A Cat, A Book, And A Cup Of Tea
An enjoyable set of stories, but again with putting novellas at the end! I liked Everard's Ride, but I read short story anthologies because I want SHORT stories! Novellas are not at all the same thing and even if the story is good, leave me feeling on a downer with the whole collection. But the writing is excellent, as always with DWJ, and I'm glad to have read these. ...more
While I like Diana Wynne Jones, I've never been a big fan of short stories, so it's commendable that I enjoyed this one as much as I did. I especially enjoyed Dragon Reserve, Home Eight, and would love to read it as a continuing series. However, my overall favorite was Little Dot. The rest were light and readable, but short stories are still just not my thing. ...more
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Always unsure how to rate collected stories, especially when the stories inside are so vastly different from each other. Many stories are whimsical and fun in true DWJ style. Little Dot will forever hold a special place in my heart.

This is definitely a solid collection for a Jones fan to invest in.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: collections
most of these were fun little stories written by the very creative Diana Wynne Jones. If they weren't very relatable they were over the top fantastic and there was only one or two i didn't like, but that's to be expected in a collection of stories like this with a variety of genres. ...more
Oct 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Most of these stories are pretty good, but the final novella was just meh. I liked the differentness of these stories in that they are mostly fantastical, but in an unconventional way.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This anthology of short stories is full of small jewels. I especially enjoyed 'The Plague of Peacocks'; the Platts and Daniel Emmanuel were perfect. Simply delightful. ...more
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Diana was born in London, the daughter of Marjorie (née Jackson) and Richard Aneurin Jones, both of whom were teachers. When war was announced, shortly after her fifth birthday, she was evacuated to Wales, and thereafter moved several times, including periods in Coniston Water, in York, and back in London. In 1943 her family finally settled in Thaxted, Essex, where her parents worked running an ed ...more

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