Jenna's Reviews > Dark Lord of Derkholm

Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
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's review
Dec 08, 2010

did not like it

I will be honest; I did not like this book. It is definitely one of my least favorites so far that we have read in this class. I generally do not like fantasy and this one had very little connection to the real world. Even the family structures were unfamiliar to me. It was certainly very creative, I will give the author that; however, I really felt like it was too creative, too original. In my opinion, when a story or novel gets too “out there,” it becomes too difficult to the casual reader to relate to, too difficult to even understand the plot line or setting – basic elements of literature. The young adult reader especially is not likely to take the time to figure out the various aspects of this complicated world.
Another aspect of this novel that really bothered me was the omniscient narrator. I felt like the narrator knew too much and revealed too much. As a reader, I was confused which character I should follow, who was the protagonist, who I should cheer for, etc. Most of the young adult novels we read have had one main character through whose eyes the story is told. It helps me feel more invested in the story when there is one protagonist. In this novel I did not feel invested at all partly because of the point of view of the narrator. I did not realize how big an impact the point of view could have on the accessibility of a story until I came across this one. I was simply confused the whole time.
Knowing that Diana Jones studied under famous authors like Tolkien helps explain the complex world and intricate descriptions. I have tried to read books like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I quickly lose interest when I get lost in the descriptions. I guess that is just a characteristic of fantasy and another reason why I am not a big fan of the genre in general. I hope as a teacher this prejudice does not stop me from using them in the classroom, however, I do not think I would feel to guilty if it did. I do not remember ever reading fantasy in any of my classes and there are so many other genres of novels that more effectively teach the same lessons that can be found in these fantasy novels. Of course I would let my students read them on their own for reading logs, etc. It would be interesting for me to hear their responses to these types of novels and the value they see in them. I am sure it is there, it is just really difficult for me, personally, to find. And that’s my two cents, for whatever it is worth. ☺

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