Aileen is the last of a line of wise women on the island of Skarr, but her initiation ritual failed and she really doesn’t want to go back into the Place to try again. Then Aileen and her aunt Beck are sent off with a small group to gather someone from each of the islands of Chaldea, break the magical barrier to Logra and rescue the kidnapped prince. Along the way they are joined by an ugly, invisible cat, a green parrot that talks sense and his monk, and other allies.
I was born too early to enjoy Diana Wynne Jones as a child, but I certainly have enjoyed her books as an adult. Her work is aimed at a young middle school audience, but Jones is another of those authors where I say to hell with the age rating and read her anyway.
This is the last book she wrote and stands alone – it’s not a Chrestomanci novel, even subtly. It was completed after her death by her sister, who has done a marvelous job of keeping the tone true to her writing style. If you haven’t discovered Diana Wynne Jones before, then you have a treasure trove before you. Share it with your kids.