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Although, having asked that question, I have a hard time deciding! My ultimate favourite is easily Fire and Hemlock, but I also spent all of high school rereading The Lives of Christopher Chant (and Witch Week), so I'm rather attached to both of them. And I've just recently discovered Howl's Moving Castle and absolutely love it. And then I feel I should mention Year of the Griffin and Hexwood, too...
I like how it shows how people can be phony and flawed, but you should still sometimes forgive them. And it is a good example of what I like best about her books, the fact that I think I know what's going on and then I realize I have no idea and the story seems impossible to tie together, and then she does anyway.
These I like the best are Fire and Hemlock, Hexwood, Howl's moving castle, the Magii books, and the Derkholm books.
The first books of hers I read Archer's goon and Dogsbody also get an occasional reread.
I just received Enchanted glass, and I am very much looking forward to reading it - which I think I will do right about now:-)
Except on days which Witch Week is my favorite.
The Spellcoats I haven't read in forever, but was at some time the champion (maybe it will reclaim the throne in a long-due reread?). Hexwood is also very enjoyable, and while Howl's Moving Castle has never been a favorite, it is possibly the one that inspires the most fuzzy feelings.
(I think Charmed Life or Cart and Cwidder or Witch Week was my first. I am still very very fond of Charmed Life.)
Tho I actually like everything of hers I've ever read.
DWJ was diagnosed with lung cancer last year and decided to discontinue chemo in June this year. Doctors are apparently not optimistic. Sad news.
I discovered Diana Wynne Jones as a child and I keep returning to her works, both new and old. She is one of the few authors I know who can create reassuring worlds that I love to emerse myself in but is also uncompromising on the often harsh realities of life and human behaviour. Terry Pratchett does a similar thing where he makes the reader laugh heartily just before pulling the rug out from under you. When Jones wants to make an emotional impact it really connects.
As to favourites, um how many is too many? Possibly Howl's Moving Castle, Deep Secret, Darklord of Derkholm, but really it's too difficult to choose. I've just found The Merlin Conspiracy in my local library which has Nick Mallory from Deep Secret as one of the characters which was a happy discovery.
A good judge of what your favourite might be deciding, if you were faced with all the books in front of you, which one would you re-read? Or which one would you grab in an emergency? (I can't imagine what that emergency would be, though!) That's a hard one, I think.
I've always felt that Hexwood doesn't quite play fair with the reader, but after reading this critique (interestingly, the only review this member has posted) I'm tempted to go back and re-read the story to see if it's as bad as presented here or whether it has more redeeming features than is here suggested.
I do not understand all the love for Dark Lord of Derkholm here. On a recent re-read I found it so dull, humorless and depressing it was hard to finish--very rare with DWJ! Year of the Griffin was much better.
Humour is such a personal thing, isn't it. I found the humour in Dark Lord of the kind to make me smile or nod rather than have a good belly laugh. Dull I would dispute, though, despite finding the story slow to start. Depressing? As much of fantasy is about evil countered, I wouldn't have counted Dark Lord as depressing, more as typical of its genre, especially when it soon became clear who the real dark lord of the tale was, and it wasn't Derk.
The sequel I enjoyed too, but the focus was very much on the failings of higher education.
Of your favourites, I agree they are brilliant books all, though I liked Homeward Bounders and Archer's Goon less.