Young merchant Abdullah leads a humble life. Or he did until a stranger sold him a threadbare–and disagreeable–magic carpet. Now Abdullah is caught in the middle of his grand daydreams. Waking one night in a luxurious garden, he meets and falls instantly in love with the beautiful and clever Flower-in-the-Night. But a wicked djinn sweeps the princess away right before Abdullah’s eyes, leaving the young man no choice but to follow. This is no ordinary quest, however, for Flower-in-the-Night isn’t all the djinn has stolen. Abdullah will have the so-called help of the cantankerous carpet, a cranky genie in a bottle, a dishonest soldier, and a very opinionated black cat. Will this motley crew be able to find the djinn’s mysterious dwelling and rescue a castle full of princesses?
I really love the tongue-in-cheek tone in the two Diana Wynne Jones books that I have read. It makes the novel clever and pushes the humorous aspect of it to the forefront even when the events in the novel are of a rather serious nature. Castle in the Air tells the story of poor Abdullah who is manipulated without even knowing it into fulfilling the prophecy made at his birth. There is a genie, there is a shape or rather size-changing cat (and kitten), princes, princesses (a whole lot of them), true love, grasping greedy family members and adventure. The flying carpet that has a personality of its own and Abdullah’s one true love “Flower By Night” whose innocence hides a razor sharp, logical mind that won me over.
More than all of the stuff already mentioned, I believe it is the latter half of the story that will win your love. It is very clever and subtly done that I can’t say anything at all without giving it away. And it would be such a pity to give it away and take away your chance to discover the story for yourself. If you haven’t tried Diana Wynne Jones yet, I urge you to do so. I, too, took a while before reading her most famous series (Howl’s Moving Castle immortalized by the animated movie by the same name) but I am determined to read as much of her work as possible. Strongly recommended