Deep Secret

Posted by : atcampbell | On : May 16, 2000

Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones

Seven people attended the discussion of Deep Secret, and one person submitted comments by e-mail. Deep Secret is a light fantasy novel set largely in our world in the present. Rupert Venables, a young magid (an interdimensional wizard) is assigned the task of recruiting a new magid from Earth. To simplify his task, he compiles a list of suitable candidates and arranges for all of them to attend a science fiction convention held in Great Britain during Easter weekend. Rupert’s experiences at the con are complicated by centaurs, obnoxious writers, a struggle for succession in an other-dimensional kingdom, and romance.

We liked a lot about this book. The story and characters were engaging, and we appreciated the novelty of a story taking place at a convention. Many details of the convention (hotel overbooking, egotistical authors, strange slogans on T-shirts, etc.) rang true, and we appreciated Jones giving a generally positive portrayal of SF fans. The story was a good mixture of light and dark elements. We found the secret magid society interesting. Many of us were in a mood for a less serious book than we’d been reading recently, and we felt that Jones offered “superior mind candy.”

Deep Secret had some problems. Some in the group wanted to see less of the convention and more of the other dimensions. The author’s treatment of professional writers and overweight people seemed remarkably unkind, particularly since Diana Wynne Jones herself falls into both categories. Multiple first-person narrators told the story, and sometimes we ended up reading a scene twice without gaining any new insights in the second go-round. The last chapter, taking place after the story is over, is a particularly bad example of needless retelling.

Overall this was a fun book, and we’re looking forward to reading more from Diana Wynne Jones.

— A. T. Campbell, III