I’ve just moved into a new home, so I thought I’d do a post about books featuring houses, castles, and buildings. Though my own place is small and unspectacular (but I do love it) these structures are all significant in their own right, and often magically unusual. Books about unusual dwelling places are often among my favorites.
The first one is obviously the Harry Potter series, by J K Rowling, featuring Hogwarts Castle, that castle in Scotland that almost has a mind of its own. Staircases move, doors hide, and one room materializes in whatever way necessary. I think this is probably the first “book about a building” I read.
Even more so than Hogwarts, Castle Glower in Tuesdays at the Castle, a wonderful book by Jessica Day George, has a mind of its own. Castle Glower adds, takes away, or modifies rooms at a whim — but only on Tuesdays. Castle Glower adds rooms when they are necessary, such as a feasting hall for the holidays and extra store rooms full of needed supplies. The castle also indicates the trustworthiness of its inhabitants, particularly the foreign embassadors, by the splendor of their rooms — and the castle is a shrewd judge of character.
The house in House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones is not particularly sentient, but it is quite unusual. This wizard’s house must be navigated in particular ways, which I fear I cannot describe justly, not having a copy of the book to hand. The navigation of the house was definitely one of the things I most enjoyed about this book.
Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones features a flying castle, with a door that leads to four different places, depending on which way you open the handle, and a fire demon in the fireplace.
Drift House, in Dale Peck’s book of the same name, is a transtemporal vessel sailing on the sea of time. When the three children arrive to live with their uncle, it’s a seemingly ordinary house sitting, if rather crookedly, in an ordinary plot of land. Soon thereafter it drifts away in time.
Madame Bella’s cottage, in The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey, is bigger on the outside than on the inside. The house is staffed by four brownies, and also creates new rooms when they are needed. The fires are entirely normal, but there is an enchanted mirror.
I recently picked up The Door to Time, by Ulysses Moore, from the Friends of the Library Bookstore. According to the back of the cover, the mansion that the main characters have just moved into has a door, secretly hidden behind a wardrobe, that has much of magic and mystery about it.