With this, we reach the end.
Earwig and the Witch is an illustrated children’s book (aimed at ages 8-12) published this year, though it was prepared before Jones passed away. It tells the story of a girl called Earwig, who lives quite happily at an orphanage, where she’s able to make everyone do what she wants. But then a very peculiar couple comes along and adopts her, and for the first time in her life, Earwig finds herself facing a challenge.
It’s a short book, of course, and (perhaps because of Paul O. Zelinsky’s illustrations) has a distinctly Roald Dahl vibe about it. If I find myself wanting more — more about Earwig’s friend Custard, and more about the circumstances that led to her being left on the orphanage doorstep, years ago — that’s par for the course, rather than any particular flaw in the story itself.
And of course, I do want more. I saved reading this book until today, and knew that sitting down with it would make me sad, because it’s the last one. There’s a collection of Jones’ essays underway, and I’m looking forward to that; there may be unpublished manuscripts or half-finished books that will yet find their way out into the world. If any such things appear, I’ll read them, because I want to soak up any last drop that I can. But in essence, there will be no more fiction from Diana Wynne Jones.
She was, as I said before, the reason I became a writer. Her books have been with me for more than two-thirds of my life. I don’t love all of them; this re-read has uncovered a number that don’t click with me for some reason, and a few that aren’t very good at all. But her body of work is amazing.
Requiescas in pace, Diana Wynne Jones. And thank you.