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Eight Days of Luke Paperback – February 18, 2003

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books (February 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064473570
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064473576
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,074,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

David dreads the upcoming holidays. Usually it means he is sent to camp or on an educational tour. This year, things are worsehis great-aunt and -uncle are confused about the last day of school and must cancel their own trip because they haven't scheduled something for David. Even worse, David finds that he can't seem to do anything right, and is constantly in trouble. Then, while playing in the garden, David unleashes unseen forces from another world; only with the help of the mysterious Luke can he send the forces back to the earth. Summer becomes more interestingLuke can charm David's relatives into letting them do almost anythinguntil David learns that the forces he freed are beyond his control. Loosely based on Norse mythology, this story is a smooth blend of myth and reality, a task that Jones ( A Tale of Time City ) performs with ease and assurance. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A marvelous, mysterious adventure...an enjoyable puzzle...Another piece of fun from a master of whimsy. (School Library Journal)

An immensely enjoyable and dramatic story which should not be missed. (Times Literary Supplement (London))

A smooth blend of myth and reality, a task that Jones performs with ease and assurance. (Publishers Weekly)

Filled with tension and intrigue...A rich complexity distinguishes Jones storytelling. (ALA Booklist)

More About the Author

In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards--and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter--her books were filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy. From the very beginning, Diana Wynne Jones's books garnered literary accolades: her novel Dogsbody was a runner-up for the 1975 Carnegie Medal, and Charmed Life won the esteemed Guardian children's fiction prize in 1977. Since then, in addition to being translated into more than twenty languages, her books have earned a wide array of honors--including two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors--and appeared on countless best-of-the-year lists. Her work also found commercial success: in 1992 the BBC adapted her novel Archer's Goon into a six-part miniseries, and her best-selling Howl's Moving Castle was made into an animated film by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki in 2004. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006, and became one of the most financially successful Japanese films in history. The author herself has also been honored with many prestigious awards for the body of her work. She was given the British Fantasy Society's Karl Edward Wagner Award in 1999 for having made a significant impact on fantasy, received a D.Lit from Bristol University in 2006, and won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2007.

Born just outside London in 1934, Diana Wynne Jones had a childhood that was "very vivid and often very distressing"--one that became the fertile ground where her tremendous imagination took root. When the raids of World War II reached London in 1939, the five-year-old girl and her two younger sisters were torn from their suburban life and sent to Wales to live with their grandparents. This was to be the first of many migrations, one of which brought her family to Lane Head, a large manor in the author-populated Lake District and former residence of John Ruskin's secretary, W.G. Collingwood. This time marked an important moment in Diana Wynne Jones's life, where her writing ambitions were magnified by, in her own words, "early marginal contacts with the Great." She confesses to having "offending Arthur Ransome by making a noise on the shore beside his houseboat," erasing a stack of drawings by the late Ruskin himself in order to reuse the paper, and causing Beatrix Potter (who also lived nearby) to complain about her and her sister's behavior. "It struck me," Jones said, "that the Great were remarkably touchy and unpleasant, and I thought I would like to be the same, without the unpleasantness." Prompted by her penny-pinching father's refusal to buy the children any books, Diana Wynne Jones wrote her first novel at age twelve and entertained her sisters with readings of her stories. Those early stories--and much of her future work--were inspired by a limited but crucial foundation of classics: Malory's Morte D'Arthur, The Arabian Nights, and Epics and Romances of the Middle Ages. Fantasy was Jones's passion from the start, despite receiving little support from her often neglectful parents. This passion was fueled further during her tenure at St. Anne's College in Oxford, where lectures by J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis increased her fascination with myth and legend. She married Medievalist John Burrow in 1956; the couple have three sons and six grandchildren.

After a decade of rejections, Diana Wynne Jones's first novel, Changeover, was published in 1970. In 1973, she joined forces with her lifelong literary agent, Laura Cecil, and in the four decades to follow, Diana Wynne Jones wrote prodigiously, sometimes completing three titles in a single year. Along the way she gained a fiercely loyal following; many of her admirers became successful authors themselves, including Newbery Award winners Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman, and Newbery Honor Book author Megan Whalen Turner. A conference dedicated solely to her work was held at the University of West England, Bristol, in 2009. Diana Wynne Jones continued to write during her battle with lung cancer, which ultimately took her life in March 2011. Her last book, Earwig and the Witch, will be published by Greenwillow Books in 2012.

Customer Reviews

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The story is constantly moving - there isn't a spot where the storyline slows down and lags.
Stanley Climbfall
I have been drinking in all Diana Wynne Jones books lately because they are all so fun to read.
Veronica Rakestraw
Though shorter than many of her other books, this is a great read for adults and kids alike..
E. A Solinas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 1998
Format: Library Binding
David's life with his abominable relatives--hypochondriac Bernard, fault-finding Dot, self-righteous Ronald, and exasperating Astrid--abruptly changes when, in a fit of fury against his relatives, he creates a curse (appropriately fierce-sounding gibberish) and recites it in his back yard. Instead of something nasty for his relatives, however, he gets Luke: a mysterious, redheaded young man with an affinity for fire and a talent for troublemaking.
Luke's appearance is only the beginning of a bizarre set of events and peculiar visitations, from the malevolent Mr. Chew, to the preternaturally hearty Frys, to the twin ravens that constantly hang around David. The enigmatic Mr. Wedding has his own agenda, and some mystery hangs around the young man with the dragons. Before long, David finds himself moving between two worlds--his normal, everyday life with his relatives, and an unpredictable, mystical realm--and they both keep getting stranger.
As an admitted mythology addict, I loved "Eight Days of Luke." Figuring out, piece by piece, who the characters really are was half the fun in this book. The other half is Jones' delightful writing and the various complications that ensue as Luke (and what might be termed his set of bizarre relatives) enter into David's everyday life. Myth, folklore, and back-to-school shopping all combine in this novel; more impressively, they fit together naturally.
Everything I have ever read by Diana Wynne Jones has been excellent, and "Eight Days of Luke" was no disappointment. Even if you've never been one for mythology, read and enjoy!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
In the surge of fantasy books being reprinted, the formerly unavailable works of Diana Wynne-Jones are becoming available. "Eight Days of Luke" is a delight for fantasy and mythology buffs alike.
David dreads coming home for vacation. As his parents are dead, he lives with his horrible relatives: Uncle Bernard, Aunt Dot, Cousin Ronald and his wife Astrid, and the sinister housekeeper, all of whom insist that he be grateful to them. They tell him what to wear, how to speak, what to do, constantly talk about what a burden and a pain he is, and spend the rest of the time listening to Astrid and Bernard compare imaginary ailments.
While out doing yardwork, David utters a gibberish curse -- only to have a nearby wall erupt in a shower of snakes. Another boy named Luke appears, and offers to help David. Why? He says that David freed him, and David goes along with this. Luke charms David's nasty family, and as a result Astrid slowly begins to befriend David.
But Luke quickly displays that he can be dangerous as well as helpful. And he is strangely wary of the new people in the neighborhood: the Frys, one-eyed Mr. Wedding, and sinister gardener Mr. Chew. He claims that he was framed for something he didn't do -- but how is David going to help him?
Perhaps the only drawback of this book is that you need some basic knowledge of Norse mythology to know who people like the Frys, Mr. Wedding and Luke are; those who are not familiar with the myths may be hopelessly lost. So brush up on the basics before reading. As for the finale -- well, you'll definitely need to know about Norse myths. Jones doesn't tell us too much, but she doesn't tell us a lot either. The three old women will be recognizable easily, though: Similar characters have been featured in many other works of fantasy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sabrina on April 27, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With Mrs. Wynne Jones' full permission of course (they're great friends). This is a very entertaining book with a story featuring events not unlike those of the children in A Series Of Unfortunate Events, or probably more to the point, all of Dickens' hapless child protagonists. Still, it has all the hallmarks of the best DWJ stories: a feisty, resourceful hero, other characters who are, somewhat frighteningly, not what they seem, and sudden trips to magical landscapes which appear just around the corner from one's otherwise normal town. It's a wonderful book to read aloud.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John C. Stone on March 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not, in my opinion, the best story Diana Wynne Jones has ever written, but it is still a good story, and a fun read. The one thing I think would help it out would be to put the postscript at the beginning, so readers could understand more about the characters and the meaning of the escapades. Even with a classical education, and eight years at university resulting in three degrees, I found myself not always up on what the Norse gods were up to.And it helped to know.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shieldmaiden73 on September 9, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Aside the the fact that Loki is *not* a fire god (mistranslation by Wagner and confusion with the Norse personification of fire...LOGI) it was a great read.

I can see how Gaiman used it as his inspiration for American Gods. Read them both.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cecelia Larsen on October 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
I love visiting bookstores when I'm on vacation. First of all: books! And second, I've already given myself permission to relax, eat, drink and be merry, and reading for fun and on a whim is certainly part of the process. So when I went to Ireland for ten days with my friends last month, I did a little advance research and found some bookshops in my path. The Gutter Bookshop in Dublin is a delightful, airy place, and while I was perusing the children's and YA section there I came across a staff recommendation slip for Diana Wynne Jones' Eight Days of Luke. I bought it immediately and read it the same evening. It added such fun to one of the last days of my trip!

David is a young man with a horrid family. His parents are dead, and most of the time he's at school, which is alright because he's rather good at cricket. It's the breaks from school, when he's shunted off somewhere away from his relations, Great Uncle Bernard and Great Aunt Dot (and Cousin Ronald and his whiny wife Astrid), that are a reminder of his orphan status. On this occasion, they haven't arranged anything at all and are very put out by that fact. David can't help thinking that it's bound to be the worst school vacation ever. But then an odd, charming young man named Luke appears, and interesting things start to happen. David is in for an adventure and a half!

The setting is a house in some undetermined part of England. David is sports-mad, grubby, hungry and, his older relatives think, ungrateful. The thing is that he IS grateful, but living with a passel of adults is quite a lot to put up with for a boy, especially as he's growing out of all of his clothes and would just like to be off with some other kids his age.
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