Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

I'm a Jones fan from well before the Harry Potter crazes, and this book, while not one of her absolute best, will not disappoint.

The adventure begins when Aidan's grandmother dies and he arrives on Dr. Andrew Hope's doorstep. Aidan is hoping to find Andrew's grandfather, whom his own grandmother had urged him to find should anything ever happen to her. Andrew has only recently inherited the place from his grandfather, and though he has long been part of a magical family, he seems to have forgotten much of the magic his grandfather taught him as a child. Aidan, on the other hand, seems to be brimming with magic and is overjoyed when he is able to show Andrew the trick of looking at things without glasses in order to see their magical elements. Together, and along with a colorful cast of friends, household servants, and local villagers, they set about restoring the old estate to its former glory. This includes cleaning the "enchanted glass" in the shed/abandoned chapel, which until recently has housed an old an rather ill-tempered lawnmower.

Jones' books are often crowded with colorful characters, and this time the identities of those in the crowd are part of the mystery. "Counterparts" from the realm of "those who don't use iron" (read: fairies) begin to appear, and Andrew in his good-natured and slightly clueless way takes them all in, just as he took in Aidan. What appears to be a property dispute with a cranky Mr. Brown turns out to be a magical feud between Andrew's recently inherited magical realm and the realm of the fairies; Mr. Brown is none other than Oberon himself. And he is angry that Andrew is gathering the counterparts from the human and fairy realms together.

Jones is great at providing plausibly happy endings that are nonetheless realistic. In this, she is perhaps a master of juxtaposing the humor of the mundane (from dirty boots and gardening sheds to an unrepentant dog) with classic battles of good versus evil. Though Andrew appears tame, the moment at the Fete when he exercises his true powers resonates through the village and stops the narrative in its tracks. Though he's bumbling and mild-mannered, it's impressive when he comes into his true inheritance as the guardian of this apparently mundane but actually highly magical village. Aidan too comes into his own too, though with a twist. He may be the son of Oberon, and therefore a threat to the fairy king's throne, or, well, he may be something entirely different. Again, Jones juxtaposes classic fantasy themes with the mundane realities of illegitimate offspring in the real world. I won't spoil it, but let's just say Jones demonstrates that there's just as much mystery in finding one's true origins, whether they lead to the realm of faerie or to the exploits of a rebellious teenage mother.

Highly recommended to Jones fans and to anyone who like complexity in both characters and plot twists to track as well as cozy British mysteries. Jones does it all with aplomb.