I just finished reading Diana Wynne Jones’s Archer’s Goon. Over all it was a pleasant read, and the story was well told, though there is one spot in the middle that comes across as a little heavy-handed (one of those instances in which the author seems to have gone to such lengths to ensure that an unexpected twist comes as a surprise that it doesn’t quite seem to fit in the story as a whole). The one thing that stayed with me, however, was not so much the plot as the concept of the Everything-But drawer. That is one of those concepts that describe an everyday reality that is so plain and ever-present that when you come across it for the first time you find yourself wondering how come you’d never heard of it before. The everything-but drawer –of which I suspect there is at least one example in each and every house as a matter of law– is that drawer in which you can find everything… except whatever it is that you are actually looking for.
Now, I realize that the everything-but drawer may seem like an inconsequential detail, and in a way it is, but it is one of those details that serve to ensure that the book will stay with you. Other than that the story was funny, the characters were engaging, and even though there were some background questions that were never fully addressed, this wasn’t glaring enough to become a major issue. This is one of those children’s fantasy books that can most definitely be enjoyed by adults as well (at least as long as those adults understand what it is that they are getting into. Honestly, I have met a few of those who, when reading a children’s fantasy book, complain that it is not as sophisticated as a philosophical treatise).
Anyway, if you enjoy children’s fantasy this book is definitely worth it… and if you are wondering just how does the author define a Goon, she does so in the following terms:
A Goon is a character that melts into the foreground and sticks there.
For a long time this book was out of print, but now it is available as an eBook so, if you haven’t read it yet, now is your chance!