DWJ ReRead · Fantasy · Short Story

Enna Hittims by Diana Wynne Jones

ennahittimsAnne Smith has mumps, and while at first she had tried to be valiant about being stuck in bed all day all the time, she is getting sick of being sick. And so she starts to complain about her food and about being left home alone (with the neighbour occasionally looking in on her), and when she finally settles down, she notices how her feet under her bedcovers made it look like a valley.

With that, Anne starts making up a tiny girl warrior by the name of Enna Hittims, who goes on brave and violent adventures with her two friends/sidekicks. Absorbed in her own make-believe world, Anne draws the characters and expands Enna Hittims’ story until her magic markers run out of ink. It was then that she realises that Enna Hittims and her friends had somehow come to life.

Believing that Anne is a giant, the three small heroes go on a quest to kill her – which, of course, scares Anne, who realises that she needs to get rid of her own creations.

When I started reading this, I thought of Susan Coolidge’s What Katy Did and how in Valerie Grove’s biography of Kaye Webb, it was described as a life-changing book given to Kaye when sick. This Goodreads review wonders if the story could be inspired by DWJ’s own life, with characters that run away with the story (I’ve read interviews in which DWJ said it had happened) as well as childhood illness and the boredom that results from it leading writers to bursts of creativity, or life-changing books. I do think it’s interesting to think about – childhood illness did lead me to discover Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, and the long periods of boredom caused by spending my school holidays in Malacca got me reading a lot. Other than that, Enna Hittims is a funny story that makes for a rather entertaining read, even if it doesn’t quite impress me as much as DWJ’s other work.

Originally published as a short story in The Methuen Book of Humorous Stories, Enna Hittim is now available in the edition I read (by Barrington Stoke) as well as in the collection Unexpected Magic.

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