When Aunt Sempronia declares that Charmain must look after Great-Uncle William's house, she imagines she will read undisturbed away from her nagging parents. Charmain doesn't know how to cook or clean or do magic because it isn't respectable. Charmain arrives at the small seeming house just as Uncle William is wisked away by the elves with no introduction to the house or her responsibilities. Conveniently, William has made preparations to assist Charmain, if she just asks the right questions.
The fire demon and the dog were entertaining, but most of the characters lack depth and authenticity. We are told on p 3 that Mr. Baker never lets Charmain do anything "that was not utterly respectable", but his behavior at the end and handing over of the yellow folder belies this statement. Peter's parent declares her deep concern for his welfare, but blindly sends him away not certain of his reception at his destination.
I think there were inside jokes for readers of Howl's Moving Castle with naughty Twinkle and fire demon Calcifer. House of Many Ways is a better read than last year's nomination of The Game by Jones, but still not a TU contender. NAY