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Themes in DWJ's Work:
- Bad Mothers
- The inspiration for this theme was explained quite simply by [DWJ herself]. [Phyllis Melford]? of The Time Of The Ghost, DWJ's most autobiographical book, is actually one of the gentlest portraits of a bad mother in DWJ's work; like Franconia Grant, she is shamefully neglectful, but not otherwise abusive. Ivy Whittacker is paranoid, jealous, and self-absorbed as well as neglectful. Sybil Temple ignores her dyslexic son in favor of her clever, beautiful daughter, while Miranda Chant and Janine Mallory narcissistically use their sons for their own purposes.
- There are, however, good mothers in DWJ's books, most notably Mig's mother Betty in Black Maria and Roddy's mother Annie? in The Merlin Conspiracy, as well as Mara in Dark Lord Of Derkholm and Catriona in Archer's Goon. Both Jamie and Helen miss their mothers in The Homeward Bounders.
- Secret identity
- Nearly every DWJ book has one or more characters with secret identities, which are sometimes unknown even to themselves. Commonly, a seemingly weak and vulnerable character turns out to have vast powers, or a seemingly unimportant character is revealed as vitally important --the rightful monarch, or a wizard or even some kind of deity.
- Crowd Scene Climaxes
- DWJ novels tend to end with a massive crowd scene in which every main character and many of the peripheral characters crowd into one room and start talking all at once.
- Imprisonment and Release
- Characters are almost always imprisoned or enslaved in DWJ books, and the resolution often entails either the release of an imprisoned power, or the defeat of a power which enslaves and controls, or both.
- Sacrificed Child
- Children are frequently exploited or sacrificed in DWJ books, and the sacrifice is often quite literal. Examples include Christopher and Cat Chant, Conrad and Anthea Tesdenic, Lady Felice and Count Robert, Maree and Nick Mallory, Grundo Temple, Seb Leroy, Thomas Lynn, Polly Whittacker, Mig and Naomi Laker, David Allard, Mordion, the Melford sisters, and Jamie Hamilton.