The main character is little Hayley, a staple of young adult and fantasy fiction. She's the parent-less child sent to live with strict relatives. And she doesn't know what happened to her parents either. Her grandmother is a humorless and unpleasant woman obsessed with rules. Her grandfather can be OK, as long as his wife isn't around. But a lot of the time he's off visiting his other family.
The book starts off with Hayley shipped off to her aunts' house in disgrace. But she has no idea what she's done. Gee, do you think it might have been the time you entered the Mythosphere, that mysterious realm that you aren't allowed to know about? Duh. And what kind of a punishment is it to be sent off to a house full of cheerful happy cousins who love to play games?
They play hide and go seek, but their favorite game is The Game, you know, like the title of the book. It's where they go to the Mythosphere, that dreamlike land where characters from myths, fairy tales and astrology hang out. They have to bring back objects like Cinderella's glass slipper or the sword in the stone and the first one back with their prize wins. This is forbidden though, and when their mean uncle catches wind of it he's furious, and Hayley has to be brought to her other Aunt's house in Scotland to be hidden, where she was apparently supposed to have gone two days ago. Right, like the Mean Uncle is not going to look there.
After this they spend time in and out of the Mythosphere, meeting mythological characters and avoiding the mean uncle and being all quasi-mythological and stuff. The whole Mythosphere thing is murky, like I never really understood how they get there or what the point of the game was and when one of the cousins is in danger of being ripped apart by a mob of drunken slatterns I didn't care a bit.This book would have been a lot better if it was longer and had character development. But Diana Wynne Jones is a skillful enough storyteller that I still enjoyed this quick little tale.
The Game (Firebird)