Review: Diana Wynne Jones – The Chronicles of Chrestomanci: Volume 2

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci: Volume 2
Diana Wynne Jones
After reading the first book in this pair, I realised that I hadn’t read either of them before. I was glad, as it would enable me to review the book from an adult’s perspective as well as a teen’s.
34290The first novel ‘The Magicians of Caprona’ is very similar in nature to Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or the film ‘West Side Story’, although of course it is set in a world with magic. The protagonist, Antonio Montana, is able to speak to cats but his magical skills seem lacking. The spells in his part of the world are fading – Caprona is under internal and external attack. Then, when things just seem to be sorting themselves out, Antonio Montana and Angelica Petrocchi are kidnapped.
Although this book is in the same world as Chrestomanci, those hoping for a sequel to Volume 1 in these Chronicles will be disappointed. These books are chronicles, not sequels. That being said ‘The Magicians of Caprona’ was an enjoyable read, and I’d recommend it for ages 10 and up. Not a speck of bad language, and only a small fear element. You’ll probably never look at Punch an’ Judy the same way again though!

The second novel ‘Witch Week’ is still light hearted in tone, but deals with heavier issues, such as bullying and individualism. The four main characters who happen to be witches cause mayhem in school. This is in a world which burns witches where the worlds have no split correctly. It is a problem that only the Chrestomanci can solve, but he needs a lot of help as he’s out of his home world. Again, the Chrestomanci element comes in only at the end of the narrative to save the day.

It is the vivid characterisation that makes this book, rather than extensive descriptions of Larwood house. I would probably recommend this book for ages 12 and up due to the somewhat contentious themes.

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Review: Diana Wynne Jones – The Chronicles of Chrestomanci: Volume 1

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci: Volume 1
Diana Wynne Jones
I read this book when I was much younger, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was introduced to the works of Diana Wynne Jones through ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ (which is now a film by Studio Ghibli) – I’ll get around to reviewing that when my new copy arrives.
34284This is a relatively new edition of the two novels ‘Charmed Life’ and ‘The Lives of Christopher Chant’. They concern the nine-lived enchanters called the Chrestomanci.
Within ‘Charmed Life’ Cat and Gwendolen are siblings orphaned in a tragic steamboat accident. Gwendolen is a powerful witch, foretold to rule the world. What she doesn’t seem to realise is that there are multiple worlds in the series. The Chrestomanci adopts her and Cat, and brings them to his wonderful castle – where magic is forbidden to beginners like Gwendolen. Thus begins the battle of wills for the lives of Eric Chant…
‘The Lives of Christopher Chant’ comes chronologically before ‘Charmed Life’, but Jones suggests the reading order for being the second book in the series. Christopher is a relatively ordinary boy, who just happens to be able to travel between worlds in his dreams. He has nine lives, but no desire to live in Chrestomanci’s castle – he would rather play cricket.
These two books are an enjoyable, honest read. The worlds are described in beautiful detail that manages not to be too overwhelming for the younger reader. Although some aspects are unsuitable for younger readers (such as the guns and mermaid deaths), they are dealt with delicately. Parents of children ages 10 and up can feel confident that their child will be introduced to concepts such as loyalty and honesty in a fantastical, sympathetic, enjoyable environment.

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