The Chronicles of Chrestomanci is one of Diana Wynne Jones most well known series, and though it has sat on my shelf for years, I haven’t given it a good go before now. My volume is an omnibus compilation of the first two books in the children’s series, Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant.
Charmed Life stars Cat (which is somehow a nickname for Eric) Chant, a young boy who is convinced he has no magical talents at all. This is rather disappointing for Cat, because his sister Gwendolyn is quite a powerful and ambitious witch. Things become interesting when Cat and Gwendolyn go to live at the castle of a powerful enchanter, Chrestomanci.
The Lives of Christopher Chant takes place twenty five years before Charmed Life and follows Christopher, the boy who will one day become the Chrestomanci in Charmed Life.
Both books are quite delightful. This is not surprising. Jones has always had the ability to charm. Her books are witty, funny, and a little scatterbrained, but ultimately incredibly endearing. I really liked the characters in the book, they all felt well thought out. Though Cat very timid, I found myself immediately rooting for him. As for Christopher, he ranks up there with Howl. Diana Wynne Jones also does a good job of making adult Christopher and child Christopher seem like the same person. The lives of Christopher Chant also introduces some of my favorite characters, Tacroy and Throgmorten.
The magic system in the world of Chrestomanci can be a little confusing, but the parallel world concept adds for some amusing hijinks.
The book is not perfect, tending at times to be rather confusing and inconsistent, but it was so entertaining that I really didn’t mind. I probably am a little biased, though.
Overall, The Chronicles of Chrestomanci is a book that I would give to anybody who enjoyed the Harry Potter books. Both feature your classic wizardry type magic, and lots of humor. Anybody who is fond of Diana Wynne Jones should also check this series out.
Now I just need to pick up the next book!