Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci Book 3

Summary: In the fair town of Caprona live two families of magicians - the Montanas and the Petrocchis. Much like Montagues and Capulets, these feuding families do all they can to try prove they are the better magicians. However, while these families are too busy fighting each other, they fail to notice that the city is falling under the clutches of an evil force. When the youngest member of the Montana family, Tonio, is kidnapped, he must learn that it takes more than just magic to get out of his predicament. Particularly since he only way out may be with the help of a Petrocchi!

Assessment: This book has it all - action, adventure, a hidden villain you don't suspect until the middle of the story, and even just a hint of romance. To be honest, this was my least favorite among the Chrestomanci books only because it takes a little while to get into it (it was also the first Chrestomanci book I read, so it took me a little while to understand who Chrestomanci was). However, once Tonio is taken prisoner, the action takes off and the story becomes exciting and engrossing. I really love the details Ms. Jones puts into these stories, and this story in particular - from the paper horses that dissolve in the rain to the spells that Tonio attempts that go awry. The author really creates a wonderfully magical world.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Lives of Christophe Chant by Diana Wynne Jones

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci #2

Summary: Christopher Chant has a pretty miserable childhood. His parents spend little time with him, and barely even with each other. His days pass drearily with dull governesses and orders from the servants, but at night, he is able to escape. In his sleep, Christopher is able to travel to other worlds, including one where he meets a girl who is believed to be the living incarnation of a goddess. This ability attracts his uncle Ralph who, with the help of a friend, requests that he brings back things from these other worlds. But when Christopher goes to develop his magic at Chrestomanci Castle, he soon realized that his kindly uncle may possibly be the mastermind in charge of a dangerous gang who had been behind thefts and even murder on these other worlds - and that Christopher may have unwittingly helped him all along. Soon, Christopher, with the help of the goddess, her cat, and a few other friends, must put a stop to uncle Ralph once and for all.

Assessment: This is one of my favorite stories of the Chrestomanci series. It is packed with loads of adventure, intrigue, and humor. I really can't say enough about how terrific Jones is. For the older set, you already know, but for those who have just started with Rowling, you will love her books - they have all you love in the Potter books.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Chronicles of Crestomanci by Dianna Wynne Jones

Volume 1: Charmed Life

Cat has always lived in the shadow of his older sister Gwendolyn and has never seemed to mind. She's much better at magic and always seems to be there when he needs help. Her magical talents have the both of them sent to Chrestomanci Castle to learn magic. But when denied learning more advanced magic, Gwendolyn causes such havoc that Cat must be the one to finally stop her.

Assessment: The cover of this book said, "Mad about Harry? Then try Dianna." Never before have these words been absolutely true. All I can add is that I wish I discovered Dianna years ago. Then by this time, as I write this, I would have read all her books. Her stories are fun, full of adventure, and make you feel as though you've stepped into the story itself. Even though these books have a numbered order, you can read any one out of order as each one is different; they are united by the fact that they have the Chrestomanci make an appearance in each. Because of this, I will treat each one as a separate story. In Charmed Life, you will have a great time watch Cat go from a shy young boy to one confident in his magic as he understands that the sister he once thought was protecting him was really just using him. And even though you'll really dislike Gwendolyn, you won't help but be amazed and a bit amused at her magical antics to get noticed in Chrestomancy Castle. Overall, you'll love this book!