Thursday, February 4, 2010

Witch Week By Diana Wynne Jones

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci Book 4.

A note starts all the trouble. The note reads, "Someone in this class is a witch." In any other classroom setting, the teach would have crumpled it up and continued with his lessons. But in this world, one very similar to our own, being accused of witchcraft is a very serious crime - one in which the accused can be burned at the stake. Not long after their teacher discovers the note, Charles Morgan and Nan Underwood, both unpopular students at the dreaded Larwood House, a dreary boarding school, realize that they can do magic. Little by little they test their newfound abilities with a secret glee - that is, until when they learn that the Inquisitors are coming to the school to find the accused witch! Only Chrstomanci can help save them from the terrible fate that happens to witches in their world.

Assessment: I liked this story even better than The Magicians of Caprona, to which this story was bundled in my book. One can easily sympathize with the plight of poor picked-on Charles and unpopular Nan. Who hasn't wished for magical abilities to play tricks on our tormentors (my dream in middle school!) without magical abilities? But along with that, there are hints that they aren't the only ones with magical abilities - there's also the Indian student Nirupam and Brian. Jones skillfully switches between the four students' point of view helping us learn more about the terrible school and world they live in - and how each one has been personally touched in some way or another by the draconian laws of the land. Furthermore, she sprinkles the story with good humor like brooms that demand to be ridden and mops and hoes that act more like stubborn mules when ridden. While Larwood House is the opposite of Harry Potter's beloved Hogwarts, this story puts every bit as much fun as any Potter story.

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