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Monday, April 11, 2011

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume II - Diana Wynne Jones

Read for the Once Upon a Time V Reading Challenge.

In honor of the recently departed Diana Wynne Jones, one of my favorite fantasy YA authors, I simply had to include a book of hers in my Once Upon a Time Reading. In fact, I managed two, in this omnibus book from the Chrestomanci series.

The Magicians of Caprona is set in an alternate Italy that was never united, and where the Duchy of Caprona is under siege by its neighbors. Only the spells of the Montana and Petrocchi families, the two most powerful spell-casting families in town, keep them safe, but their magic is starting to wear off, since the words to the most powerful spell known, those of the Angel of Caprona, have been lost.

The two families are naturally great rivals, considering each other to be beneath contempt, and you can totally see where this story is going. No, it’s not the most original story in the world, but this retelling is wonderful fun. It’s the children of the two families that end learning to work together, and the scrapes of Tonino Montana and Angelica Petrocchi in particular, are wonderful.

Witch Week is in a more present day setting, except that there are witches about the land, and if they’re caught, they’re burned at the stake. The children at Larwood House, a rather unpleasant English boarding school, are mostly orphans of those witches, and are all terribly suspicious that someone among them might be a witch. A note of accusation in English class starts this adventure, where all of class 6B is under suspicion, and crazy spells begin to fly. I’ll never say I don’t enjoy a Diana Wynne Jones story, but Witch Week was definitely my least favorite of the two in this book. The Magicians of Caprona was just that much more rollicking fun.


Jenn said...

I'm still so sad that she's passed away. I really hope there's a huge stack of unpublished novels at her publishers.. :(

Megan said...

I'm at least thankful I still have stuff of hers I haven't read yet.