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Charmed Life: The Worlds of Chrestomanci    by Diana Wynne Jones order for
Charmed Life
by Diana Wynne Jones
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2000 (1977)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Cat Chant admires his older sister Gwendolen. He has clung to her since the sinking of a paddle steamer in which their parents drowned. Clinging to Gwendolen was a smart move on his part as witches cannot drown. Of course it's not always easy having a talented witch for a sister, when you don't have any magic yourself. There was the time she changed his violin into the cat Fiddle and it bit him - she didn't like the sounds it made.

When the mysterious Chrestomanci takes them to live in his Castle, Gwendolen's head swells even more. Cat loves his tower room but finds the Castle very silent, as if it were blanketed in snow. Gwendolen is furious when she find out that magic has been forbidden to her ... there seems to be a great deal forbidden at the Castle.

Gwendolen resents her situation and indulges in an escalating series of magic tantrums that still do not get her the attention she feels that her talent deserves. Then she uses the forbidden dragon's blood, Janet appears on the scene and Cat's problems multiply.

Charmed Life is a marvellous tale of magic, misunderstanding and mystery. Diana Wynne Jones keeps piling on the surprises, what a wonderful imagination! I won't make the usual comparison to Harry Potter, this series stands powerfully on its own in the Worlds of Chrestomanci.

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