From the moment I picked up The Chronicles of Chrestomanci I found myself wondering where Diana Wynne Jones has been all my life. As a lover of young adult fantasy, I now realize there has been a huge gap in my reading, which I intend to remedy as soon as possible. “Charmed Life” and “The Lives of Christopher Chant,” the two stories included in Volume I of the chronicles, are delightfully engaging. Each story is linked, but features different protagonists. Both young men are thoroughly sympathetic characters and the reader quickly comes to love and support them. Jones has a witty, descriptive style that appeals to a wide audience. The dialogue is snappy, and the introspective moments each character has ring true.
Young teen readers will enjoy this series immensely. They are quick reads, despite the thickness of the books, which each include two complete novels. This would be a wonderful read-aloud for even younger readers as the protagonists themselves are very young boys. Diana Wynne Jones has created a fantasy world (in fact, worlds) that readers will want to travel to again and again.
Profanity/Language: 6 religious profanities; 5 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name. Note on language in the book: it is very “British” in nature. The three or four words that are used are far more acceptable in British culture for even young persons to hear and use.
Violence/Gore: A character is choked by magical curtains (no injuries); a character is hit by a spear twice (no blood/minor details); a character is badly burned twice (minor details); a character is knocked unconscious by a heavy object; a character is accidentally hit and knocked unconscious with a cricket bat and feels bones breaking; several characters are badly scratched by a cat. Note on violence in the book: most of the violence that takes place is usually magical and results in taking one life from a character who has several lives. There is little pain or blood involved, and the character heals magically and almost instantaneously.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death of family members, political intrigue.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
A character adds brandy to his coffee.