Title: Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol 2
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Series: Chrestomanci, 3-4
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Paperback: 560 pages
Source: Chicago Public Library
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
In this multiple parallel universes of the Twelve Related Worlds, only an enchanter with nine lives is powerful enough to control the rampant misuse of magic — and to hold the title Chrestomanci… There is a world in which the peaceful city-state of Caprona is threatened by the malevolent machinations of a mysterious enchanter…and another in which magic is outlawed and witches are still burned at the stake.
In two worlds the practice of magic has gone dangerously awry, there is only one solution — call upon the Chrestomanci.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
This volume holds two stories from the Chrestomanci series: The Magicians of Caprona and Witch Week. Each story focuses on a different alternate dimension, with the Chrestomanci serving as the ultimate go-to for all magic-related weirdness going on, so he serves as a unifying force throughout the stories.
The Magicians of Caprona
This is a loose retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story, but more focus on magic and war rather than romance. Two houses of famous magicians are feuding, because–well, reasons,–and they each think the other one is horrible. Because of that, Caprona is weakening and there is a war on the way that they probably can’t win. It looks especially dire when two young magicians (one from each family) go missing and each house thinks the other kidnapped the missing child.
I loved this so much. Jones just has such a way about her writing to make the stories particularly magical. Many of the twists were predictable, but the simple telling of the story was wonderful. The characters are brilliant and so vivid, they’re practically jumping off the page at you, walking around with you as you read. There were some characters that revealed unexpected depths in this story, and I enjoyed how everything was woven together. Magic, romance, action, adventure, mystery — this story has EVERYTHING you could possibly want. I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s my favorite Chrestomanci story so far.
In a dimension where magic is outlawed, there seems to be a whole lot of magic happening at a boarding school. A teacher gets an anonymous note from a student that hints that the person using magic might just be in their own class. Drama and suspense ensues.
I didn’t like this as much as Magicians of Caprona, but I still liked it quite a bit; it just took a lot more for me to get into this one. Much of the beginning just seemed to focus on some whiny teenagers, which I didn’t find particularly interesting. What hooked me in, though, was the idea of magic being outlawed in a dimension where there is clearly a lot of magic going around. The best parts in this book for me were when magic was used and how BRILLIANTLY it exploded out of people who so desperately tried to keep it in. The action picks up a great deal halfway through when Chrestomanci shows up, and I enjoyed the resolution a lot. These twists were less predictable than Magicians of Caprona, and I liked how it tied in nicely with a previous book in the series.
Overall, though, I greatly recommend the entire series. Diana Wynne Jones is a gem and writes such brilliant middle grade fantasy; it’s stuff that will keep you thinking about long after you’ve read it. She’s definitely an inspiration and one of my absolute favorite writers of the fantasy genre. Her Chrestomanci series is no exception.