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The Chrestomanci books

I can't say too much about the theme of the Chrestomanci books without spoiling some small surprises that appear in some of them, such as Charmed Life, the first Diana Wynne Jones book I ever read. Since those were the kinds of things that got me hooked to begin with, I won't spoil them for anyone else.

Suffice to say that the Chrestomanci books are a non-linear series, all of which contain the magician Chrestomanci, most of which take place in some kind of England, and some of which have a certain overlap of favorite characters. Also, they're mostly very good books. Check in Ms. Jones' short story collections; most contain at least one Chrestomanci story.

Denise DeGraf suggested a page connecting all the different Chrestomanci characters. Warning: this page contains spoilers for the books, so don't read it unless you've read them.

  • Charmed Life
  • Witch Week
  • The Magicians of Caprona
  • The Lives of Christopher Chant
  • The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Books I & II
  • Conrad's Fate
  • The Pinhoe Egg
  • Chrestomanci Stories Elsewhere

  • Charmed Life
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    US Paperback by Pocket Books 1980, ISBN 0-671-83281-6 UK Paperback Great Britain Hardcover 1977 by Macmillan London Ltd. Ionicus, ISBN 0 333 21426 9
    [US 1980 Thumbnail] [German Thumbnail] [US 1989 Thumbnail]
    UK Paperback, Published by Puffin Books, year not listed, ISBN 0 14 03.1075 4, Cover by Graham Humphreys. German Hardcover. Wir sind aufs Hexen ganz versessen // We're absolutely mad after witching. Cecilie Dressler Verlag (1981), Translation: Ingrid Weixelbaumer, Coverart and Illustrations: Rolf Rettich US Paperback, Knopf Fiction, Bullseye Books, 1989. ISBN ISBN 0-394-82032-0. Cover art bu Greg Winters.

    First published 1977.

    The first Diana Wynne Jones book I ever read. Poor Cat keeps getting himself in the most horrendous scrapes. Good for him his loving sister Gwendolyn is there to protect him!

    • Carnegie Medal Commended, 1977
    • Guardian Children's Fiction Award, 1978
    • Preis der Leseratten (ZDF Schülerexpress, Germany)

    Witch Week
    [US Paperback Cover Thumbnail] [US Hardcover Cover Thumbnail] [UK HD Thumbnail] [US Paperback Thumbnail]
    US Paperback, Beech Tree Books 1997, ISBN 0-688-15545-6. Cover by Greg Newhold. UK Paperback, published 1982. 1984 by Methuen Children's Books Ltd. Dave Eastbury. US paperback, Knopf Fiction 1998, Bullseye Book series, ISBN 0-394-80600-X. Cover art by Pamela Patrick.

    School was never this bad, was it? Though the food was probably worse.

    shameless plug

    Read Deborah's thesis on Diana Wynne Jones and the power of language which has an extended section on this book.

    The Magicians of Caprona
    [US paperback Thumbnail] [German Thumbnail]
    US paperback, Beach Tree Books 1999, ISBN 0-688-16613-X. Cover art by Greg Newhold. German edition, pub. Cecilie Dressler Verlag, translated by Ingrid Weixelbaumer.

    First published 1980.

    Imagine Romeo and Juliet. Now imagine it crossed with A Comedy of Erros. Now imagine the Montagues and the Capulets blessed with magical powers of a flavor that would shame Puck himself. Now imagine it written by one of the greatest living children's authors, who of course doesn't make the story from the point of view of someone so boring as the lovers.

    The Lives of Christopher Chant
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    US Paperback, Beech Tree Books. Cover art by Greg Newhold.

    First published 1988.

    All Christopher wants to do is be the best cricket player he can be. If only he could keep playing cricket, and didn't have to worry about the demands of his parents, his uncle, and the sand and wet of the Place Between.


    Carnegie Medal Commended, 1988.

    The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Books I & II
    US Paperback Thumbnail US Paperback Thumbnail
    US pocket-sized paperback, HarperCollins 2001, ISBN 006447268X. Cover art by Dan Craig. Contains Charmed Life and The Lives of Chrisopher Chant. US pocket-sized paperback, HarperCollins 2001, ISBN 0064472698. Cover art by Dan Craig. Contains The Magicians of Caprona and Witch Week.

    These are a reprint of the first four Chrestomanci novels, paired up into two "pocket-sized" paperbacks. There's no new material, but it's a good way to get the lot of them if you haven't been able to buy any of them.

    Conrad's Fate
    [US cover] [UK cover]
    US Hardcover, Publisher: Greenwillow; 1st edition (April 1, 2005), Language: English, ISBN: 0060747439 UK Hardcover, Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, Language: English, ISBN: 0007190859

    Publisher's Synopsis: Someone at the mysterious Stallery Mansion is pulling the possibilities. At first only small details change -- the color of the mailboxes, the titles of books -- but the changes keep getting bigger and bigger. It's up to Conrad Tesdinic, a twelve-year-old with truly terrible karma, to find the person behind it all. Armed with his camera and a sticky cork that can summon an eerie being called a Walker, Conrad infiltrates the staff at Stallery. And he's not the only one snooping around the mansion. His fellow servant-in-training -- charming, confident Christopher Chant -- is searching for his friend Millie, who's lost in one of the possibilities. Christopher always seems to have a trick up his sleeve. To find the person behind all the mischief and to rescue Millie, the two boys have to work together. Can they keep Conrad's fate from catching up to them?

    DWJ on the origins of the story.


    Misrule reviews

    The Pinhoe Egg

    Forthcoming 2006.

    Chrestomanci Stories Elsewhere

    There are also Chrestomanci stories in collections, such as Carol O'Neir's Hundredth Dream, Warlock at the Wheel, and The Sage of Theare. Mixed Magics is a collection of Chrestomanci short stories.