- Series: Chronicles of Chrestomanci
- Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Greenwillow Books (May 27, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0688155464
- ISBN-13: 978-0688155469
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.3 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 79 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,325,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Charmed Life Mass Market Paperback – May 27, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
Part of the series featuring debonair enchanter Chrestomanci, this comic fantasy follows two orphans, one of whom is a witch, when they are summoned to live in a castle full of necromancers. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"An outstandingly inventive and entertaining novel. Altogether a delightful book." -- -- Times Literary Supplement
"The concept is ingenious." -- -- The Horn Book
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She was also writing before "head-hopping" (switching between third-person viewpoints in the middle of a scene) became so denigrated, and a couple of times it's disorientating. Her style is the simple, declarative style of books for younger readers, but there's nothing wrong with that, though if I'd been her editor I would have said "show, don't tell" a couple of times and suggested more active phrasings for a few sentences. The writing, in other words, isn't flawless, but the story, the characters and especially the world make up for it.
The main viewpoint character is a boy known as Cat, for reasons that, when explained, turn out to be very important. He's afflicted with a sister named Gwendolen, who is as self-centred as a gyroscope and reacts badly to being thwarted, causing a cascade of trouble for poor Cat. By the middle of the book he's in not just one, but four or five bad situations, with no solution in sight, and all of them are Gwendolen's fault.
The secondary characters are delightful. The powerful Chrestomanci, in particular, with his beautiful clothes, is like a less self-centred Howl, but each one of them has some characteristic of appearance or mannerism that makes them distinct and memorable.
This is the first of a series of six books, and I'll be reading the others too, I think.
Eric "Cat" Chant believes himself to be useless in the field of magic, unlike his brilliantly gifted older sister. When the children are orphaned, they are taken in by the mysterious figure of Chrestomanci, and taken to live in his strange castle, where odd dangers seem to lurk around every corner, and Cat finds it increasingly more difficult to understand what's happening, especially when his sister disappears and is replaced by an exact duplicate!
Is the strange, lofty figure of Chrestomanci friend, or foe?
It's the the story of a pair of young orphans Cat and Gwen Chant who are sent to live with an old friend of their fathers after their parents death. They discover much about magic and themselves (at least Cat does) in this lively and well written book.
This is not the only book by this author set in this magical universe, but in some ways it's still my favourite after all these years. One more short story featuring Cat can be found in the author's book "mixed magics".
If you like the Harry Potter series, the Narnia series, or Lloyd Alexander, I think you'll like this series.