Thursday, May 7, 2015

Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones.

Title- Charmed Life (Chrestomanci #1)
Author- Diana Wynn Jones.
Publish date- 2000.
Publisher- Harper Collins Children's Books.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
More Diana Wynn Jones! And a character who’s a little like Howl! End synopsis.

What I thought:
I have a long standing affinity with Diana Wynn Jones’ Howls Moving Castle. About as long standing as this thing I have going where you can’t really tell when I’ll start talking about the book I’m actually reviewing. Diana Wynn Jones is one of those authors I love so dearly I want to read all of their work, and this was the person who created Howl (and Cal and Sophie, yes, but I have a priority here), and I was sold.

And was this anything like the aforementioned novel? It was Jones, for sure, but her work, while having a similar thread throughout, or a distinctiveness that leads you to saying “Jones, that’s Jones,” when you read a variety of her work, does not write the same characters, and she does not write the same worlds. (The exception being Chrestomanci, who is actually rather like Howl in his flamboyance, though I assure you that this is a Good Thing, and the two are more like cousins who share style than brothers or uncles.)

Something that I love about this series is how we don’t have to like the characters to be involved with their story. Christopher “Cat” Chant is the protagonist of this story and he is a very weak character; I couldn’t condone or believe how he let Gwendoline do all the awful tricks she set upon, how he didn’t speak up about trouble and had an invisible backbone, but I still cared about his story, and it unfolded not only in surprising and often masterful ways, but with clear brilliance. I did not foresee the twists nor the turns, and that is Wynn Jones for me. Brilliant stories that always take me by surprise.

And because it’s important, I’ll take a moment to go over the worlds she creates- they are fascinating. I love the way, both here and in HMC, she combines our world and others, so believable and enchanting it’s as if you’re in a particularly surreal dream. And her magic. Oh. Oh.

Rating: A lowened (totally a word I SAY SO) version of Ooh, very good. It just wasn't quite there.
This was an enjoyable, magical, mystery of a book, and I enjoyed it throughly. I’ll forever rate all Diana Wynn Jones’ books against that which I love the most, and this doesn’t come very close to that mark, but… it was clever and enjoyable and is the start f an exciting series to come. I can feel it.


  1. I STILL HAVE NOT YET READ HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE BECAUSE I AM AFRAID. Very afraid. That movie OWNS MY HEART (or, more accurately, HOWL owns my heart). And I've heard the book is quite different, and I don't want to be disappointed. But then again I know that a lot of people who love the movie also love the book, so I am very torn. SIGH.

    Anyway, I have never read a book by this author, either XD I once rented a book of hers from the library, but it was returned unread (as so many are - eep). But it sounds like she creates really fantastic fantasy stories. And if there's a Howl-like character in this book, that definitely endears it to me!

    Also, side note: BLESS your bigger font use, Romi. I am thankful - being horrendously poor sighted XD

    1. I *would* scream HOW endlessly, because it’s a gorgeous masterpiece and one of my all time favourites, but I understand. I watched the film first and adored it, and it’s just… it’s so special, right? Magical and fantastical and something really different. And the book is like that, but in a different way. I like to think of all the creations that come from that story- the film, the book, the manga- as all being different, because they are. They tell different stories that feature the same cast. I think it’s pretty fantastic.

      I’M SORRY! I changed the font back before even reading your comment, because when I schedule it puts it bigger and it never keeps the same typography style, so I switch it back. I will investigate ways of having it larger and still the same style, though, because large font IS nice. I totally agree. That’s my one pain with the Throne of Glass books. The font is SO SMALL. Xx

  2. Ooh I love Howl's Moving Castle - so much so that I haven't been able to read another Wynn Jones novel actually! Although there are a few that sound really good but I'm just afraid it won't live up to my love for Howl, which is something it seems you can relate to! I do want to read Castle in the Air sometime though and see what it's like. I'm sure I can let go a little of my preciousness for Howl. :D And just to comment on the comment posted above - I enjoyed the film, but I LOVED the book! I did read the book first though so that probably had something to do with it.

    1. Oh no, really? I don't know that I've liked another of her books as much as Howls, but I still really enjoy the feel of them. And I recommend the rest of the Moving Castle series, Charlene! I like the first book most, and Howl isn't the protagonist of the other two, but they're really wonderful, and he makes rather spectacular cameos. I hope you adore them, if you get to them! xx

  3. I remember reading the Charmed Life as a kid and I completely agree about Jones' ability to write flawed and prickly characters but still keep you invested in everything! I still have a soft spot for the drama and magic of the Chrestomanci series.

    1. I have to say I do prefer being able to love a character, though- it's actually interesting, because I feel such a strong connection with the characters in the Moving Castle series, and yet they are rather prickly themselves! Maybe that series just suites me better, overall.
      I'm excited to get into the series more, though... am pretty confused as to what order the books are supposed to go in!


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