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Charmed Life (Chrestomanci, #1)
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Charmed Life (Chrestomanci #1)

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  20,811 Ratings  ·  710 Reviews
Cat doesn't mind living in the shadow of his sister, Gwendolen, the most promising young witch ever seen on Coven Street. But trouble starts brewing the moment the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Frustrated that the witches of the castle refuse to acknowledge her talents, Gwendolen conjures up a scheme that could throw whole worlds out of whack.
Paperback, 252 pages
Published 2000 by HarperCollins Children's Books (first published 1977)
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Angie I'd say the style gears more towards middle schoolers / teenagers. But the content would be okay for an advanced reader in my opinion.
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102nd out of 1,205 books — 1,987 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sibling rivalry can feel like life or death when you are a kid. I mean, probably. I have an older brother* but I think the roughest thing that ever went down between us was maybe at ages 4 and 6 when he kept all the toys at one end of the bathtub. We've never had a physical fight. I don't see one in the offing, since we're both pushing/well past 30, agree on everything (well, not politics, but the important stuff like the Star Wars prequels suck and Mario games are the best, plus he lets me borr ...more
Mark Lawrence
Mar 09, 2016 Mark Lawrence rated it really liked it
I've just finished reading this to my daughter Celyn (11, too disabled to read for herself).

It's a fun story of Cat and his witchy sister Gwendolin living in a world that's almost ours but where witches and wizards exist and are well-known.

Like an enormous wedge of literature it's one of those adventures that would be over really quite quickly and with very little fun if the man (or woman) at the top just sat down and told everyone what was going on. Dumbledore could probably have reduced the H
mark monday
Feb 27, 2013 mark monday rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is a winning intro to what looks to be an enjoyable children's fantasy series. the young Chant siblings exist in a world with magic, one of many such worlds - or, rather, dimensions. after a tragic accident that leaves them orphans, older sister and talented witch Gwendolen takes to learning magic the old-fashioned way, through some sort of hedge wizard, while so-passive-it-hurts younger brother Cat blithely assumes he is magic-free. soon they are taken to the castle of Chrestomanci, an enc ...more
Serena.. Sery-ously?
Questo libro è una chicca!
Azzardo a dire che secondo me l'ha letto anche la Rowling.. Per me Charmed Life è un po' il nonno di Harry Potter, sotto alcuni aspetti :3

Punto di forza sono sicuramente i personaggi: non credo di aver mai incontrato tra le mie letture a target giovani un personaggio cattivo e meschino come Gwendolyn.. Ragazzi, che tipaccia! Crudele, amorale, egoista, subdola e presuntuosa..
Ah sì, ha circa 12/13 anni :D

Il modo in cui poi Cat viene dipinto è davvero particolare: è lui i
DWJ Book Toast, #1

Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite fantasy authors, growing up and now, and I was saddened by the news of her death. I can't say I'm overcome with emotion - as personal as some of her work is to me, its not like I knew her after all - but I wish I could put into words how I feel about her no longer being out there, writing new adventures and laughing at all of us serious fans thinking so hard about her words when we should simply get on with the business of enjoying them.
Sheila Beaumont
I love this book! I've already reread it several times, and it seems to get better every time I revisit it. The same goes for the rest of the Chrestomanci series, and indeed for all the books by the late, great Diana Wynne Jones I've read. This book, published in 1977, was the beginning of the craze for kids' books about witches and wizards and schools of magic, and the Chrestomanci series obviously was a major influence on J.K. Rowling, who DWJ said had likely read them when she was young and, ...more
Jun 14, 2012 Alison rated it really liked it
Eric and Gwendolen Chant have been left orphans by a steamboat accident. Cat, as Eric is known, seems an ordinary, very nice little boy, but his sister Gwendolen is a powerful young witch.

Cat and Gwendolen are taken to live at Chrestomanci Castle with Chrestomanci, a man who controls all magic use, and his family. There, Gwendolen's arrogance and selfish nature becomes evident, and makes life extremely uncomfortable for Cat, until one morning he awakes to find that she has disappeared, and in he
This is the first of the Diana Wynne Jones books that I ever read, probably shortly after it was published in the late seventies. It's one of the few books that I still go back to, and find things to admire and enjoy to this day. It's not the book that's been longest in my collection, but it's the book that I've loved consistently over the last thirty r so years.

The book is from the pov of Cat, a small boy who has literally no idea of what is going on around him. The clues are all there, but he'
Arielle Walker
Aug 20, 2012 Arielle Walker rated it really liked it
It may seem odd that I can give 4 stars to a book that I the label under "favourites", but my reasoning is this: The book is not perfect, nor is it quite close. However, since the first time I read it over a decade ago, and in the many times since, it has never failed to pull me into its world and allow me a brief escape from the mundanity of everyday life. Books like this may not be technically the best I have ever read, but nonetheless remain among my all-time favourites
I've loved everything from DWJ that I've read. From Howl's Moving Castle to Castle in the Air to House of Many Ways to Charmed Life to The Lives of Christopher Chant, Diana Wynne Jones showed such wonderful imagination. I never quite know where her plots will head or how her quirky characters will fare, and I love every minute I spend in her worlds.
In one of my updates, I stated that Gwendolen was a brat. Let me amend that statement now by saying that she is a total bitch witch. (Sorry, not sorry, my language slipped.)
I'm not sure what to rate this book. I did enjoy it, but it is not my usual cup of tea. I would probably never have read it if a friend hadn't recommended it to me, and this is simply because I don't read many middle-grade books. So don't let the three star rating give you the wrong idea, because this is a great book, if not
Brick Orrock
Feb 12, 2014 Brick Orrock rated it it was ok
Well, I read book one of the Chrestomanci Chronicles: Charmed Life, written by Diana Wynne Jones. I was excited for this book as I’m excited to read the other books that she has on this list (Howl’s Moving Castle), and after reading this one I can say that I still am.
This book is written well and I found myself getting lost in the writing and the story. With that being said I didn’t really like it. I didn’t like the characters. They are whiny and cruel, mostly all of them. Except, the main char
Jul 10, 2008 Anastasia rated it it was amazing
Stories of learning magic have become commonplace these days: I've even heard Diana Wynne Jones dismissed unfairly as a ripoff of JK Rowling when Diana Wynne Jones came first. There's nothing commonplace about Charmed Life: this is a fantastic story about a boy, Cat, who lives with a very ambitious witch sister after their parents drown. He goes to live with an impressively powerful man, Chrestomanci, and becomes involved in a strange political war between those who want to use magic without reg ...more
Jan 16, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, ya
Diana Wynne Jones has a wonderfully whimsical ability to worldbuild (of which J.K. Rowling should be jealous). Books with magic in are slowly tending to become more technological (as our technology becomes more magical, perhaps, or maybe it's just because of games in which magic has to be "balanced"); there are clear rules for what can and can't be done. This author was writing before that trend, or ignored it, and her magic is like the magic of folktales. It works because it ought to work, beca ...more
Apr 14, 2016 Janouk rated it really liked it
This is my second bookreview, hihi ^-^

Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite writers, and yet I have read only two books that are written by her. I think her style of writing is very good with many fantasy-aspects in it. The books are very easy and enjoyable to read.

Before I read this book, I had read the reviews about it. That was a pitty, because so I already know what would happen in the story. Nothing more happened from what I had read on the internet and... That is why I call the plot good
Kristin Boldon
Jun 04, 2015 Kristin Boldon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, re-read, read-aloud, 2015
Tried to get my 9 and 11 yo boys to read it. They wouldn't, so I read it aloud. They were jumping and cheering by the end. We LOVE this book and the younger couldn't wait to start the next one in the Chrestomanci series. If you love Harry Potter, check out Diana Wynne Jones and see one of Rowling's main influences.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 15, 2012 Joan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fantasy lovers
This was lots of fun. I've read others in the Chrstomanci series but never in order and I know I've missed several, including this one. You could see how it was going to turn out if you've read others in the series but it was still loads of fun getting there. Cat is a fantastic character, and the secondary characters were all well developed too. Fiddle was a particularly original character. Janet was a most likable person as well, especially considering she was a sort of relation of the one trul ...more
Oct 28, 2014 Ed-kay rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't get this book at all. Winner of awards, recommended profusely online and described as "subtle, funny and smart" by no less than Neil Gaiman... I found it tiresome, bland and rather vacuous. There are nice touches - Gwendolyn making the stained glass windows come to life, for one - but everything feels rather sketchy and unplanned. Things happen for no reason to partly drawn characters without any sense of narrative drive. It's wishy washy.

I should add I bought this for my nephew and tho
Oct 02, 2014 Steph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delightful read full of magic, mischief and adventure!
Apr 15, 2016 Deidre rated it really liked it
I'll start this review by saying I've been a fan of Jones for a LONG, LONG time. First book I remember picking up of hers was in the library when I was about eight years old, and it was a well-loved copy of Witch Week. Since then, I've read the Chrestomanci series many times over, and every time I come back to them, I'm reminded why I love Jones as a British author, even as an adult.

This book introduces the world of Chrestomanci pretty well, without being confusing or overbearing. Jones gradual
"Buku yang mengilhami JK Rowling untuk menulis Harry Potter"

Tagline ini selalu digunakan saat merajuk ke seri ini. Dan ternyata memang bukan sembarang tagline, JK benar-benar terinspirasi dari buku karangan Ibu Diana. Banyak kemiripan yang ditemukan si Chrestomanci Series ini dengan Harry Potter Series. Bikin gw kalo pas nemu item-item yang mirip harpot series langsung berteriak "ah..ini khanmirip dengan yang ini, paham sekarang saya"

Kisah di buku pertama ini dimulai dengan dimana Gwendolen &
An Odd1
Aug 29, 2013 An Odd1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fan
Orphaned by steamer disaster, Eric Chant clings onto elder sister Gwendolen 12ish, a lovely popular blonde witch who intends to rule the world. Chrestomanci, "tall and extraordinarily well-dressed .. Dark Stranger" p28 answers her letter asking for help, and invites them to live in the Castle.

"Cat, thoroughly exasperated 'You're far too important to stay here.'
'What makes you think I'm important?' asked Chrestomanci, still bewildered.
Cat was beginning to want to shake him. 'You must be. You'r
Jessica  (My Not So Vacant Shelf)
I had to read this book for a children’s literature class that I am taking for University. Although I’m glad that I read it and I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a children’s novel...although I guess it still is.

This is a charming other dimensional novel about growth and going from innocence to understanding. This novel has influence for Harry Potter written all over it. There is ‘He who must not be named’, an orphaned child, and so many other little things that make you see where J.K. Rowling got
El Templo
"Bienvenidos a los mundos de Chrestomanci... donde la magia da muchos problemas. Así es como presentaba la editorial SM en 2002 una nueva serie de libros, en un formato de tapa semi rígida, como su nueva y flamante colección, El Navegante. Pero, al igual que ésta, Los mundos de Chrestomanci acabó por descatalogarse, quizá debido a una mala promoción, o tal vez a sus cubiertas, poco atractivas si las comparamos con casi cualquiera de sus muchas ediciones anglosajonas. Por algún misterio de la pro ...more
Melissa McShane
Jones's ninth novel is probably one of her best known, and is the first of several books set in the world of the nine-lived enchanter Chrestomanci. Eric (Cat) Chant's sister Gwendolen is a witch, and a promising one, while Cat is just ordinary. Gwendolen's abilities bring her to the attention of Chrestomanci, and the two go to live at Chrestomanci Castle so that Gwendolen can study magic. Cat loves his sister despite her nasty personality and occasional cruelty toward him, but even he has troubl ...more
Mateus Rocha
Aug 08, 2009 Mateus Rocha rated it did not like it
What to say about this book. Definitely, I don't know if I'm going to read the book #2. I had more spectations about it.

The only thing I really liked in it was the little toy soldiers, moving and battling each other through witchcraft. It was funny to imagine they fighting and making strategies, just like Toy Story...

About the bad things in the book, I can list a few:

The spells. So childlish. I mean, transformations (of people into frogs, worms), changes of substances (coffe into mud)... In my o
Nov 23, 2012 ringoallavaniglia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Commento a caldo con antefatto.. e triste finale :(

Questo libro è rimasto, ignorato ingiustamente, sulla mia libreria per qualcosa come 15 anni.
Era il periodo in cui rileggevo "Le streghe" di Roald Dahl praticamente ogni settimana, e un giorno mia madre si presentò con "Vita stregata" dicendomi che magari mi sarebbe piaciuto anche quello. Io da bambina cocciuta quale ero, offesissima all'idea di sostituire il mio libro preferito, lo misi da parte e non lo guardai nemmeno; dalla copertina mi semb
Jan 09, 2011 Roxanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is the first book in the Chrestomanci series, though not the first book in the series I have read. Luckily for me, they are mostly stand-alone books so that didn't really matter. Except I sort of understood the concept of the Chrestomanci, which made this book.. a little predictable. I'm sure that when the whole concept is new, everything is just genius, because the idea behind Chrestomanci (which I obviously won't be spoiling!) is intriguing and awesome. But being already familiar with the ...more
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  • Alphabet of Thorn
  • Which Witch?
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Diana Wynne Jones was the author of more than thirty critically acclaimed fantasy stories, including the Chrestomanci series and the novels Howl's Moving Castle and Dark Lord of Derkholm.

For Diana Wynne Jones's official autobiography, please see
More about Diana Wynne Jones...

Other Books in the Series

Chrestomanci (6 books)
  • The Lives of Christopher Chant (Chrestomanci, #2)
  • Witch Week (Chrestomanci, #3)
  • The Magicians of Caprona (Chrestomanci, #4)
  • Conrad's Fate (Chrestomanci, #5)
  • The Pinhoe Egg  (Chrestomanci, #6)

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“Chrestomanci smiled and swept out of the room like a very long procession of one person.” 38 likes
“Then watch out. I warn you!"

"That is very considerate of you," said Chrestomanci. "I like to be warned.”
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