I know. A recent classic of YA literature and I'm just now getting around to reading it. In my defense, I wasn't doing a ton of YA reading in 2004 an...moreI know. A recent classic of YA literature and I'm just now getting around to reading it. In my defense, I wasn't doing a ton of YA reading in 2004 and this probably didn't sound like my cup of tea at the time.
Fifteen year old Daisy has been sent from New York to live with her cousins, who she's never met, in England. And if you know anything about this book, you're probably doing a significant eyebrow waggle right now. To get it out of the way, yes, Daisy and her cousin Edmond fall in love. However, their relationship gets surprisingly little screen time; although they have a huge connection, they spend more time apart than together.
At first I had a hard time getting into this one. The tense is, I suspect deliberately, ambiguous, shifting from past to present and finally settling on a kind of immediately experienced past. I kept being jolted out of the story by this, at least until it settled into a more regular pattern. As I'm thinking about it now, this is probably partly explained by the epilogue, but still.
Similarly, Daisy's world-weary attitude grated on my nerves a bit. I don't know many fifteen-year-old socialites. (Okay, fine, I don't know any.) The point is, to a certain extent I had a hard time with her age and how much was put on and how much was older Daisy filtering.
But then at a certain point, the writing just clicked and instead of slightly annoying Daisy and her cousins, we had a claustrophobic view of England in the throes of war and its cost. I do think that the switch from the personal story to the war story was a big help, since Daisy started to grow up, and instead of Edmond & Daisy being lovey-dovey, we had Daisy and Edmond separated and not sure when they would see each other again.
Again, just at first I kept noticing how dated this part felt in a certain way. That is, the story seemed to come out of the period just after 9/11 and 7/7. I wonder how it will read in a few years--whether it will seem even more dated, or whether in a way it will have cycled around to being entirely relevant. There's certainly a sense of timelessness to most of it--Daisy's fears and uncertainties especially. In the end, I managed to get past all of my issues and got completely sucked into the story, unable to pay much attention to anything else around me.
So this was an odd read for me--a book which I actually almost put down at least twice, but which ended up being rewarding to the persevering reader. I'm not sure I recommend it to everyone, but for the right reader it should be a real treasure.
Book source: public library Book information: Wendy Lamb Books, 2004; YA(less)
I am totally in awe of Susanna Clarke. Seriously. First she created a system of magic which she stuck to consistently. Then she created an entire history and scholarship for that magic. Then she integrated the history, scholarship, and practice into real history. And her story was engaging and her characters well-drawn. All in flawless Regency language. For 782 pages. Wow. I am really, really in awe. And surprised that she was able to find a publisher.
English magic has died out, or so everyone thinks. Those who call themselves magicians are theoretical magicians only, scholars of magic, rather than practitioners. It is a shock for everyone then, when a gentleman named Gilbert Norrell demonstrates undoubtable magical ability. Eventually he takes a pupil named Jonathan Strange, whose approach is as different from Mr. Norrell’s as night from day. This book tells their story.
This book honestly reads like a biography rather than a work of fiction. There are copious footnotes, telling stories and referring to other works as if they actually existed. Clarke has the great gift of making you believe, just for a while, that there actually was such a history and story as the one she is telling.
Highly recommended for anyone who likes fantasy and Regency writing.(less)
The first new McKinley since Sunshine! Woo hoo! I was definitely excited to read this one because a) it was written by Robin McKinley and b) it’s abou...more The first new McKinley since Sunshine! Woo hoo! I was definitely excited to read this one because a) it was written by Robin McKinley and b) it’s about dragons. I am fond of dragons—fictional ones that is. So this book already had a lot going for it.
It didn’t disappoint. For one thing, I very much enjoyed Jake’s voice. It is not the one I’ve come to expect from Robin McKinley, but it was true to the character in a way that the voice of, say Spindle’s End wouldn’t have been. It was, in the end, Jake’s voice, and it kept me going through much of the novel.
The other characters were all well-developed and interesting. I especially liked Dr. Mendoza and Eleanor. And Katie and Martha. And all of them, really.
A tiny bit of plot description: Jake Mendoza who has grown up on the Smokehill National Park, dedicated to the preservation of dragons, goes on his first solo hike in the park. While there he finds a dead poacher, a dying dragon, and a dragonlet. He saves the dragonlet, which lands him in a whole heap of trouble.
This is definitely a book for older readers. There are a few content advisories as far as language and relationship stuff. The language is in character.
Cart and Cwidder starts off with Clennan the Singer and his family as they travel in their cart through the South Dales on their way to the North. The...moreCart and Cwidder starts off with Clennan the Singer and his family as they travel in their cart through the South Dales on their way to the North. The South Dales are under the rigid and heavy hands of their respective earls while the North is freer. The story focuses on Moril, Clennan’s younger son. As the story progresses he has to come to terms with what his parents didn’t tell him, as well as his own unexpected talents.
It’s a lovely story, nuanced and balanced. It’s a story about growing up and beginning to see your parents as people rather than Your Parents, with all the different things that implies. Moril is a likable and sympathetic character and if he’s a little slow to realize a few things, that’s all right. Diana Wynne Jones tends to get siblings right in her books and the interactions between Brid, Moril, and Dagner seemed spot on to me. (less)
Drowned Ammet is startling, especially if you didn’t know that the four books all focus on a different character. We’d just gotten used to Moril and B...moreDrowned Ammet is startling, especially if you didn’t know that the four books all focus on a different character. We’d just gotten used to Moril and Brid and Dagner and Kialan and all the rest of them, when suddenly we’re starting all over with this Mitt boy, who’s someone completely different. Different, but wonderful nonetheless. There’s something about Mitt I really love. I think it’s his ability to do all the wrong things for all the right reasons and the right things for the wrong reasons. He’s also one of those characters who’s incredibly frustrating because he will be an idiot–not in smartness, but in personality, if that makes sense–but is incredibly rewarding when he does get it.
Anyway. Mitt. Born and bred in Holand, one of the South Dales. When things start going wrong, he and his mother do their best to survive and to do the right thing as they see it. It’s an interesting story in the way it details a group rebelling against a tyrannical overlord–a device which has certainly been overused, especially in fantasy–but in an unconventional way.
The other two main characters are the grandson and granddaughter of the Earl of Holand. The way their path intersects with Mitt’s and how the three grow to a relationship with each other is a fascinating one, but I can’t say much about it because that’s what Jones does.
One of the moments I found fascinating comes at the end of the book and is a major spoiler, but I’ll just say that it made me think a lot about how we construct stories for ourselves and how one person’s version of events is going to be dramatically different from another person’s.
As a side-note: I’m reading these books in publication order rather than internal chronology. I feel fairly strongly personally that this is the better order to read them in. I don’t know if Jones herself has expressed an opinion.
Quote from Drowned Ammet: “Mitt did not quite forget his perfect land. He remembered it, though a little fuzzily, next time the wind dropped, but he did not set off to look for it again…When an inkling of it came to him in silence, or in scents, or, later, if the wind hummed a certain note, or a storm came shouting in from the sea and he caught the same perfect note in the midst of its noise, he thought of his lost perfect place and felt for a moment as if his heart would break.” p. 9(less)
The sequel to Sorcery and Cecelia, and just as delightful. Unfortunately, I can say almost nothing about it without giving away major spoilers for the...moreThe sequel to Sorcery and Cecelia, and just as delightful. Unfortunately, I can say almost nothing about it without giving away major spoilers for the first book.(less)
Every so often I start hankering for a favorite book. It's almost like craving a particular food. Only that flavor will do. Recently, that hankering t...moreEvery so often I start hankering for a favorite book. It's almost like craving a particular food. Only that flavor will do. Recently, that hankering turned towards The Perilous Gard, one of my favorite books for, oh, years. As a bonus, it's also historical fantasy and a Tam Lin retelling, two awesome subgenres.
Kate Sutton is a lady in waiting to Princess Elizabeth, along with her younger sister Alicia. Alicia is beautiful and fluffy-minded and, when she becomes outraged over the living conditions at Hatfield, sends a letter to Queen Mary. Because Alicia gets out of everything, Queen Mary blames Kate and sends her to live under the protection of Sir Geoffrey Heron at Elvenwood in Derbyshire. The house is also known, ominously, as The Perilous Gard.
Kate is essentially Alicia's opposite. She is plain, graceless, sharp-minded and sharp-tongued. It's strongly implied that Alicia gets her character from her mother's side of the family and Kate from her father's, especially her grandfather. She values common sense, honesty, and plain dealing. She's a bit like Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle, though she's not normally so insecure. She's in the category of characters I would like to have as a friend.
From the first glimpse of Elvenwood, Pope makes it clear that this is a strange and eerie land. One of the threads all my favorite Tam Lin retellings contain is a genuine sense of creepiness. There's something frightening about the story and here there's something frightening about the Elvenwood, about the castle and its inhabitants, and most especially, about the People of the Hill.
At the same time, Kate is forced, especially in the second half of the book, into a kind of unwilling sympathy for them. She understands them, while at the same time she fights against them with all her might to save Christopher. She's half-way to being one of them by the end of the book, not simply in the way that she moves or how she has physically changed, but also in the fact that she can understand the way that they think. This layer adds a depth and complexity to the story that keeps the People from simply being villains or Other.
I haven't said anything at all about Christopher yet, which is a pity. He's an exasperating, marvelous character. The romance here is based on mutual respect and neither party leaps into it at first sight. (Kate even says at one point, "How could I be in love with Christopher Heron? I've only talked to him twice in my life!") Given that I grew up on this book, The Blue Sword, Anne and Gilbert, and Betsy and Joe, perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that insta-attraction romances are anathema to me. Regardless, the end is incredibly swoon-worthy and I would quote the whole thing except that it's full of spoilers and also the point is that you have to read it in order.
It's also interesting to note that Kate's impulses from the beginning are to save Christopher. First she wants to save him from his loneliness and self-imposed penance. Then she wants to save him from his sacrifice. Then she wants to save him from the People. But she also exhibits the same impulse towards other characters--Cecily, Harry, even Randal.
Pope was part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which means that she knew her stuff. And it shows. The historical aspect of the novel is utterly convincing in the surplus of details which are woven naturally into the story. Kate thinks and acts as a Tudor girl, albeit a slightly unconventional one. At the same time, I think she's the strongest character in the whole book. Which just shows you that it's possible to write female characters in historical fiction without sacrificing either accuracy or strength. (I keep harping on this. It is a Thing with me.)
In the end, after all of my blathering on, this is simply an wonderful book. It's one of those that are heart-books, that have gone so deep I don't really need to re-read them. But why on earth wouldn't I?
A comfort re-read. I love this Tam Lin re-telling, which is convincingly set in Elizabethan England. Kate is such a wonderful heroine and Christopher was one of the first characters I swooned over. [Feb. 2010](less)
After this review I won't have anything else to say about Attolia* until March 23, which is when Conspiracy of Kings will be re...moreby Megan Whalen Turner
After this review I won't have anything else to say about Attolia* until March 23, which is when Conspiracy of Kings will be released. If you think I'm not counting down the days, you're insane. (Background here: my favorite series tend to be those which have already been fully published--not like I choose it that way, it just happens--so this giddy mixture of anticipation and impatience is new to me.) Sigh. I hope I've convinced one or two of you to pick them up. If I have, my work here is done.
What can I say about this book? Not much, plot-wise, since once again huge spoilers for the first two books would be involved. Alas. Let's just say that all of our favorite characters are back, plus a few more who prove their complete and utter awesomeness! Notably, Costis, a guard in the Queen's Guard, who does something rash and has to deal with the consequences.
By this time, assuming the reader is going through the series in order, we're in on the joke. We know that Gen has something up his sleeve, even if we don't know exactly what it is. And if you are an obsessive long time, ardent fan, there are some lines that will just make you squee. There are some others that make me cry. Every.single.time. (I cry easily over books and movies, but still.) And you know what? Every book in this series is better than the one before it. I don't know how MWT manages it. I seriously do not. (And the first ARC reports are coming in for CofK: this one is definitely happy. But SPOILERS for the rest of the series.) Also in this book, the return of Rosemary Sutcliff references and a moment where Gen quotes himself in Thief AND Howl in Howl's Moving Castle at the same time.
This book, incidentally, contains my favorite simile of all time: "The queen was settling on the edge of the bed, ungainly with hesitation and at the same time exquisite in her grace, like a heron landing in a treetop." (p. 208) It's just so incredibly appropriate and beautiful for that character and moment. And the fact that my second favorite simile of all time is also in this book should tell you something.
The emotional journey that Turner has taken these characters on is wonderful, unexpected and rewarding. She never settles for the easy answer. Gen has gotten what he wanted most in the whole world, but at a price. At a high price. Nonetheless, this is the book where he goes beyond being simply a thief, or even a patriotic thief, to being something--well, I'll just say that someone makes a claim about what he could become at the end of the book, and I agree.
One of the other subplots I love about the books is Gen's spiritual journey. When he starts off in Thief, he doesn't really believe in the gods of his country. By the end of that book he is forced into belief. In QoA, he does believe, but he still doubts and questions. For Turner to take him from the beginning of the Thief, when he thinks of the gods as old legends to the end of KoA, when he says "Whether I am on a rafter three stories up or on a staircase three steps up, I am in my god's hands," and for that journey to be believable, is quite remarkable.
A few favorite quotes (I had to leave out lots of good ones because of spoilers):
She knew he had both hated and loved those cousins who were now beyond both love and hate. p. 97
Expecting better of royal closets, Costis went to bed disappointed. p. 302
Costis was puzzling through the convolutions of human relationships, which were so unlike the neatly arranged patterns in a fireside story. p. 307
If we truly trust no one, we cannot survive. p. 331
* the technical term for this series is the Queen's Thief series, but I've never managed to get behind that one.
I decided to re-read KoA because I needed to see how to write a really long scene from multiple perspectives, something Turner does brilliantly. Then I forgot what I was reading for and just read. This book: so awesome. Every. Single. Time. This time through, I really noticed Sejanus and Dite and how their relationship plays out and is just beautiful and heartbreaking. Gaah, MWT is amazing. [April 2011](less)
I bought a copy of this at a recent library booksale, despite not having entirely positive memories of it. It had been a long time since I read it, an...moreI bought a copy of this at a recent library booksale, despite not having entirely positive memories of it. It had been a long time since I read it, and I loved StarCrossed. I liked this one much more than I had remembered, but Digger will always be my favorite. (Liar’s Moon! November!) [Sept. 2011](less)
Short stories by the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which I would have re-read if I thought I had time. Clarke continues her amazingly...moreShort stories by the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which I would have re-read if I thought I had time. Clarke continues her amazingly versatile writing style in this collection. I think you pretty much had to read Jonathan Strange for most of these to work at all. But if you read and enjoyed that, I think you would like collection. [Jan. 2009]
Short stories by the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which I’ve been meaning to re-read since I got my copy from Oregon. The short stories are from a variety of time periods, from Elizabethan to Regency. I often waffle on short story collections, but this one is pretty solid–helped, I think, by the unity of the concept and world. “On Lickerish Hill” is probably my favorite, though “The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse” is pretty close. [Mar. 2011](less)
Again with the absolutely astoundingly gorgeous covers. This one is for The Spellcoats really, which makes me a bit sad. I want this style for all fou...moreAgain with the absolutely astoundingly gorgeous covers. This one is for The Spellcoats really, which makes me a bit sad. I want this style for all four!
Anyway. If the jump between Cart and Cwidder and Drowned Ammet is disconcerting, the jump to The Spellcoats is even more so. Mitt and Moril might be only distantly aware of each other, but they are clearly in the same time. Tanaqui's story clearly is not. In fact, it's set in a sort of prehistoric Dalemark. Also, unlike the first two, it's in first person. Told from the point of view of Tanaqui, second daughter and second youngest child of Closti the Clam, it follows Closti's children on a voyage (literally) of discovery. I've said before that I think siblings are one of the things Diana Wynne Jones tends to get right and, in my opinion, she does it again here. The Spellcoats also introduces a very important character in the person of Kankredin, the villain.
I had forgotten just how confusing this sequence is. Nonetheless, I still maintain that reading the books in publication order rather than chronological order is the way to go. I think the confusion is part of it. (less)
The Crown of Dalemark really doesn't have a good cover, which is a pity.* This is the best I could do, and if I didn't know any better I would guess...moreThe Crown of Dalemark really doesn't have a good cover, which is a pity.* This is the best I could do, and if I didn't know any better I would guess it was supposed to be for Cart and Cwidder. Bah.
The Crown of Dalemark is where all the disparate threads start to finally come together. Mitt, Moril, a new character named Maewen, Navis, Ynen, Kialan--all of a sudden they reappear and their stories combine.** Maewen comes from Dalemark's future, which looks suspiciously like our present. I love the way Jones frames the story within the idea of "history" suddenly coming out of the picture frames and textbooks and becoming real. I also love the fact that all of these characters don't instantly get along. Even the ones we've (okay I've) liked right from the beginning. Some of the characters I'd grown to like in previous books suddenly aren't as likable.
One of the threads I noticed running thoughout all four books is the theme of great epic*** adventures undertaken by very normal people who don't seem to even notice anything being different. Well, that isn't entirely accurate. They do notice things being different, but it's always too late. Even Navis, who is an Earl's son and quite impenetrable all through Drowned Ammet suddenly becomes human and rather nice in the last book.
Anyway, I'm quite satisfied, having finished the series and been pleased by the ending.
* I know all this discussion of covers might get boring/annoying. Sorry. When I love a book, I want it to have a good cover and all too many of them don't.
** Several characters from The Spellcoats reappear as well, but I can't tell you how or I'd spoil several bits.
*** And I mean it in its original sense, before it turned into a bit of annoying slang. (less)
So, not generally a fan of Meg Cabot, but this one sounded more along my lines than her usual type. I liked it. In a guilty sort of way. I don’t know...moreSo, not generally a fan of Meg Cabot, but this one sounded more along my lines than her usual type. I liked it. In a guilty sort of way. I don’t know why the guilty part, because it was well done and she obviously knows what she’s talking about. And she quotes P.G. Wodehouse. (June 2008)(less)
Opening: "He was lost when he came to us, and I fear the silver spoons he stole from us didn't save him when he ran away and went up into the high dom...moreOpening: "He was lost when he came to us, and I fear the silver spoons he stole from us didn't save him when he ran away and went up into the high domains."
This is a lovely book, full of evocative images and tantalizing ideas. I often feel like LeGuin writes about her characters at a remove, not as involved with them as other authors tend to be. In fact, one of the things I remember most vividly about reading the Earthsea books for the first time is wondering how she could manage to write so dispassionately and yet remain completely compelling. In Gifts, that characteristic is diminished; I felt much more involved with Orrec and Gry. Still, in moments where another author might choose to highlight emotions, LeGuin tends to dampen them, without any loss of power.
One of my big Things reading-wise is setting: whether the place feels real and alive. In a certain sense, I want the land to be as much a character in the story as the people. The Uplands are certainly that. I felt a bit of an echo with the Scottish Highlands, in the dichotomy between the mountains and the lowlands. The fact that the men wear kilts certainly didn't hurt. And there was also a sense, very like that I have of an entirely fictional Scotland, of a sort of wild sweetness in the land and the Uplanders themselves.
This is actually the second time I've read Gifts. The first time I remember being impressed by the reveal. This time I was less so, not because I remembered exactly what happened (I didn't) but because it seemed more obvious earlier. I know there are two more books in the series, but I don't know if they're about Orrec or not. If they are, I'll be interested to see if the ending here is the ending of the series as well, or whether it's changed again.
As a side note, I love the cover, which reminds me a little of The Sunbird. It's the same colors, I suppose, and Orrec looks just a tad like Telemakos, though they're quite different characters in most ways. Anyway, it's a lovely thing, though I bet it's been changed to fit in with this awful trend of photographs with models that we're in at the moment.*
There were a lot of ideas I found really intriguing, mostly to do with the gifts. The gift's gift, the way the gifts could go either forward or backward. The whole thing felt thought-out, but not in an overly analytical way.
Finally, a quote from early in the book:
And even when it's over, even when it's somebody else's life, somebody who lived a hundred years ago, whose story I've heard told time and again, while I'm hearing it I hope and fear as if I didn't know how it would end; and so I live the story and it lives in me. That's as good a way as I know to outwit death. Stories are what death thinks he puts an end to. He can't understand that they end in him, but they don't end with him.
Book source: public library Book information: Harcourt, 2004; YA
* I think I may rant about this soon. Be warned.(less)
Those of you who have read this blog for any length of time should recognize this title. I only read it an average of once ever...moreby Megan Whalen Turner
Those of you who have read this blog for any length of time should recognize this title. I only read it an average of once every two months. But I have never actually reviewed it. I thought this should change since me going, "Read it! Read it!" is not a basis for you actually reading it, except to make me be quiet and go away. It's one of my minor quests in life to make everyone I know read this series, hence the review. However, it is very difficult for me to talk coherently about this book and I'm working with the additional problem of huge, massive spoilers which it would be very easy to give away. I will try to both talk coherently and avoid ruining the surprise.
The Thief begins thus:
I didn't know how long I had been in the king's prison. The days were all the same, except that as each one passed, I was dirtier than before. Every morning the light in the cell changed from the wavering orange of the lamp in the sconce outside my door to the dim but even glow of the sun falling into the prison's central courtyard. In the evening, as the sunlight faded, I reassured myself that I was one day closer to getting out. To pass time, I concentrated on pleasant memories, laying them out in order and examining them carefully. I reviewed over and over the plans that had seemed so straightforward before I arrived in jail, and I swore to myself and every god I knew that if I got out alive, I would never never never take any risks that were so abysmally stupid again.
I had to stop there because if I didn't I would just type up the whole book and then I would be breaking copyright law and probably get sent to jail.
So the I in that passage is Gen, a thief who stole the king of Sounis's seal ring...and then boasted about it and got arrested. He's been languishing in the king's prison ever since. But things are about to change. The magus, the king's most powerful adviser, offers Gen a chance at temporary freedom if he will steal something for him (the magus, that is). This is exactly what Gen's been waiting for. And with that the story begins.
Gen is one of those characters that just leaps off the page. He's a little bit like Howl, a little bit like Peter Wimsey, but in the end he's no one but himself. The story moves between the countries of Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia which make up that region of Gen's world. As Turner explains, "I knew that I wanted to write a story and that I wanted the Greek landscape to be the inspiration for it....The setting for the story was inspired by Greece, but it isn't Greece and this isn't a Bronze Age culture that Gen lives in...There's no specific date in our world that correlates to development of Gen's world, but it is certainly more like the Byzantine period than classical Greece." (Extras, p. 2) She does a fantastic job of building a world and culture that seem familiar but are not overly reliant on real-world facts and dates and that, above all, feel alive and real. The use of stories, especially in this book, really helps that, as well as the wonderful descriptions of the landscape. I noticed these particularly in my latest re-read and was reminded a bit of Rosemary Sutcliff, although it's an entirely different land they're describing. In fact, if you're a Sutcliff fan, you may be amazed to find a description of an object featured in several Sutcliff books making an appearance. There's also a quote from Howl's Moving Castle (the book), which is later repeated in The King of Attolia.
Wow, that was all fairly coherent.
A few favorite quotes: "This was no time to demonstrate unsuspected abilities" p. 40 "I noticed that I had ceased to be 'Gen' and had returned to being a kind of unreliable animal, like a cow that's prone to wandering away." p. 126
"The magus, in spite of his dogged pursuit of world sovereignty for Sounis, was a reasonably honest man." p. 179
"The people on the stairs were sucked down in our wake, and by the time we'd left the dark entrance hall and crowded into the doorway of the brightly lit throne room, I felt like the center of a circus on the move. All we needed was dancing bears." p. 259
So, I could have (and should have) written a whole post on Deep Secret because I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Maybe not quite as much as Howl, which is probably t...moreSo, I could have (and should have) written a whole post on Deep Secret because I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Maybe not quite as much as Howl, which is probably the epitome of Diana Wynne Jones. But Deep Secret…man, I love that book. Hence reading it twice. In one month. Basically Rupert Venables is amazing. And all the other characters are too, but I can’t say much more for fear of ruining it. The Merlin Conspiracy follows one of the main characters (Nick) from Deep Secret. READ IT SECOND. There are huge whacking great spoilers for D.S. all over the place. I loved it too, but I really wanted Rupert and *mumbledy mum because of spoilers* to be in it and they weren’t. Not even mentioned. Sigh. This was strange on one level but made sense on another because Nick is just about the most conceited being in the universe and it’s a bit out of sight out of mind with him. Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant, being my favorites of the Chrestomanci series (although The Pinhoe Egg is lovely too), were also amazing. [Jan. 2009] (less)