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The Magicians of Caprona

(Chrestomanci #4)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  11,418 ratings  ·  463 reviews
Glorious new rejacket of a Diana Wynne Jones favourite, featuring Chrestomanci – now a book with extra bits!

The Dukedom of Caprona is a place where music is enchantment and spells are as slippery as spaghetti. The magical business is run by two families - the Montanas and the Petrocchis - and they are deadly rivals. So when all the spells start going wrong, they naturally
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 4th 2008 by HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks (first published 1980)
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Nouk Yes, but he has not a big role in the book
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  11,418 ratings  ·  463 reviews

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mark monday
another splendid entry in the Chrestomanci cycle! this wonderful little series about multiple dimensions, magic, and the trans-dimensional authority on magic known as the "Chrestomanci" has been a real light in my life whenever i open up a new book. what a lovely and pleasing breath of fresh air.

The Magicians of Caprona takes place in an alternate dimension in which magic is openly practiced and where the various city-states of Italy never united. Caprona is a fairly powerful city that appears t
Spencer Orey
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg-fantasy
A smooth and enjoyable read. I read this while I was sick, and it was perfect.

The Italian setting of two prestigious magical families who absolutely hate each other makes for great fun. I wish Italy here had been a little more developed, since at times it feels a little weakly stereotypical (mostly, we find out that they really value their families and eat a lot of spaghetti). But overall, once again, Diana Wynne Jones shows how amazing she was at building these complicated little stories piece
Mark Lawrence
EDIT: Of all the reviews I've done this is the least liked! There are even books I have got more likes for rating than I got for reviewing this one :)

This is the second Chrestomanci book I've read to my daughter Celyn - there seems to be some confusion about the order of the books, but they appear to be self-contained and the order is perhaps unimportant.

It's a good book, not a great book. It's the first of the 5 DWJ's books I've read to Celyn not to get a 4 or 5*.

It retains many of the excellen
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book by DWJ that I ever read. I stumbled on it by accident in the library when I was a kid, and it was the kind of book I would stay up all night reading and then feel sad when I got to the last page. (I still read like that sometimes, but it's pretty rare to find books I can be that excited about).

Really, instead of going on and on about this writer, I will say that these are the books JK Rowling WISHES she could have written. well, I'm sure she's quite fine with things as th
Katie Lumsden
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this – great fun, with a lovely magic system and strong characterisation.
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, fantasy, ya
So much fun! I've read other adult reviewers had problems with a big cast of characters but I had no problem differentiating them at all. I'm curious if children are even confused :) Also Gerard Doyle's narration was so good. ...more
This was cute but hard to connect with. Where some of DWJ's other books employ a tight POV, this one has such a broad lens -- beginning with the entire city of Caprona and the Montana family, and then switching off vaguely between Tonino and Paolo -- that I never felt terribly invested in anyone's fates, nor did I have any doubts about them and their fates, since the plot is so formulaic and involves a literal angel vs. a literal devil*.

As I read I first kept thinking of Zen Cho and how her So
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
[4 Stars] When I started this book I didn't really think I would like it. It was slow and it took me some time to get sucked into the writing, but as I read on I just got more and more excited. This story grows on you, the characters do, the worlds do, and now that I'm finished I want to go back to them!

My favorite parts of this book have to be the ridiculous magical bits like the cardboard horses and the cardboard coach, and of course the silly rivalry between the Petrocchis and the Montanas. T
J.Aleksandr Wootton
Loads of fun, but the weakest of the Chrestomanci series for me. Jones leaned a bit too heavily on tropes (e.g., feuding Italian families; stock characters) which made the plot predictable, though perhaps less so for younger readers. There was also a bit of worldbuilding which wasn't well-developed or integrated into the overall Chrestomanci setting, which raises questions about the underlying metaphysics that Jones never answers.

Despite these quibbles, Magicians of Caprona is well-told and well
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I felt a bit weird when reading this. Jones isn't Italian, is she? but when reading many of the scenes involving the families, the heavily-sprinkled Italian dialogue and the operatic dramatics, I found myself wondering again and again if it straddles the line between "Parody of large passionate Italian family" and "foreigner writing a racist, one-dimensional depiction of Italian culture".
She gets us dizzy with lists of names, describes all aunts as "fat" and "massive", switches point of view mu
Lara Mi

“Without the proper words, any spell is only at half force, even if it is of divine origin.”

The Dukedom of Caprona is kept safe under the protection of the Golden Angel and its strongest magical families; the Casa Montana and Casa Petrocchi. Unfortunately, the families have been feuding for generations and with that, the true spell of the Golden Angel lost. Now a war threatens on all sides of Caprona and while the families throw blame at each other, young Tonino Montana decides to take action
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: readalouds
This might be the least confusing Diana Wynne Jones novel I’ve read! I must’ve understood like 90 percent of it.
Deborah O'Carroll
Read February 2015

Re-read January 2017



“savage” slur, ableism and ableist slurs.

I really like the cleverness of this series, but damn, are the plots so hard to follow. This is no exception, there’s so many characters and a complicated family rivalry that make it impossible to enjoy this book as a fun story. It might be DWJ’s writing style for this particular series though, her Howl book was more of a breeze to listen to.
Dec 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(2020 re-read)

Again, everything I've said in my other re-read reviews applies. Something that struck me this time round: this novel seems to contain one of the few examples of effective parenting and nurturing families in DWJ's books: two families, in this case. Which brings us to the disfunction that is very present: the two families behave appallingly with each other (and in doing so, create deep bigotry in their children, as well as threaten the wellbeing of their city). However, within those
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I loved this book. Even though I could predict a number of the plot points, I enjoyed the family setting of the Castle Montana. I loved how even though Tonino struggled with the family practice of magic, he wasn't an outcast. I loved how his family all doted on each other, and were united and loyal. It was a refreshing change to have a young hero who wasn't desperate to get away from his family, who wasn't treated like a necessary evil, who was loved and cherished and treated like a normal kid. ...more
Dec 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, dwj, chrestomanci
First things first: I wondered why Diana Wynne Jones had chosen the name Caprona to use in the title of this children’s book. Was it from the Latin caprona ‘forelock’? Or from a type of butterfly? Or perhaps in homage to an island featuring in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Land that Time Forgot? None of these notions really convinced.

It seems most likely that she borrowed the name from a village in the Arno valley in Tuscany, upriver from Pisa and to the west of Florence. While relatively insignific
Melissa McShane
So The Magicians of Caprona is not my favorite Diana Wynne Jones book, but I'm not sure why. Her eleventh book has all the trademarks we've come to expect, at this point in her career: an unusual magic system, important family dynamics (with two families this time, both larger than any of the previous ones), an alternate version of Earth, and kids who end up saving the day, but not in a twee way. Add to this some intelligent cats (Benvenuto!) and you have all the ingredients of another classic b ...more
Julie Davis
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The good thing about not rereading for several years is that I'd forgotten the surprises so was able to enjoy it as if for the first time. Original review below.


I have been enjoying this book tremendously since the first page. Tonino is born into a famous spell-making family in the Italian kingdom of Caprona (although there is no unified Italy in this story). Although he can't do spells well he does have his own special talent which his large, loving family appreciates very much. They ha
Emma Rose Ribbons
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How utterly enchanting. Diana Wynne Jones is SO unique and really captures the wonder of fantasy for me. Two families are feuding in fair Caprona but they have to combine their magic in order to save the city. Lots of romance and deliciousness, and cats. This is a super cosy book. Loved it so much.
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
The Magicians of Caprona is basically Romeo & Juliet, except better because it doesn’t end in death. I liked the fact that it was three pairs that ended up uniting together against the Big Bad, rather than just the obvious one. I also enjoyed the fact that it was children who overcame the barriers first, rather than the adults, since children usually do in situations like the one in the book (adults are more bitter and are liable to hold onto past grudges for a longer amount of time).

I felt kind
Shawn Thrasher
Mar 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to Gerard Doyle's narration; I think Gerard Doyle could read license plate numbers and I'd be happy. He's marvelous.

Diana Wynne Jones is marvelous too. I've only met a few of her books that I haven't been head over heels in love with - and this is NOT one of those. Magicians of Caprona is classic Jones: intricate, quirky, complicated (in a really great way), packed with complex characters - most of whom never act like they are "supposed to." I kept wondering - as I often do when readi
Robin Stevens
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another wonderful story from the Chrestomanci universe (8+)

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. If you use it in any marketing material, online or anywhere on a published book without asking permission from me first, I will ask you to remove that use immediately. Thank you!*
I think Diana Wynne Jones is my favourite author. I can go back to her books again and again and again, they are never disappointing and they ALWAYS make me happy. No adult realisation of any lack of literary merit has yet managed to spoil my deep and sincere enjoyment.
My least favorite Chrestomanci book. The best part is easily the what-if-Romeo-and-Juliet-weren't-idiots subplot, where they deceive their families easily. And the part where each family is really proud of even the less-talented younger child. ...more
Annette Fuller
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cross-posted
I was initially going to write individual book reviews for each novel in the Chronicles of Chrestomanci series. But the way I remember and interact with them is always as a unit, so it makes more sense to do a review of the series itself.

In broad strokes: Diana Wynne Jones crafts a fascinating world just a few steps removed from our own. In fact, our own world is one of the multiple worlds present in this universe, I’m sure, but most of these stories take place in a world very similar to ours, b
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
like it was kind of cute in the end but im so sad, my old fave book is actually Not Great :'( :'(
like most of dwj's books there's just soo much like traditional and patriarchal stuff which i understand bc this was written in the 70s, whatev, but also like... thE cATS GoT MARriED. also i wish chrestomanci existed more but at the same time, i wish he didn't just appear out of nowhere 2 solve all the problems. alSO THE Twists were so obvious, really not like the other chresto books which make me g
The setting and characters for this entry in the Chrestomanci series are delightful and the plot is interesting and somewhat idiosyncratic. My one complaint is that I wish Totino had more to do and more scenes with Chrestomanci.
Anthony Buck
I've never quite fallen in love with Diane Wynne jones' books. There's lots to admire here... Some good ideas, a rich setting, some nice characters. But I found the whole thing a bit.. unsatisfying somehow. ...more
Edward Davies
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such an interesting book. I can see that Robin Jarvis might have been inspired by this when he wrought his Dancing Jax series. This was a little slow to start but great fun nonetheless.
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Diana was born in London, the daughter of Marjorie (née Jackson) and Richard Aneurin Jones, both of whom were teachers. When war was announced, shortly after her fifth birthday, she was evacuated to Wales, and thereafter moved several times, including periods in Coniston Water, in York, and back in London. In 1943 her family finally settled in Thaxted, Essex, where her parents worked running an ed ...more

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