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The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 1

(Chrestomanci #1-2)

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  14,369 ratings  ·  440 reviews
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In this multiple parallel universes of the Twelve Related Worlds, only an enchanter with nine lives is powerful enough to control the rampant misuse of magic--and to hold the title Chrestomanci... The Chants are a family strong in magic, but neither Christopher Chant nor Cat Chant can work even the simplest of spells. Who could have dreamed
Mass Market Paperback, 598 pages
Published April 10th 2007 by Greenwillow Books (first published 1988)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  14,369 ratings  ·  440 reviews

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Start your review of The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 1 (Chrestomanci, #1-2)
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Harry Potter fans
Long before J.K. Rowling ever invented Harry Potter, Diana Wynne Jones penned the Chrestomanci series, in which children perform magic (or fail to do so) in worlds which resemble ours but are ever so slightly different. Like Rowling, Jones infused her fantasy novels for children with enough wit and interesting ideas to make them appealing to adult readers; unlike Rowling, she never made it big, although one of her books, Howl's Moving Castle , was adapted into an enjoyable anime movie by Haya ...more
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, kid-faves
I read an article a few years back -- wish I could remember which publication; hopefully they've gone under -- which claimed that Diana Wynne Jones plagiarized Harry Potter for Charmed Life. As I recall, the accusation was largely based on these facts:
(i) Harry Potter and Cat Chant are both young, male, British wizards who also happen to be orphans (and the reviewer inaccurately claimed that Cat wore glasses).
(ii) Harry and Cat are both taken to a place to learn magic.
(iii) What, you need more e
May 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, particularly fans of Harry Potter
Diana Wynne Jones is a delight to read. Understated, clever, and filled with dry humor, this book was very hard to tear myself away from. The escapades of the Chant boys are ridiculously fun.

I was introduced to Diana Wynne Jones by Miyazaki's animated version of her book, "Howl's Moving Castle", which I enjoyed reading after seeing the film. I picked up "The Chronicles", having heard that Jones' "Chronicles of Chrestomanci" series was superior to the "Harry Potter" books. Though "Harry Potter"
I loved Chrestomanci as a kid. I still remember reading this edition while sitting in the hallway of my elementary school. I've reread The Lives of Christopher Chant several times over the years, and it's one of my all-time favorite books. It captures what Diana Wynne Jones is so good at: believable kids growing up in the absence of adults, inventive and interesting magic, and satisfying plots that all tie together. Christopher's exploration of the World Edge is so captivating and unique. And (v ...more
Joaquin Mejia
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Volume 1 of "The Chronicles of Chrestomanci" contains the first two books of the series which are called "Charmed Life" and "The Lives of Christopher Chant". Cat Chant is the main character in the first book and Christopher Chant is the main character of the second book. They both live in a world where there is magic everywhere. Sadly, neither Cat nor Christopher can do magic. But they will discover that there is more to them than they expect.

Diana Wynne Jones's books are always filled with fun,
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
For Christmas this year, my sister asked us instead of buying her a present, if as our gift to her we would read any book she chose for us. I was happy to oblige the request because I know my sister has great taste in books, and would pick something accordingly. I was not disappointed with her choice of the first volume in the Chrestomanci series. And thank goodness she has the rest of the series I can now borrow too!
She chose this book for me because I am a Doctor Who fan – or Whovian. If you w
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
(First read in May 2011. Re-read in March 2016)

Diana Wynne Jones's writing is the literary equivalent of a delicious cup of cocoa. :)
Kaethe Douglas
I love the concept at the heart of these two books: the many worlds theory is true; some of these worlds use magic. I enjoy the efforts of the Chants to become who they want to be, and the process of figuring out who that is. I particularly love the character of the embodied Godddess, as well as Throgmorten. I don't even mind too much that Edwardian notions of birth-based class were transferred into a magic-using Britain, where the servants are sadly deficient in innate skill (which is somehow l ...more
Jun 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Diana Wynne Jones is just a fantastic writer. I loved both Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant. I want to be Chrestomanci when I grow up.

Disappointed to find a few points of colonialism/orientalism/racism in Charmed Life but was glad to see the inclusion of a brown-skinned (the way he's described he sounds Black to me) character in The Lives of Christopher Chant but then again, his people are really cruel, but smart, so... I'm betwixt and between on that.
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1in-bookcase
Second book I liked a lot, first book was a bit slow. On average 4*
Sam at A Journey Through Pages
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Review from A Journey Through Pages

Now Diana Wynne Jones has been one of my favourite authors for about 8 years now, ever since I read Year of the Griffin. Though one of my favourite memories is when Howl's Moving Castle came out and would see commercials and go: Hey! That's the name of my favourite author paired with my favourite animator, what is going on!? I have since read many books by her (rest in peace Jones, rest in peace), but Chronicles of Chrestomanci is a series that I found myself a
Julie Davis
Feb 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Charmed life is the first book in this two book volume. It also is the first book in the Chrestomanci series, of which I previously read The Lives of Christopher Chant, which is the number 2 book of the series and which I enjoyed immensely. So, naturally I gave it a whirl.

Cat and Gwendolyn are orphans who are wards of their little town. In their world magic is commonplace although not everyone can work magic and there are different levels of ability and talent. Cat cannot do any magic while Gwen
Katie Whitt
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I can't believe it took me this long to actually read these books! I'm a huge Neil Gaiman and he talks a lot about Wynne Jones, but I also kept hearing it as a substitute for Harry Potter withdrawals and none of those recommendations has ever worked for me, but to be honest this fit the bill. In my opinion it's more of a mash up of HP and the Bartimaues trilogy, but since I love both those series that's perfect for me! I like that Wynne Jones doesn't write anything too precious and there are som ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I absolutely loved this book when I was younger, and it was actually one of the most influential novels of my childhood. I really need to read this book again as an adult, because no matter what my change in perspective will do to the story, I am pretty sure I will enjoy it for the sentimental value alone.
The second book, The Lives of Christopher Chant, is simply -- and I believe this is the official term -- amazeballs. Millie may be one of the best characters ever, and Throgmorton, Christopher, and Tacroy are pretty delightful as well.

Everything ends very happily and nicely, but that's okay with me. Reading Diana Wynne Jones always cheers me up.
Dec 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is very magical. I like the way that it makes the magical things around the characters more or less common practice. I really like that each of the magical spells that are cast seem to have some kind of a cost. It is just very good, as is volume two.
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed very much. The setting reminded me of Howl's Moving Castle, another favorite.
Elli Williams
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Cute Book, I think if you liked Harry Potter, you may like this.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is unquestionably awesome.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Somehow, I missed Dianna Wynne Jones during my reading heyday in the '80s. So my first introduction to her was through Hayao Miyazaki. My second introduction was slightly later through a friend who had gotten these collected volumes of the Chrestomanci series. Recently, I found my own used copies. I had already read the first book through Kindle, and planned to just skim it as a reminder before going into the second book, but I ended up re-reading the entire thing instead, which should serve as ...more
Jan 26, 2020 added it
Shelves: older-reads
Kid/teen me gives this 5 stars. It was one of my favorite books growing up.
28 year old me gives this 2 stars... maybe? It was written years ago, but the fat shaming and some of the language was extremely off-putting.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's been awhile since I read these, but I recall them as being great fun.
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Review for Charmed Life:
This is the first book in the Chrestomanci series and introduces readers to the Twelve Related Worlds. Even though I haven't read a lot of Diana Wynne Jones, I think it's safe to say that all of her books are similar in the sense that they all have magic, adventures and interesting characters. I wish I knew about her books when I was younger. I think I would've love her books as a child. In any case, I still enjoyed reading them as an adult so it's all good. In Charmed Li
like a lot of people, i was introduced to ms. jones through Howl's Moving Castle. i thoroughly enjoyed that book, as well as the parts of the movie i saw. (never saw the whole thing, but i was shown the part where howl was depressed and goopy, and it made me laugh like mad.)

these books fit right in to the idea i had of ms. jones as an author - cute, fluffy, and i really liked both books. i hesitate to compare them to harry potter, mostly because everyone ELSE does, but okay. written YEARS befor
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
The first book in the Volume was Charmed Life featured Eric \Cat\" Chant (who I somehow got confused with Christopher Chant in the next book -_- I'm so lame) and his sister, Gwendolyn Chant.^^^^Gwendolyn is such a... grrrrr! So mean... so wanted to biatch slap some sense into her. While Cat's... he's just silly. =P^^^^It was a bit exasperating to read, I admit, but overall it's pretty good - I'm such a sucker for magic/magicians/enchanters/etc, etc.^^^^I enjoyed the second book, The Lives of Chr ...more
Jul 17, 2012 rated it liked it
While I really enjoy discovering Diana Wynne Jones's books one by one, I noticed something about her voice. Apart from the energy radiating from the lines (which I think is more obvious in Howl's Moving Castle), there's a detachment from the her part that usually goes very well with fantasy meant for children. Children are interested in the story after all, which they get more readily by relating to those who inhabit the newly discovered world. And this works brilliantly when there always the el ...more
Dec 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Diana Wynne Jones has an odd style and it always takes me a while to get into her books. She writes children's stories but uses a straightforward adult style to tell them, so it's difficult to decide where these books fit as you're going along. What keeps me coming back to this very prolific author is that any of her books is always guaranteed to be entertainingly creative about the magic in the stories. In this case, I read the first 50 pages a couple of years ago and lost interest because I co ...more
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: Julia West
Shelves: fantasy
A friend recommended the Chrestomanci series to me and I must admit after reading Charmed Life, I almost didn't continue. It was too vague and confusing because the main character did not understand things either. He finally begins to understand and the book abruptly ended. I did end up reading The Lives of Christopher Chant and I liked it a whole lot more. It also made me like the original book more. So, I would definitely read the Chrestomanci books in a different order. As I got on to post my ...more
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was a 'just-right' book for me. Diana Wynne Jones created very different and unique worlds in the story. Although I had to re-read some parts to understand what's going on, she included many clear, interesting details of the places. I really enjoyed being sucked into the magical world of Chrestomanci while reading this book. Another cool thing about how this book is written is the order in which the two stories (of Cat and Christopher) is told. Even though Cat's stories came after Chri ...more
Aug 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
I don't know why these YA novels did not catch on as well as the Harry Potter books, for the ingredients are much the same, though Wynne Jones keeps the series fairly tight and doesn't succumb to the bloat of the later books in the Harry Potter series. There are four Crestomanci books, and they can be read independently.
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What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Witch in Training with non magical brother [s] 4 19 Sep 24, 2015 09:50AM  

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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

Other books in the series

Chrestomanci (6 books)
  • Charmed Life (Chrestomanci, #1)
  • 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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