Carson Kicklighter's Reviews > Charmed Life

Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
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's review
Jun 26, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy-sci-fi

This proto-Harry-Potter novel is a little listless, but overall fun and inventive.

Cat’s older sister, Gwendolen, is an up-and-coming witch, and he follows along when she goes to learn magic from the renowned magician, Chrestomanci. Unfortunately, Gwendolen is an attention-hungry brat. Out of brotherly devotion, Cat has to go along with and cover up for her schemes.

Cat’s a bit of a cipher, but his sister makes him a sympathetic character in three different ways. I liked him because:

He was single-mindedly devoted to a family member
His devotion to his family member was not reciprocated
His sister treated everyone so awfully that, when Cat acted decently toward them, it seemed like an act of heroism by comparison

However, I got a little impatient with the story because I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to be about. Cat never really has any motivation of his own, so I thought he was just going to be the camera through which we saw Gwendolen’s story. But halfway through the novel that theory of mine was destroyed, and I wasn’t quite sure what to latch on to next.

Within the last fifty pages, I finally did find out what the real story was, but I wish the real story had been hinted at a little more strongly earlier on.

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