Old Favourites: Rereading The Worlds of Chrestomanci

When I was at my parents’ house last week I pulled out the stack of Chrestomanci books that had been hiding in my large book collection since I was quite young. I hadn’t read them in probably 15 years. Something had reminded me of them and as I was taking a break from academic work, it felt like the right moment to revisit the series.

I’m not going to offer a review of the books here because I think they are so excellent that they stand on their own without the need for help from promotions. I only got through two books, The Lives of Christopher Chant and Charmed Life so far, and if it weren’t for my lack of a copy of Conrad’s Fate I would be reading the series in the order recommended by Diana Wynne Jones, rather than the publication order. That order, if you are so interested, is as follows:

The Lives of Christopher Chant244572
Conrad’s Fate
Charmed Life
“Warlock at the Wheel” (in Mixed Magics)
“The Sage of Theare” (in Mixed Magics)
Witch Week
The Magicians of Caprona
“Stealer of Souls” (in Mixed Magics)
“Carol Oneir’s Hundredth Dream” (in Mixed Magics)
The Pinhoe Egg

This summer I’ll work my way down that list. It’s very nostalgic reading these books again, and I find myself very grateful for having been exposed to them when I was young. The writing style is so clear and absorbing. I consider DWJ an inspiration for my own writing, though I try and find my own voice rather than imitate hers. I do appreciate her way of making ordinary details seem important, and how she humanizes her characters. These are things that I think I need to work on myself.

I’ve also read Howl’s Moving Castle, which of course is quite different from the movie adaptation. Independently, both the book and the movie are great works and incredibly dear to me. They read as different stories, however much the general plot is the same. I think it’s a great example of adapting a book non-faithfully for the screen. I don’t know that there are any other examples like it.

Have you read anything by Diana Wynne Jones? Or are there books from your childhood that you’ve recently revisited too?


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