Oh here it is! The final review of the Chrestomanci series is finally here – don’t worry dear reader, I found it.
Remember how I said this would be a review month theme for February? Yeah..
So anyways, now let’s get to the review!
This story is about a village next to Chrestomanci castle, where the Pinhoe family, made up of magicians, is greatly misusing magic. They are led by Gammer, an old lady who has gone a little cuckoo. They have a feud with a family from a neighbouring village, and things are getting a bit out of hand. They hate the people working/living at Chrestomanci castle, because they know that if it was found out what they are up to there would be massive consequences.
Marianne Pinhoe, destined to become the next Gammer, thinks Gammer hasn’t lost all her marbles yet and is in fact fueling the feud. She also befriends Cat (remember Cat, from the first book in this series?), who is currently in training to become the next Chrestomanci – except she doesn’t know that. Together, they find an egg in the Pinhoe attic, which she gives to Cat.
I really like the dynamic between Marianne and Cat. It’s not romantic, it’s just two kids who are on the road to become friends, in the innocent way only children can do it. Their lives are also quite similar in a way: both are very strong enchanters, and are being trained to become the next leader of their respective groups (by somebody who’s a bit odd). They bond over their shared experiences and love for animals, which is so adorable! Also, Cat gets a horse. Now I am not a horse person and I never got the horse thing, but imagining cute little Cat falling in love with an animal – any animal – is just adorable.
This book is so sweet. I actually don’t really want to talk about it more than I did here, mostly because it’s a sweet, small story about two kids becoming friends and fighting the powers that be. Also, one of the main plotlines is a bit confusing in its twistiness and I totally didn’t see it coming (except for the obvious resolution at the end), so I don’t want to ruin it for you. You’re welcome! It’s a wonderful book, one of the smaller Chrestomanci novels, and I wholly recommend it to everyone.
Now the way I want to round off this short review is a bit different from usual. The thing about the Chrestomanci series is that you can read it in any order you wish. The stories are all stand alone, but I do recommend a certain order to maximise your reading pleasure.
- The Magicians of Caprona
- In my mind this is the weakest of the Chrestomanci novels. It’s fine, but it’s not got the quality that the others do. Also the character of the Chrestomanci only makes a small cameo in this novel, which is unsatisfying if you have read the other books first, but may be a nice taster for what’s to come in the rest of this series.
- Witch Week
- It’s fine, but also not as spectacular as the others. I also recommend this one before the ones as those are all linked together better. The Chrestomanci in this novel (and the above) is Christopher, and maybe it’s nicer if you know less about him first.
- Charmed Life
- The first, the classic. This is where the “main” storyline, following Cat, starts. It’s also better than the above, so it’ll keep you invested!
- The Pinhoe Egg
- We keep following Cat on his journey towards becoming the Chrestomanci, and keep getting more and more confused by this current Chrestomanci guy. Why is he acting so aloof? Why is he always wearing such outrageous dressing gowns?
- The Lives of Christopher Chant
- We go back to the start of Christopher Chrestomanci, and find out why he is how he is. After being confused and attracted by this guy for 4 novels, it’s so cool to read about his background! It really gives depth to his character and the series as a whole.
- Conrad’s Fate
- A continuation of Christopher’s story, and the point where all his mannerisms and characteristics start falling into place. It’s not about him in the strictest sense, but I mean it basically is. Give me more Christopher!
So is The Pinhoe Egg a good conclusion to this wonderful series?
My answer is no – it’s not a conclusion. The Pinhoe Egg is set in the middle of the main storylines, and is a stand alone novel in its own right. It is more than an entry in this series, and even as such, it simply isn’t the ending. This series can be read in any order you wish, and there is no end to it. In a way, it’s kind of unsatisfying. I want to have a nice, clean rounding off of the Cat/Christopher Chrestomanci training thing. Closure is nice. But on the other hand, this handing over of one’s position is not something that ends in 1 move. It gets passed on again and again – you could in theory write an infinite amount of Chrestomanci novels. By not giving the series a traditional final novel, Diana Wynne Jones plays with form once again, and allows us to keep living in this world for as long as we want.
The story goes on, you can simply pick it up where she left it.
Have a nice Easter everyone, and if you’re doing gifts, you can’t go wrong with a Chrestomanci novel (especially order numbers 3-6). See you on Monday!