Friday, April 6, 2012

Book Review: Magicians of Caprona & Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci Volume Two

Diana Wynne Jones

Review for Volume One

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...

There is a world in which the peaceful city-state of Caprona is threatened by the malevolent machinations of a mysterious enchanter...and another in which magic is outlawed and witches are still burned at the stake.
In two worlds the practice of magic has gone dangerously awry, there is only one solution -- call upon the Chrestomanci.

As promised volume two of The Chronicles of Chrestomanci has been read, processed in my brain and enjoyed, to great joy to all.

This second volume focuses more on expanding the world, rather than the character of Chrestomanci itself. In fact Chrestomanci is a minor character in both and the only character who appears as a character from the first two books. Also instead of focusing on one character throughout the story, a multitude of character perspectives are shown.

The first of the two books is The Magicians of Caprona, which appears in the same world as the first two books, but in a different country, Italy, complete with very huge Italian families. There are two great magician families in Caprona who fight all the time for some reason that really both families do not know. This is a favourite of a close friend of mine, but I'm sorry to say that it didn't interest me as much as the first books did until the end (which I will speak of more in the Spoiler section).

The second of the books was Witch Week which I adored. This took place in a completely different world(one of the ones parallel to Chrestomanci's) where magic is illegal and witches are burned. This was a bit of a different style and feel from the first three as it felt more like a who dunnit than a fantasy story, and the great multitude of perspectives made it personally fun to put all the pieces together of who and then why, though I do suspect, due to being an American I caught out something earlier than British readers might have (complete speculation), though in the end missed out on a very humorous British inside joke.

I also ended up reading Witch Week in one go, which I honestly had not meant to do, but I just couldn't put it down and then I was so close to finishing it anyway, I went and stayed up till 3AM with work in the morning.

In Depth Spoiler Review
As I mentioned earlier the interest for
Magicians of Caprona peaked near the end for me, and it is specifically when Tonino and Petrocchi girl are kidnapped and attempt running away, and then when they are Punch and Judy. In fact the inclusion of Punch and Judy and then the literal metaphor of them being Punch and Judy was incredibly enjoyable to me. It also has a slight glint showing how things that seem to be entertaining are in actuality quite violent and scary. I also loved how the villain ended up, both clever and predictable and the fact that the two families have to work together to fix everything.

Guy Fawkes is the grand British inside joke that I mentioned. Except from hearing he's a character in I believe V for Vendetta I had no idea who Guy Fawkes was as I read Witch Week which is why I immediately guessed he was the cause for the split world as I thought he was mentioned quite a lot. I do believe Jones had quite a bit of fun with Fawkes, and I wished that I could have enjoyed the allusion. I really enjoyed how truthfully most people in the world were witches and it showed how the world deteriorated, everyone accusing everyone else and everyone has a secret indeed. No character quite knows what's going on and to quote a quote from Series of Unfortunate Events, it's like blind men meeting an elephant for the first time and trying to figure out what it is. No one has all the pieces, not even us as the reader.

Where the magic came out obviously were among the kids who were bullied and as a child who was bullied I found the book liberating in the way they all developed magic and overcame their bullies. I'm sure if I had read this while I was younger I would have enjoyed it in the way I enjoyed Harry Potter, as it would have given a sense of empowerment (also I would have tried to do magic more than likely, I was quite the imaginative child).


I feel as if these two books can be seen as stand alone, I would read them after Charmed Life as an introduction to Chrestomanci, but after that it doesn't matter. It has no real relation to the first two books other than Chrestomanci making an appearance and taking place in that specific fantasy universe.

Magicians has a similar feel to the first two, but is different enough that you shouldn't be expecting it to be more "The adventures of Chants in England", and Witch Week is vastly different it feeling, and darker than the others. I have also found (from looking at other reviews and from hearing friends) that usually someone loves one of the two stories much more than the other. I honestly wish they weren't paired together because their connection feels unnatural.



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