Availability: HarperCollins reissued the series in paperback in 2008 so they’re widely available from bookshops. You can also buy the whole series as eBooks from Foyles here.
The Premise: Set in a parallel universe, or rather multiverse, the Chrestomanci series where magic is a part of everyday life. The nine-lived Chrestomanci is a powerful enchanter required to oversee and regulate magic in the Twelve Related Worlds from Chrestomanci Castle.
Why I Really Like It: Diana Wynne Jones is my favourite childhood writer and I’ve read almost all of the many books she published but this series stands out as particularly special. A fantasy series not just for fantasy readers, this is proper old-fashioned storytelling, you can easily read these books in one sitting. Fast paced, intelligent and completely entrancing it has everything you want - magic, mysterious enchanters, family mysteries, and the most wonderful array of characters. It doesn’t actually feature a ‘big bad’ of the series but the series is far more about characters overcoming obstacles through their humanity, not witchcraft (although magic obviously does feature). It’s about standing up for yourself and growing up.
The influence this series must have had on JK Rowling is undeniable - Dumbledore has definite notes of Chrestomanci and Cat of Harry as well as a plethora of other influences. Anyone who loves the detail of the magical world of Harry Potter will delight in this world. There’s an almost fairy tale feel to the stories with plenty of nods to folklore and myths. A wonderful blend of exciting plot, humour but also very moving moments. Despite winning awards, praise and writing prolifically, Jones is not a household name but if you haven’t heard of her, seek her out now and enjoy!
Best Books: Charmed Life and Witch Week.
Who It Will Appeal To: Fans of fantasy with edge and wit. If you like Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman, Jasper Fforde or Susan Cooper.
Others By The Same Author: Diana Wynne Jones wrote prolifically before her death a few years ago. She wrote books for all ages and her best known is probably Howl’s Moving Castle. My personal favourites, after the Chrestomanci series, are Archer’s Goon and The Dark Lord of Derkholm.
Anna can be found at A Case For Books, Go Book Yourself, and Twitter.