Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005
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****Conrad's Fate

A Chrestomanci Book

by Diana Wynne Jones

Reviewed May 12, 2005.
Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), New York, 2005.  375 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#3, Children's Fiction)

I was delighted to see a new Chrestomanci book out.  It’s been quite awhile since I read them, but I do remember that I thoroughly enjoyed them and that all of them are well-crafted fun.

Since I didn’t remember details of the earlier books, I can assure you that you can read this book without having read the previous ones.  (Although you will want to read them eventually—they are excellent!)  All you really need to know is that there are parallel universes, and most of those universes have magic users.  A sort of guardian over the use of magic in all the universes is the nine-lifed enchanter Chrestomanci.  He is training Christopher Chant, a boy with nine lives, to be Chrestomanci after him.

Conrad, the hero of this book, knows none of these things.  He only knows about magic what his uncle the magician has told him—that he is burdened with a terribly bad karma.  In a previous life, Conrad chickened out and failed to kill someone.  Now he needs to go to Stallery mansion up on the mountain and find out who is doing evil with magic and kill them.  Otherwise Conrad will die a horrible death before the year is out.

Enough bad things have happened to Conrad that he finds it easy to believe in bad karma.  He goes up to Stallery mansion looking for a job.  But another job seeker catches his attention, a tall, confident boy named Christopher.  Strange things happen when Christopher is about.

This book is simply fun.  Normally, I don’t like to think very long about parallel universes—the philosophical implications begin to get twisted very quickly.  However, Diana Wynne Jones doesn’t look hard into the background, she just uses the idea to cause many humorous things to happen and to explore worlds very much like ours, only with little differences—like the use of magic.

Reviews of other books by Diana Wynne Jones:
Cart and Cwidder
Drowned Ammet
The Spellcoats
The Crown of Dalemark
Dark Lord of Derkholm
and Year of the Griffin
Unexpected Magic
The Merlin Conspiracy
Wild Robert
The Ogre Downstairs
Witch's Business

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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