Plot: Since Christopher was young he has been able to go to other worlds, Anyplaces as he calls them, in his dreams. And sometimes he brings things back. Since he has no one to tell this secret to, he doesn’t know that it is unusual until he meets his Uncle Ralph. His uncle encourages him to conduct experiences and bring back mysterious items for him. But Christopher may be even more unusual and his uncle’s experiments more dangerous than he ever imagined. His trips to other worlds may cost him more than one life.
I’m going on a bit of a Diana Wynne Jones bender. I love her books: they are funny and magical and skillfully written. But if I have learned anything from her, it seems to be: Don’t trust family members, uncles especially. ^_^
In this book, Wynne Jones more fully explores the multiple universes that make up her fictional world. What I found especially interesting about it was the difference between Christopher’s instinctual understanding of the parallel universes and the adults’ more scientific approach. Which also nicely parallels the different way that Christopher and the adults understand his little experiments.
But it’s the colourful characters that make Wynne Jones’ books truly memorable. Christopher is quite mysterious in Charmed Life but you come to understand him and his behaviour much better after reading this book. He is wonderfully complex: both charming and infuriating. Indeed, all the characters are equally engaging, even the villains. Though the best characters are without a doubt the living Ashteth, who is strong-willed and intelligent, and the sacred cat Throgmorten who strikes fear in the hearts of even the most powerful enchanters. Wong.
Challenges: Into the Old World Challenge (2)