Plot: The city state of Caprona has always been protected by an angel and by two powerful magical families. But its neighbouring states are getting ready to invade, its duke is addled and the magical families have been feuding for as long as they can remember. The youngest, least magical members of each family, Tonino and Angelica, may be only ones who can save Caprona from this crisis.
You cannot believe my thrill at finally tracking down the last missing book in the Chrestomanci series. I love Diana Wynne Jones and this series is pure magic. I may have squealed a little when it arrived.
This was a really fun book full of magic and familial love. The Italian setting, the feuding families and secret love give the story a Romeo and Juliet feel, though it is nowhere as tragic. There are also enough magical battles, shrunken children, spells gone ridiculously wrong and talking cats to please anyone. There is a nice moral at the end about working together and overcoming prejudice.
The story is also sprinkled with Wynne Jones’ usual humour. I especially apreciated Tonino’s assertion that he likes to read fantasy stories where the heroes use absolutely no magic to save the day.
As an added treat, if you’ve read Mixed Magics, you will recognize Tonino and his special magical talent. His mother, Elisabeth, is also a former student at Chrestomanci Castle. These little ways in which her books tie together is part of the magic, I think.
My favorite books in the series (possibly of all the Wynne Jones books I have read so far) remain Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant and Conrad’s Fate but this is a solid fantasy story written with skill and humour by one of the best in the business.