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Mixed Magics: Four Tales of Chrestomanci

Mixed Magics: Four Tales of Chrestomanci

4.4 19
by Diana Wynne Jones

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Dapper, debonair, and wise, the great enchanter Chrestomanci has nine lives and a strong personality as well as strong magic. That personality reverberates in each of these four dazzling stories.

A warlock tries to escape Chrestomanci's justice by fleeing to another world-with hilarious results. Cat Chant and Tonino Montana reluctantly join forces when


Dapper, debonair, and wise, the great enchanter Chrestomanci has nine lives and a strong personality as well as strong magic. That personality reverberates in each of these four dazzling stories.

A warlock tries to escape Chrestomanci's justice by fleeing to another world-with hilarious results. Cat Chant and Tonino Montana reluctantly join forces when Chrestomanci sends them on a visit that turns suddenly dangerous. The youngest best-selling dreamer needs Chrestomanci's help when she finds she can't dream anymore. And as the gods of an ever-so-orderly world try to destroy the young Sage of Dissolution, Chrestomanci lends a hand.

Like Chrestomanci himself, acclaimed author Diana Wynne Jones has a graceful flair, which sparkles in the remarkable wit, imagination, and intelligence of these fast-paced tales.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Omnibus paperback editions combine two Chrestomanci novels in each volume: Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant make up The Chronicles of Chrestomanci: Volume I; Volume II has The Magicians of Caprona and Witch Week. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
" `Stealer of Souls,' the only story original to the collection, is also its most ambitious and successful, offering Jones aficionados the pleasure of watching characters from different books (Charmed Life's Cat Chant and The Magicians of Caprona's Tonino Montana) meet for the first time," wrote PW. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Chrestomanci is the overseer of a parallel world to ours. His job is to monitor all of the magic in his world to make sure that it is not misused. In this collection of four short stories, Chrestomanci is challenged by the things that happen around him. In the first tale, a warlock escapes his own time to find that he cannot escape his problems. In the "Stealer of Souls," an evil enchanter from the past has found a way to stay alive for over 100 years. He believes that if he collects the souls of other powerful enchanters, he will regain his youthfulness and become the most powerful magician in the land. It is up to two of Chrestomanci's understudies to save the day. In another story, Carol Oneir is paid to dream. Her dreams have been saved and sold for some time now. The only problem is, now she is having a hard time creating her much-anticipated 100th dream. She turns to Chrestomanci for help. In the last story of this collection, a young man sets out to find the wise sage. Chrestomanci guides him through his self-discovery in his travels. This collection, attempting to capitalize on the Harry Potter craze, falls short of what a reader of this age would want. There are a number of holes in the story that I believe would only be filled by reading the previous four novels. Then this collection of short stories might be worth the read. I believe I will leave it off my recommended reading list. 2000, Greenwillow Books, $15.95 and $15.89. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Scott S. Floyd
Chrestomanci, the nine-lived guardian of magic, plays large and small roles in the four short stories of this collection. Each tale teaches a lesson. One is a take-off on O'Henry's The Ransom of Red Chief, with a banned magician getting a pass to a world in which he can use his magic again. Employing it to rob a bank and steal a car, he finds himself stuck with an obnoxious child and a vicious dog. Another story muses that fate cannot be evaded—in a perfectly ordered world, fear of disorder causes the predicted disorder. Then there is the tale of that overbearing child who dreams lovely dreams and sells them. Sells them, that is, until her dream characters go on strike. The main reason to have this book on shelves, however, is for the longest of the stories that delves into where all those nine lives might go and what almost becomes of the last life of a formerly powerful magician. Jones told of the selection and training of magicians and of worlds within worlds in her various books that begin chronologically with The Lives of Christopher Chant (Greenwillow, 1988/VOYA June 1988), prequel to Charmed Life (Greenwillow, 1977), and the other Chrestomanci novels. Her work is on what-to-read-after-Harry Potter lists, but fantasy addicts already know her well. Like J. K. Rowling and Philip Pullman, Jones slides her plots along the edge of what readers know to be real, teasing that the magical world might be just down that platform, over in the parking lot, through that mirror. Shades of C. S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll, perhaps? VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9).2001, Greenwillow, 144p, $15.95. PLB $15.89. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer: Lynne Hawkins
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Four previously published stories of varying length. The first and shortest is about a magicless warlock who suddenly finds himself in a new world, with his magic restored. He lands in the hands of a spoiled little girl and her dog. Given the choice of jail or caring for the youngster, he chooses the former. The longest of the stories involves Cat Chant and new boy Tonino Montana. They are sent on a disastrous visit that ends with them releasing the souls of eight enchanters from the power of an evil enchanter. Story three, which is perhaps the most fun, is about Carol Oneir, "the world's youngest best-selling dreamer." Her hovering mother and her own desires for the trappings of fame are too much pressure for her though, and her dreams dry up. With the direct help of Chrestomanci, Carol discovers that her main characters are unhappy; as they escape from her dreams, she is released to live a relatively normal life as well. The last story features Thasper, son of a god, who is destined to bring down the order of Heaven. His father's attempts to avert the disaster will leave readers scratching their heads and pondering the effects of even the simplest act on everything else in space and time. The plots are fully realized and engaging, but characterizations are uneven-Thasper and the Willing Warlock are rather flat, while Carol and her dream folk leap right off the page. "Chrestomanci" fans will best appreciate this book. For a truly delightful short-story collection, try Michael Stearns's A Wizard's Dozen (Harcourt, 1993).-Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Horn Book Magazine
“A new addition to the Chrestomanci canon is cause for celebration.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Chrestomanci Series
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File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
8 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Willing Warlock was a born loser. He lost his magic when Chrestomanci took it away, and that meant he lost his usual way of making a living. So he decided to take up a life of crime instead by stealing a motorcar, because he loved motorcars, and selling it. He found a beautiful car in Wolvercote High Street, but he lost his head when a policeman saw him trying to pick the lock and cycled up to know what he was doing. He ran.

The policeman pedaled after him, blowing his whistle, and the Willing Warlock climbed over the nearest wall and ran again, with the whistle still sounding, until he arrived in the backyard of a onetime Accredited Witch who was a friend of his. "What shall I do'?" he panted.

"How should I know?" said the Accredited Witch. "I'm not used to doing without magic any more than you are. The only soul I know who's still in business is a French wizard in Shepherd's Bush."

"Tell me his address," said the Willing Warlock.

The Accredited Witch told him. "But it won't do you a scrap of good," she said unhelpfully. "Jean-Pierre always charges the earth. Now I'll thank you to get out of here before you bring the police down on me, too."

The Willing Warlock went out of the witch's front door into Coven Street and blenched at the sound of police whistles still shrilling in the distance. Since it seemed to him that he had no time to waste, he hurried to the nearest toyshop and parted with his last half crown for a toy pistol. Armed with this, he walked into the first post office he came to.

"Your money or your life," he said to the postmistress. The Willing Warlock was a bulky young man who always looked as ifhe needed to shave, and the Postmistress was sure he was a desperate character. She let him clear out her safe.

The Willing Warlock put the money and the pistol in his pocket and hailed a taxi in which he drove all the way to Shepherd's Bush, feeling this was the next best thing to having a car of his own. It cost a lot, but he arrived at the French wizard's office still with £273 6s 4d in his pocket.

The French wizard shrugged in a very French way. "What is it you expect me to do for you, my friend? Me, I try not to offend the police. If you wish me to help, it will cost you."

"A hundred pounds," said the Willing Warlock. "Hide me somehow."

Jean-Pierre did another shrug. "For that money," he said, "I could hide you two ways. I could turn you into a small round stone -- "

"No, thanks' " said the Willing Warlock.

" -- and keep you in a drawer," said Jean-Pierre. "Or I could send you to another world entirely. I could even send you to a world where you would have your magic again -- "

"Have my magic?" exclaimed the Willing Warlock.

" -- but that would cost you twice as much," said Jean-Pierre.

"Yes, naturally you could have your magic again, if you went some-where where Chrestomanci has no power. The man is not all-powerful."

"Then I'll go to one of those places," said the Willing Warlock.

"Very well." In a bored sort of way, Jean-Pierre picked up a pack of cards and fanned them out. "Choose a card. This decides which world you will grace with your blue chin."

As the Willing Warlock stretched out his hand to take a card, Jean-Pierre moved them out of reach. "Whatever world it is," he said, "the money there will be quite different from your pounds, shillings, and pence. You might as well give me all you have."

So the Willing Warlock handed over all his £273 6s 4d. Then he was allowed to pick a card. It was the ten of clubs. Not a bad card, the Willing Warlock thought. He was no fortune teller, of course, but he knew the ten of clubs meant that someone would bully somebody. He decided that he would be the one doing the bullying, and handed back the card. Jean-Pierre tossed all the cards carelessly down on a table. The Willing Warlock just had time to see that every single one was the ten of clubs, before he found himself still in Shepherd's Bush but in another world entirely.

He was standing in what seemed to be a car park beside a big road. On that road, more cars than he had ever seen in his life were rushing past, together with lorries and the occasional big red bus. There were cars standing all around him. This was a good world indeed!

The Willing Warlock sniffed the delicious smell of petrol and turned to the nearest parked car to see how it worked. It looked rather different from the one he had tried to steal in Wolvercote. Experimentally he made a magic pass over its bonnet. To his delight, the bonnet promptly sprang open an inch or so. The French wizard had not lied. He had his magic back.

The Willing Warlock was just about to heave up the bonnet and plunge into the mysteries beneath when he saw a large lady in uniform, with a yellow band around her cap, tramping meaningfully toward him. She must be a policewoman. Now he had his magic back, the Willing Warlock did not panic. He simply let go of the bonnet and sauntered casually away. Rather to his surprise, the policewoman did not follow him. She just gave him a look of deep contempt and tucked a message of some kind behind the wiper of the car.

All the same, the Willing Warlock felt it prudent to go on walking. He walked to another street, looking at cars all the time, until something made him look up...

Mixed Magics - AER. Copyright © by Diana Jones. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones (1934‒2011) wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards—and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter—her books are filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy.

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Mixed Magics 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the series. Period.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Diana Wynne-Jones is a good writer. However, this particular series had fantastic yet blandly written out ideas. Overall, this is a very worthwhile read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of the best books I ever read. The only ones that could even think of coming close are Ms. Jones other books. I was normally a Harry Potter fan but these books made Harry look like childs play!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i came upon these books because i was looking for an alternative to harry potter while i was waiting for the 6th book to come out. jones is definitely a creative writer and her stories are so engaging that i couldn't put it down. the characters she creates are wonderfully imaginative and you can't help but feel attached to them. my only criticism: the characters are not consistent from book to book. i grew attached to the characters in the first book and was disappointed that i couldn't learn more about their lives. but this is still worth reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mixed Magics is a wonderful collection of four tales. If you like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, I definately recommend reading some of Diane Wynne Jones's books. They're spell-binding and har dto put down!