The Chrestomanci Books by Diana Wynne Jones.
Greenwillow Books: NY.

Charmed Life 1977
The Magicians of Caprona 1980 - No Review Yet
The Lives of Christopher Chant 1988
Mixed Magics: Four Tales of Chrestomanci 2001 - No Review Yet
Witch Week 2001 - No Review Yet
Conrad's Fate 2005
The Pinhoe Egg 2006

In a world full of magic it is the Chrestomanci's job to control the magical community, keep the magical from trampling the nonmagical, and limit travel between their world and others. Because of the risks involved, the Chrestomanci is always a powerful enchanter with nine lives-so he can afford to lose a few. He also must have the ability to learn what everyone is up to and travel easily himself to the other worlds. In the series, there is also a Chrestomanci-in-training for each book.

Charmed Life Originally published in Great Britain by Macmillan London Ltd: Gwendolen and Cat are picked to live and study in Chrestomanci Castle-they believe because of Gwendolen's abilities. However, she and the Chrestomanci clash immediately, and she proceeds to show everyone the extent of her powers. Cat, meanwhile, is cowed by her and trying to fit in without incurring his sister's wrath. When Gwendolen escapes into another world, she leaves a Replacement further complicating matters for Cat.

Charmed Life is the start of an ingenious series. I like it best of the series with The Lives of Christopher Chant a close 2nd. Cat and Chrestomanci are wonderful characters, and there are several entertaining tidbits and plenty of twists with foreshadowing details.
related-magic, multiple lives, law enforcement, family, travel between worlds, doubles in other worlds, high interest

The Lives of Christopher Chant: This chronicles the boyhood of the Chrestomanci in Charmed Life. When Christopher's uncle learns of his exploring 10 other worlds in his dreams, he recruits him for "experiments" which turn out to be far more sinister. As he loses lives during these dangerous escapades, Christopher's father realizes he has nine lives and takes him to Chrestomanci Castle to be trained as the next Chrestomanci (chief of magical law enforcement). His future and past collide making him the ideal enchanter to save the present Chrestomanci (Gabriel), foil the plans of enemy #1, and meanwhile save a goddess from her sacrificial fate.

Many little pieces of the story are quite entertaining. Some of them turn out to have more relevance than you'd guess. The character interaction between Christopher and Tacroy/Mordecai and Christopher and the living goddess/Millie is especially noteworthy. It is interesting to see the boyhoods of Christopher and Gabriel, and the cricket moments and Throgmorten ( a devilish cat) are most enjoyable.
related-magic, multiple lives, law enforcement, family, travel between worlds, high interest, smugglers, black market

Conrad's Fate: Conrad goes to work in Stallery Mansion (in an alternate world of the Chrestomanci universe) as a servant. The property is in a spot where details of the world shift at times. Someone in the mansion has learned how to control the shiftings and increase their number.

Christopher Chant follows Millie to this same world since she ran away from her boarding school. While searching for her, he and Conrad are caught in the shifting as is Millie.

There are several ideas going on in the book that are interesting-the shifting of the worlds (alternate mansions), Christopher as a servant incognito, other characters with assumed identities, magical spells, as usual the appearance of the Chrestomanci to set matters right, and a reality shift at the end when all characters are identified. The servant/household structure is reminiscent of Victorian novels-which is also interesting, but overdone. There are some amusing episodes involving servants-in-training, but I would have preferred less details of decor for a smoother flow in the story. All in all a good story, but the 1st and 2nd are still my favorites.

The Pinhoe Egg has some good characters, interesting concepts, and hilarious details. I don't think it is up to the standard of the other books in the series, though. To be fair my kids enjoyed it more than I did. I think it is long for the level it is, and through much of the book the events seem haphazard and unconnected to the plot. They come together at the end, but it is far into the book before there is any connection. It is whimsical in tone, except the 2 clans having a huge brawl. I did enjoy the 2 main characters (one is Cat Chant), and there are some hints of other stories in the making.

Marianne's family is a secret clan of witches. The leader of the clan, her grandmother, has been out of line for quite a while, but recently is incoherent and silently feuding with a neighboring clan.

Marianne finds a unique and precious egg in her grandmother's abandoned attic and gives it to her new friend, Cat Chant. Cat hatches the egg and starts a flood of trouble. Marianne tries to warn her family of her grandmother's behavior and is hushed up. Cat, meanwhile, is noticing oddities in the surrounding area (redirection spells, a strange barrier in the woods, and a feeling of emptiness in the forest). Cat and Marianne join together to bring it all out in the open for the Chrestomanci, Cat's cousin and teacher, to see and resolve.
related-magic, griffin, identity, family, feud, power struggle, invention, mythical or magical creatures, magic in crafts

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