©1992 Diana Wynne Jones; (P) Recorded Books, LLC
I grew up reading the books of Diana Wynne Jones as a pre-teen and teenager and it was most wonderful to be able to return to her work as an adult.
The story has twists and turns, secrets and spells. Here is the story of Cat Chant and his sister Gwendolyn. After barely surviving death by drowning and losing their parents, they are sent to live with the dashing (and remarkably well-dressed) Chrestomanci at Chrestomanci Castle. Gwendolyn sees an avenue to really show off her witchcraft, but Cat is somewhat disappointed to leave Mrs. Sharp on Coven street. At the castle, Cat has to learn the secrets of what his sister has been plotting, discover the true nature of Chrestomanci, and learn who he really is. There are many suprises in store for the reader and most will enjoy the well-developed characters and interesting plot.
The story is well read by a very talented narrator. The inflection for each character is very well defined and the pace keeps the reader (or listener) interested. I would recommend this to adults and children alike. Originally published in print in 1977 followed in 1988 by its prequel The Lives of Christopher Chant (about Chrestomanci's childhood) is likely to become a classic, especially as most of the author's works are being re-released.
If you like J.K. Rowling, you'll love Diana Wynne Jones. This is a most remarkable read.
Although I didn't enjoy this audiobook as much as other Diana Wynne Jones' books, I still enjoyed her wit, and how she brings out the truth in human personalities.
Gerard Doyle yelling out in a "female" voice, "Hunt for pussy everyone!"
Gerard Doyle differentiates as well as his distinct male voice can, however, he speaks quite slowly with long pauses after each comma and period. I increased the speed, or else it would have taken forever to get through it! I did enjoy his voice of Chrestomanci, and wished Chrestomanci spoke more often!
Spoiled and nasty sister steals brother's magic...and almost all of his nine lives.
I enjoyed Diana Wynne Jones' other books, Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Air, and The House of Many Ways, and decided to try this one. Personally, I would recommend one of the other books to this one, they are simply more imaginative and fun. A Charmed Life seems like it is aimed at a slightly younger audience, and I would recommend it to kids who enjoyed "The Dark is Rising" series. The narrator for the book does an excellent job with the voices, and with keeping the right tone throughout.
Though a little dated and a little simple, Charmed Life is an engaging intermediate-level fantasy, a good introduction to children's speculative fiction, well written, with a nice balance of wonder, humor, and tension. Diana Wynne Jones is an experienced hand in this genre, one of the best, and in this story her problematic depictions of women and gender are more balanced than in some of her others. This is the first of the Chrestomanci books, and a fine place to start reading Jones's work.
It's a pity, therefore, that Gerard Doyle is such an extremely bad reader. He flattens the humor and the personalities like a steamroller, distorting the entire story in the wake of his artificial-sounding dialogue and uninspired narration. Although Charmed Life is one of my favorite pieces of children's literature, dating back to my discovery of it when I was 10 years old, myself, I found this performance something to be endured rather than relished.
I am an adult reader who enjoyed the Harry Potter series, and it was mentioned to me that I might like the Chrestomanci books as well.
I found this to be truly a children's book, whereas the Potter series appealed to adults as well.
The plot was decent. My main problem was that the characters were flat. A huge plot point about the relationship between the sister and brother in this book is revealed at the end, and the emotions that I would expect to feel for these characters were just not there
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