Cat had no doubt that the man standing in the middle of the kitchen was the ‘Dark Stranger’. Cat’s sister, Gwendolen, had been told by a fortune teller that she was destined for Great Things, and that a ‘dominant Dark Stranger’ would have something to do with it. So it was hardly surprising that when Cat saw the tall, dark, well-dressed man standing in the kitchen, he thought it was Gwendolen’s ‘Dark Stranger’ come to help her start ruling the world.
Sometimes it can be a trial being the brother of a powerful witch - especially when you have no magical gifts yourself....
©1977 Diana Wynne Jones (P)2011 AudioGo Ltd
Very good performance from the narrator, The story is pleasant enough. It didn't grab me as much as I'd hope, but that may be because I'm an adult and not really the target for this book. I did like reading books by this author back when I was young.
"Just as I remember it"
I first came across this book about fifteen years ago, fell in love with it and repeatedly borrowed the audio book from the library. But as happens with such books they wear out and get taken out of circulation and thus was lost to me.
Then to my delight I happened by chance to find it here on audible and I couldn’t download it fast enough. I was slightly apprehensive as I wasn’t sure if the book was as good as I remembered it being, time having that effect on memory. But I find the story as delightful, enchanting and gripping at twenty-five as I did at ten.
And, of course, no one knows how to read an audio book quite like Tony Robinson.
"Better than Harry Potter?"
Well, maybe not, but there are quite a few similarities. Small boy who thinks he isn't magical is taken to a castle full of magic users, some of whom are pretty intimidating, and he goes through various adventures, gets into trouble, and eventually discovers that things haven't been what he thought all along.
Of course Diana Wynne Jones wrote this book long before Harry Potter was published, but readers looking for something along those lines can do no better than delve into the worlds created by Ms Wynne Jones. There are several other books in this series (the worlds of Chrestomanci) which all my children love, and each one brings something or someone new. This audio version of the first in the series, Charmed Life, is fab for whiling away long car journeys, or for a long-running bedtime story, and is a great introduction to the Worlds of Chrestomanci, and the writing of Diana Wynne Jones.
"Great fantasy for the whole family to enjoy"
I'm a big fan of Diana Wynne Jones - her fantasy stories always have delightful characters and unpredictable plots, and this is no exception. Tony Robinson does a great job of narration as well - I really like the voices he's chosen here for Chrestomanci and the dragon in particular.
Audible - please make more of Diana Wynne Jones' stories available for download here - it would be great to have the rest of the Chrestomanci series, and also the Howl's Moving Castle trilogy... :-)
Diana Wynne Jones has written so many wonderful novels. There is always something incredibly real-life and grounded about the magic elements in them, which makes them all the more unexpected and magical. Enchanted Glass, the Pinhoe Egg and the House of Many Ways are particular favourites of mine, although the Chrestomanci novels are all lovely too. I check regularly to see if any more titles have been listed.
Ideally it needs a livelier voice than Tony Robinson's, but it's such a great story that I put up with his delivery (although I took a star off for it). I know that there were unabridged versions of several of her novels available in the US read in an English voice, fingers crossed they can come over here eventually!
"Charming book - not so charmingly read"
I have loved this book for nearly 30 years. I am not really loving Tony Robinson's reading. His voice is rather lugubrious and there is just not enough variation in the voices. If possible, it is making a very exciting book just a bit boring. Read it instead.
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