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Gr 4-8-Fans of the series will be delighted to be reacquainted with many characters from the previous volumes in this sixth book in the fantasy series (Greenwillow, 2006) by Diana Wynne Jones. Cat Chant is now training to become the next Chrestomanci. His life becomes entwined with a young enchantress, Marianne, when he meets her on a trip to Ulverscote. Marianne Pinhoe hesitantly gives Cat a griffin egg which begins a chain of events in which both Cat and Marianne are reluctant major players. Marianne should be avoiding Cat lest her clan's clandestine magical pursuits be discovered, but she needs his help in preventing a war between the Pinhoes and the Farleighs. Only Marianne realizes that her mentally unstable grandmother is engineering the war. Gerard Doyle's competent reading of Jones's richly humorous and sometimes dark tale is a delight. His portrayal of the children as unwilling heroes reveals their doubts and suspicions through voicing nuisances. The pacing of the reading is perfectly in tune with the obstacles faced by the characters. Newcomers to the series will be drawn into the marvelous Chrestomanci universe, and fans will be surprised and delighted with the turn of events that lead to a most satisfying ending.-Wendy Woodfill, Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka, MN Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Wynne Jones is at the top of her form in this excellent addition to the Chrestomanci books, set not long after the events chronicled in Charmed Life. Marianne's summer gets off to an unpromising start, thanks to her grandmother, the willful and manipulative Gammer Pinhoe, head of all Pinhoe family witchcraft in Ulverscote and the other villages surrounding Chrestomanci Castle. Marianne becomes errand-runner for her entire extended family when Gammer lurches into a punning, malicious (and wickedly funny) form of dementia, the seeming result of a run-in with another local witching family. Meanwhile, up at Chrestomanci Castle, Cat Chant (last seen in Charmed Life) has inadvertently become the owner of a horse named Syracuse, whose powers include helping Cat recognize the presence of dwimmer, a mysterious, nature-oriented magic. On a trip to Ulverscote, Cat meets Marianne, recognizes her as a kindred spirit and becomes the caretaker of a mysterious egg they find in the attic of Gammer's house. Wild magic ensues as the egg hatches, long pent-up nature spirits are released, ugly secrets are revealed, and Marianne and Cat confront terrifying challenges. Longtime fans will be pleased to encounter Cat once again, and to watch the early stages of his friendship with Marianne unfold. Newcomers will relish the lavish storytelling, and doubtless be driven back to earlier books. Witty, wise and wonderfully imaginative-this novel ranks among the author's best. Ages 10-14. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.