by Diana Wynne Jones
In this next installment of the loosely-connected “Chrestomanci” series, Jones takes us to an AU Italy:
The World of Chrestomanci is not the same as this one. It is a world parallel to ours, where magic is as normal as mathematics, and things are generally more old-fashioned. in Chrestomanci’s world, Italy is still divided into numbers of small States, each with its own Duke and capital city. In our world, Italy became one united country long ago.
The story, with a Romeo and Juliet undertone, focuses on two great magical families in Caprona: the Petrocchis and the Montanas. Generations ago, a rift occurred between these families, and they have been bitter enemies ever since. With the rise of an evil magic, the two houses must decide whether or not they can set aside their differences. The great Chrestomanci may be the only one who can make them see how necessary it is for them to work together.
This book’s storyline seemed to hang together much better than some of Jones’s other books I’ve read in the past (or maybe I’m just getting more used to her writing style). I greatly enjoyed the large and boisterous families. Excitable, noisy, and fiercely loyal, she wrote about them in a way that easily created a background of a family even larger than the specific individuals of the story’s focus.
Quiet Tonino was immediately lovable as well.
To Tonino, reading a book soon became an enchantment above any spell. He could never get enough of it. He ransacked the Casa Montana and the Public Library, and he spent all his pocket money on books. … And the best book would be about the unimaginable situation where there were no spells. For Tonino preferred fantasy. In his favorite books, people had wild adventures with no magic to help or hinder them.
Such a simple twist of ideas, a world wherein “fantasy” books mean the characters have no magic, but brilliant.
The villain of this story was honestly quite a bit terrifying to me, someone just so ruthless and cruel. But that, combined with the fact that Jones actually has no compunctions about killing off anyone and everyone in her stories, added quite a bit of zing to the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Magicians of Caprona. The Chrestomanci books are shaping up to be some of my favorites of hers, and I am looking forward to reading the rest. 4/5.