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Witch Week (The Chrestomanci Series, Book 3)
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2000
I stole this book from my school library when I was ten (sorry St Bernadettes) because I couldn't bear not to have it (I didn't have money then). I've read it so many times I know it by heart..I love the way Jones can create scenes and characters so evocative you can practically smell the stench of the school changing rooms, feel the disgust of school dinners and feel pride when her heroes triumph (and wish you knew them). She introduces ideas that seem so plausible you find yourself convinced that you too are a witch and cast spells on people who deserve a comeuppance...Yeah, so I'm 22 years old but I still believe that Crestomanci exists somewhere, in one of the alternative worlds than run parallel to this, and why shouldn't he? Jones helped take my imagination beyond the grey corners of my life in Manchester, and for that I'll always be grateful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I read this book first when I was eight - now, 25 years later, I still read it with immense pleasure. Diana Wynne Jones was such a wonderful writer because she could blend the supernatural with reality brilliantly. 'Witch Week' is both a glorious depiction of the horrors of boarding school, and a very funny story about the use of magic, and how it can go horribly wrong very quickly. Wynne Jones takes us to another world, like ours but subtly different (an ongoing theme of many of her books) in which witchcraft is acknowledged but witches are regarded as criminals and burnt. When a master at Larwood House, a boarding school for orphans and 'difficult' children, receives an anonymous letter telling him that someone in the class is a witch, a veritable hunt begins - meanwhile Charles, Nirupam and Nan, all three unhappy bullied pupils, begin to discover their own magical powers, with strange results! As the situation becomes more chaotic, Nan and her friend Estelle are forced to call on powerful help, summoning the magician Chrestomanci (a character who features in several of Jones's novels). And what he has to tell them comes as a considerable surprise...

The best thing about this wonderful book are the characters, who Jones brings to life brilliantly. I once worked with someone exactly like the smug and self-satisfied Simon Silverson, and so read the 'Simon Says' spell section with considerable pleasure. Other great characters include Brian Wentworth the small, perky, bright and annoying deputy head's son, Daniel Smith the slow-thinking bully, Theresa the self-righteous 'class leader' with her gaggle of friends, the chatty but actually very intelligent Estelle, Charles the outcast (who begins a diary every day with the words 'I got up' meaning 'I hate this school' - on his bad days he writes things like I got up I got up I GOT UP!), the thoughtful and silent Nirupam and Nan, the orphan girl who finds that witchcraft gives her a whole new identity. The teachers are wonderfully observed too, from the harrowed Mr Wentworth to the smug, ultra-polite headmistress (I had a headmistress just like this at school!), the rather weak geography teacher and the manipulative drama teacher. I've rarely laughed so much as in some of the school scenes. Around this wonderful cast Jones weaves a very convincing and very exciting plot - by the end, you're turning pages frantically to find out what will happen. The end requires careful reading, and I guess might not convince everyone, but I felt it worked very well.

A superb read - Diana Wynne Jones on top form!
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on 27 April 2013
This is a general review for the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne-Jones. I first read the Chrestomanci series when I was 23. I am now 37 and I am re-reading them again and it is just so blissful! The first Chrestomanci book "Charmed Life" was written in 1977 about 20 years before the first Harry Potter. In this book, newspaper photos moved, Chrestomanci had his different lives hidden in different places, people in portraits and pictures jumped from frame to frame, plenty of clever cats, not a magic wand in sight and so on. From the lowest witch or warlock to the most powerful enchanter, no wand. We're talking people with real abilities, and who do not become useless as soon as they lose their wand. Basically, many, many ideas in the Harry Potter books, you will find in her books. Although the stories are entirely different. And she writes in a light fashion, without too much overwhelming descriptions but just enough to keep the story moving at a good pace.

Why there has never been movies made of these books is a mystery to me as they are so superior to a lot of other teenage books around. Perhaps Wynne-Jones didn't want to. I highly recommend these books. I have just about finished the lot and I am restarting them again, particularly "Charmed Life" which I think is just superb. One just falls in love with the character that is Chrestomanci.

I very, very rarely read a book twice. However, with the Chrestomanci, I just seem to never tire. Even more so with her wonderful book "Howl's Moving Castle" which is not part of this series but which was made into an extraordinary full-length animated feature by the one and only Japanese master story-teller Hiyao Mayazki (Studio Ghibli). Now, I have lost count of how many times I have read this book. I just never bore of it either.

Diana Wynne-Jones is the only fiction author whose books I have read over and over. No one else. I completed "Charmed Life", and started straight at the beginning again.

I wish she had had time to write two or more Chrestomanci books before she passed away. At any rate, I believe her books will be in print for many decades to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2001
From the moment I opened it magic fell upon me! Whenever I found out about someone being a witch I was usually astonished at who it was! I couldn't put it down because I had been captured by the way Diana Wynne Jones wound all these miraculous words into a sentence. I locked away my cares and my fears and enjoyed the magic spinning around. I wanted to go on reading it forever and ever. I would recommend it to children of the age of 9 or over. It is a book that I think everyone would enjoy reading!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 July 2001
This is a fascinating fantasy story about a boarding school with a few witch's in. They only start discovering their magic powers around a certain age. Strange things happen as they develop into enchanters but how do they solve these mysteries
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on 9 January 2014
This was the very first Diana Wynne Jones book I ever read, and since reading it she has been one of my very favourite authors.
Although this is not the first book in the Chrestomanci series, I would recommend it whether you have read the others or not, as the story works just as well as a stand alone as part of the series. (Although I certainly recommend the rest of the series too! They are all brilliant.)
Although this is a children's book, I think it can be enjoyed by all ages. Charming and believable characters, fantastic witchcraft - what more does a good book need! The style of writing, the manner or the witchcraft and the realistic characters made it all very believable and absorbing. Couldn't put it down!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2000
What if they still burnt witches and you just found out you were a witch? A great book that is hard to put down! I finished it in about 4 days. The ending was kind of confusing, but funny!
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on 27 December 2000
my 8 year old daughter adores Diana Wynne Jones, but finds the books a bit tough going to read on her own. This production is top notch - the narrator's voice is crystal clear and she is adept at adopting different voices. The book is very funny and scary too and this is conveyed to gret effect. The music ( which accompanies the series) is also good - my daughter has been trying to copy it on her piano - she loves it. She finds Harry Potter boring and has been desperately telling all her friends to forget harry Potter and try Chrestomanci - I agree!
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on 3 March 2001
this was the first book I read of the chrestomanci series. within a week I went out to buy more, and was disappointed to only find one of hte other books from the series available in my local shop. does that tell you how good it is? I found it easy to identify with the children who were very unhappy at their school, and the theme of people being hated because of something that is a natural part of them... that teaches us a lesson for reality too.
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on 11 March 2013
One of the best opening paragraphs of any book (for children or adult). Deliciously chaotic plot and never predictable until the end. The cast of characters is quirky and fun. The only problem is that the book winds up much too quickly in the last couple of paragraphs, almost as if Diana Wynne Jones was running out of pages. Pity. Otherwise, a real classic.
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