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4.6 out of 5 stars
Witch Week (The Chrestomanci Series, Book 3)
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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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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 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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on 14 November 2013
I have read this wonderful, funny book regularly over the years - I love to read it in October - because it's set around Halloween and gets me in the mood ha ha. A great book for children and adults alike - best of all for adults to read to children. Teachers might like to read this to the class 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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on 13 April 2013
A rare author who can appeal across the generations. This should be required reading in schools. She is one of only about 3 children s authors who can entertain children and adults alike with the same book
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on 19 October 2014
present good
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on 3 August 2013
a brilliantly subversive book. easily read but with hidden depths, like most of this authors output, (except fire and hemlock)
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on 31 August 2015
The story is mostly told through the viewpoint of four miserable pupils in Class 2Y – Charles Morgan, Nan Pilgrim, Brian Wentworth and Nirupam Singh. Right from the beginning, there is a strong sense of tension running through the narrative – for witches are strictly forbidden and the fate of anyone using magic is to be interrogated, tortured and then burnt. This being Wynne Jones, we don’t just have a strong sense of fear and tension running throughout the story – there are also moments of farce and laugh-aloud humour.

One of the things I love most about these books is that Wynne Jones doesn’t underestimate how much children understand. There is a whole lot within the story that is implied, rather than spelt out. Mr Wentworth’s fractured relationship with his son, Brian; Charles’ constant black fury and Nan’s desperate yearning to be good at something – even if it is riding around the bathroom on a frisky broomstick tired of being cooped up in the groundsman’s shed.

Although there are shafts of humour, life at Larwood House is no Mallory Towers. The children are divided into cliques, or mercilessly picked upon if they stand out – like Nan and Brian. While the class leaders, Simon and Theresa, spend most of their time mocking their less fortunate peers.

My granddaughter strongly connected with poor Nan Pilgrim, who takes comfort in being descended from the infamous Dulcinea Wilkes, but to be honest, none of the children are particularly pleasant, apart from Estelle. And this is one of the reasons why Wynne Jones is such a clever writer – their surly/victimised attitudes didn’t stop both of us really caring what happens to them,or poor harrowed Mr Wentworth.

And before the end, Wynne Jones throws in a fair dollop of chaotic chicanery into the mix that had the pair of us spluttering with laughter as I was reading. Another gem of a book that continues to inspire Frankie to go on battling through her severe dyslexia to become an independent reader. Another book that has given us yet another tranche of shared golden memories. If you have a youngster in your life old enough for the earlier Harry Potter tales, but perhaps not quite ready for the bleakness of the later books – track down the Crestomanci series. They deserve to be far better known…
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 April 2012
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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