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Literature / Chrestomanci
aka: Charmed Life

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Chrestomanci has one dressing gown for every day of the year, including leap days. They are all fabulous.

A series of novels by Diana Wynne Jones and arguably her second most famous work(s) after Howl's Moving Castle. A set of books set in the Related Worlds about a government official (the "Chrestomanci") who has nine lives and the job of controlling the misuse of magic.

There are six novels and one collection of short stories, although, in some editions, pairs of novels are gathered under the title The Chronicles of Chrestomanci.

The books are, in order of publication:

  • Charmed Life
  • The Magicians of Caprona
  • Witch Week
  • The Lives of Christopher Chant
  • Mixed Magics (the short story collection):
    • "Warlock at the Wheel"
    • "Stealer of Souls"
    • "Carol O'Neir's Hundredth Dream"
    • "The Sage of Theare"
  • Conrad's Fate
  • The Pinhoe Egg

The stories more or less fall into three broad headings: those that focus on a young boy named Eric "Cat" Chant, those that focus on Christopher Chant, or those that merely feature Chrestomanci as a supporting character to an entirely separate main cast.


Tropes featured in this series include:

  • Accidental Kidnapping: The title character in "Warlock at the Wheel" steals a car without realising until too late that there's a small girl and her dog in the back seat.
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • Let's say played with in The Magicians of Caprona, as Jones discussed in several lectures how she hated the trope in children's literature, and was very careful to give the characters good reasons. The adult Montanas and Petrochis are fairly unhelpful, yes, but it's because their prejudice against each other blinds them to any other possible explanation, not just because they are adults (the children start off with the same perspective). They don't so much ignore what's happen as go very determinedly in the wrong direction, and only get their act together at the very end. Marco and Rosa meanwhile are rather too aware for the children's comfort, the Duke turns out to be quite canny—despite childish qualities which at first made even the actual children dismiss him—and Chrestomanci was on the right track the whole time, but just too busy to be helpful until the end.
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    • The adults seem unaware of what's going on through most of Charmed Life, leaving Cat and Janet to try and deal with their problems alone.
  • Affably Evil: Uncle Ralph in The Lives of Christopher Chant.
  • All Just a Dream: Christopher at first thinks that his trips to 'The Place Between' are this. He discovers later that he is actually spirit-travelling to other worlds.
  • Author Tract: The thinly veiled Aesop in The Pinhoe Egg about Christianity turning the Pinhoes, Farleighs and Cleeves into fanatics.
  • Achilles' Heel: Each Chrestomanci has their own individual one. For Christopher, it's silver.
  • Adult Fear: Loads of it. In all books the main characters, who are just children, get entangled in some major problems.
    • In Charmed Life, the protagonist Cat is being used by his older sister, who is stealing his magic for herself. This even kills him at one point.
    • In The Lives of Christopher Chant, Christopher is unknowingly roped into helping a group of smugglers with their business. Near the end of the novel, this comes into full effect, as the employees of the Castle discuss what should happen to Christopher as he was (knowingly or not) participating in illegal smuggling across the Related Worlds. He also dies quite a few times during the course of the story.
    • In The Magicians of Caprona Tonino and Angelica are abducted by the Duke's wife, who is secretly the White Witch who wants to destroy Caprona. They are completely at her mercy for a while and are even turned into Punch and Judy puppets which are used to entertain the Duke.
  • Aliens Speaking English: It's stated that the reason the "Related Worlds" are referred to as such is because they all share the same languages, but the people Christopher encounters in his travels often speak English. Particularly glaring in Asheth's city, which is in the desert and has something of an Indo-Arabic culture.
  • Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: Chrestomanci's dressing gowns.
  • Awful Truth:
    • Young Christopher realizes that his uncle Ralph has been killing and selling off the body parts of mythical creatures. Several of them being mermaids who had been Christopher's friends.
    • The Goddess finds out every old Living Asheth gets killed to make way for the new one. Slightly subverted in that Mother Proudfoot secretly saves most of them. Keyword being "most".
  • Badass Bookworm: Because he's not good with magic, Tonino is always reading about science and history instead. His family has come to be proud of his studiousness by the time the main plot of The Magicians of Caprona starts, however, and it's thought that he'll eventually succeed his great-uncle at the university.
  • Badass Teacher: Michael Saunders, who is a powerful magician in charge of tutoring Chrestomanci's children and wards.
  • Battle Butler: All of the Castle staff are government employees, meaning they're trained mages who can back Chrestomanci up in a fight.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Mordecai and Miss Rosalie. And by watching them, Christopher realizes it's the same case with his forever quarreling parents.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Goddess seems like a very nice, innocent young girl to Christopher. Then when he refuses to help her escape her own world and live in another one, she traps him in the wall of her room in Asheth's Temple, only meaning to release him when he's agreed to help her run away.
  • Bewildering Punishment: Chrestomanci's treatment of Gwendolen in Charmed Life is this to Cat (and Gwendolen as well). Cat doesn't understand why Chrestomanci just chooses to ignore Gwendolen, since that seems to make her act even worse.
  • Bewitched Amphibians: Gwendolen turns Euphemia the maid into a frog, having previously claimed that her bulging eyes made her look like one already.
  • Bigger Bad: The Dright of Series Eleven in The Lives of Christopher Chant.
  • Birds of a Feather: Christopher and the Goddess.
    The Goddess: Thank you for telling me about yourself. I think you've had a rotten life, even worse than mine. People only want either of us for what use we are to them — you for your nine lives and me for my Goddess attributes. And both of us are caught and stuck and trapped in a life with a future all planned out by someone else — like a long, long tunnel with no way out!
  • Big Damn Heroes: Chrestomanci castle's residents.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Gwendolen is cruel and selfish, but it takes Cat a long time to realise because she's always nice to him, at least as long as he's useful to her.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: In Witch Week. And not just for the pupils. Turns into The Good Old British Comp when the worlds merge at the end.
  • Boarding School:
    • Chrestomanci Castle winds up serving this function for young enchanters at times.
    • Witch Week is set at a pretty dreadful one.
    • Subverted in The Lives Of Christopher Chant where Christopher dreads going to school, but when he gets there loves it. He makes friends, excels at most lessons, and quickly grows into a more healthy person than he had been cooped up in his family home with no company. Unfortunately for him, fate - and more pointedly, the adults in his life - have designs on his future, and he is quite quickly whisked away from the school.
    • In Conrad's Fate Millie ends up running away to stop going to her awful boarding school.
  • Building of Adventure: Chrestomanci Castle in Charmed Life, Stallery Manor in Conrad's Fate.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Angelica Petrocchi is actually a quite talented magician, if you can overlook her unfortunate peculiarities.
  • Burn the Witch!: In the setting of Witch Week, this is very common and avoiding it is a main focus of the plot of the book.
  • The Butler Did It: It turns out that Mordecai Roberts was working for the Wraith for years.
  • The Call Put Me on Hold: Although he wasn't bothered by it in the least, destiny didn't catch up with Christopher until that fateful moment when Dr. Pawson took all of his silver away, and Christopher accidentally blew the roof of the house off.
  • Cat Stereotype: Throgmorton is a loveable rogue orange cat (although "loveable" often spills over into "evil-tempered").
  • Corruption of a Minor: Those "experiments" Christopher does for his uncle? Aren't quite legal.
  • Cassandra Truth: Poor Marianne tries desperately to let people know that Gammer has gone insane and is cursing the Farleighs, but everyone either has been bespelled not to believe her, or just won't listen.
  • Cats Are Magic: Both the Montana and Petrocchi families have magical cats that serve them, and are sapient and able to talk to some magicians. Amusingly, they still have some cat-like qualities.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Christopher and Millie in Conrad's Fate.
  • Cold Flames: During the climax of Charmed Life, the dragon reappears, and bounds up to Cat to greet him, accidentally blowing fire onto Cat's face in its excitement. The only reason Cat isn't burnt by the flames is that he remembers to tell the flames to be cool.
  • Call on Me: Any Chrestomanci whenever his title is spoken thrice. Several times, Christopher's in a dressing gown because he doesn't always have time to get dressed up.
  • Cats Are Magic:
    • The Goddess's sacred cats in The Lives of Christopher Chant literally have nine lives.
    • In The Magicians of Caprona, the Casa Montana cats help in spellcasting, and some of them can speak mind-to-mind.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: Referenced in Charmed Life (the protagonist's nickname is Cat because he has nine lives); used literally in The Lives of Christopher Chant.
  • Clashing Cousins: Gwendolyn and Janet make enemies almost the moment they meet, although they don't realize their relation at the time.
    • Christopher Chant and his cousin Francis, due to Francis bullying him when they were children.
  • Continuity Nod: A lot of them are scattered throughout the series.
    • The tan, fair-haired aide of Gabriel De Witt's at the end of Conrad's Fate.
    • Millie's cats in The Pinhoe Egg. They are all descended from Throgmorten and Bethi's kitten who came to live with the Goddess in Chrestomanci Castle.
    • Elizabeth, one of the students mentioned at the end of Conrad's Fate, is Paolo and Tonino Montana's mother in The Magicians of Caprona.
    • Jason the boot boy from The Lives of Christopher Chant is featured a lot in The Pinhoe Egg as a powerful magic-user who is tasked with finding exotic plants from other worlds to bring back to the Castle.
    • O'Neir, one of Christopher's childhood friends is the father of the female protagonist featured in "Carol O'Neir's Hundredth Dream".
    • Millie's throwaway line in Charmed Life about someone bullying her is central to the plot in Conrad's Fate.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Chrestomanci tries to made his sudden appearances after people call his name look like this.
  • Corporal Punishment: Chrestomanci has Michael spank Gwendolen with a boot after she plays a particularly nasty magical prank, and boxes Cat's ears for not stopping her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tacroy and Christopher both. Wonder who the latter learned it from?
  • Dimension Lord: The Dright of Series Eleven.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The Wraith in The Lives of Christopher Chant.
  • Double Agent: Tacroy is an unwilling triple agent.
  • Dream Weaver:
    • "Carol O'Neir's Hundredth Dream" is about a girl who can control her dreams (to an extent) and siphon them off for commercial reproduction.
    • As a child Christopher believes that he is some version of this, once he's old enough to know they're a little odd (at first he thinks everyone can visit the Place Between in their sleep). Turns out he's not exactly, or at least, entirely, sleeping.
  • The Edwardian Era: Sort of. It's in another world, there's obviously no King Edward, and the books are set in modern-ish times, but 12-A bears quite a strong resemblance to the era of Edward's reign.
  • Enfant Terrible: Gwendolen was five when she started hijacking her brother's magic and put his lives into a matchbook, something that killed him once.
  • Egg MacGuffin: The Pinhoe Egg, which hatches out a griffin. Apart from the inherent awesomeness, this is a key plot point because they're supposed to be extinct, if they ever existed in the first place.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": In Charmed Life, several of the magical practicioners who live on Coven Street are referred to by their job descriptions, such as the Accredited Witch or the Willing Warlock, because Cat, the viewpoint character, doesn't know their actual names. The Willing Warlock later gets a short story, "Warlock at the Wheel", in which he's the protagonist/viewpoint character/Butt-Monkey, and the narrator still spends the entire thing calling him the Willing Warlock.
  • Evil Matriarch: Gammer Pinhoe.
  • Evil Uncle:
    • Uncle Ralph in The Lives of Christopher Chant.
    • In Conrad's Fate, Conrad has one on each side of the family!
  • Extreme Doormat: Cat, and Marianne, at first.
  • The Fair Folk: The people of Series Eleven are implied to be the inspiration behind the myths of elves.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: By the end of The Pinhoe Egg, you not only have witches, wizards, magicians, sorcerers, and enchanters all in the same world, but now there are griffins, unicorns, and all sorts of hidden mythical beasts in the world. Expanding it to the rest of the Related Worlds includes the Lords of Karma (in Conrad's Fate), mermaids, dragons, The Fair Folk, and the sort-of Indian-ish Goddess Asheth (in The Lives of Christopher Chant), and the Classical Mythology-ish gods and goddesses in The Sage of Theare.
  • Fantastic Fantasy Is Mundane: In The Magicians of Caprona, Tonino, who comes from a family of powerful magicians, likes to read fantasy novels, which is to say implausible stories about people saving the world using no magic at all.
  • Feuding Families: Casa Montana and Casa Petrocchi have been fighting for years. They used to be great friends... and, ultimately, it is only a Montana and a Petrocchi singing the song together in perfect harmony that can drive out the White Devil again.
    • Also the Pinhoes and the Farleighs in The Pinhoe Egg.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Cat and Janet in Charmed Life.
  • First Girl Wins: Millie. You can't win anymore than Happily Married with two kids.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Janet. Well, it's an alternate dimension that closely resembles the past, anyway.
  • Five-Man Band: Witch Week's witches.
  • Flying Broomstick: In The Pinhoe Egg, women ride broomsticks and men ride bicycles. In Witch Week it's uni.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Christopher, and probably also Gabriel DeWitt.
  • Freak Out!: The Goddess has a very justified one.
    "Christopher," said the Goddess, obviously trying to sound calm, "Bethi's dead. That means I'm going to die when they get a new Living Asheth." Kneeling by the dead cat, she screamed and screamed and screamed.
    • Christopher, of all people, has a minor one in Conrad's Fate when he can't find Millie.
  • Friendless Background: Christopher has no friends to play with before he goes to boarding school. The reason Cat clings to Gwendolen so much is that he has no-one else.
  • God in Human Form: The Living Asheth, a human girl who is chosen to represent the Living Aspect of the Goddess Asheth and who apparently gains some degree of supernatural ability (or at least an extra set of arms) from the position. The subversion is that Asheth doesn't really share her powers and the Living Asheth is an enchantress who is just that powerful on her own without realizing it.
  • Good Parents: Millie and Christopher. Cat and Gwendolen's parents were hinted to be this, but they died too quickly to get a good impression.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Cat and Christopher burn through their nine lives at an alarming rate.
  • Happily Married:
    • Christopher and Millie.
    • Cat is confused about Miss Rosalie and Mordecai as they certainly act Happily Married, and she wears a gold wedding ring, but also insists on being called Miss Rosalie.
  • Healing Factor: The nine lives that Chrestomancis have are a form of this.
  • Hidden Depths: In Charmed Life Millie is introduced as Chrestomanci's plain, proper wife. She is perceived as nothing more than a motherly figure until Janet lets Cat know that Millie has magic as well. Cat shrugs this off as paranoia, but by the end of the story it's apparent that Millie is one of the most powerful magic-users in the Castle.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": The Living Asheth/the Goddess.
  • Hostage Situation: Towards the end Gabriel De Witt is captured by the Dright of Series Eleven and Christopher travels there to negotiate for his release.
  • I Choose to Stay: Janet and all the other alternate versions of Gwendolen.
    • Also the Goddess in The Lives of Christopher Chant, after she runs away from Series Ten.
  • Immunity Disability: At birth, it was foretold that Christopher Chant's weakness would be silver, so his father cast his strongest spells against silver affecting him. The result is that being in contact with silver causes him to be Brought Down to Normal; when Christopher isn't touching it, he's the most powerful enchanter in the worlds.
  • Inept Mage: Angelica Petrocchi. Being tone-deaf in a family of singing magicians can have... mixed results.
  • In Spite of a Nail:
    • Chrestomanci's world diverged from ours centuries ago when magic gained ascendancy over science, so it's really remarkable how similar it is to our world.
    • More generally, it's mentioned several times, and a major plot point in Charmed Life, that any given person will almost always have an Alternate Self in at least eight nearby worlds no matter how different those worlds' histories are.
    • The world of Witch Week diverged from our own in the 17th century and yet, except for its pathological distrust of witches, is practically identical, down to minor details like brand names and pop culture references. Chrestomanci remarks on this as being unusual even for two neighboring worlds, and it turns out to be a sign that it isn't the result of a natural divergence.
  • Inconvenient Summons: Chrestomanci finds himself summoned to deal with magical catastrophes at the most inconvenient times, often while in the middle of important state functions or while he's in his dressing gown.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople): For the Chrestomanci's home world.
  • It Runs in the Family: Magic, particularly enchanter-strength magic, in the Chant family. When two cousins get married, the chance of them having magical kids quadruples.
  • Jerkass: Young Christopher. Somewhat justified by the fact that he's being shunted around and neglected by everyone around him, but still, Flavian and Miss Rosalie did try to get along with him.
    • Christopher has shades of this as an adult as well, but it's his job to be more diplomatic about it, and Millie helps.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Christopher. Though he's insufferably self-absorbed and can act like a total jerkass, he does have a good heart and good intentions.
  • Karma Houdini: Gwendolen receives no comeuppance for her cruelty and malice, and ends up royalty.
  • Kid Hero: Christopher, Cat, Tonino, Angelica, and Marianne.
  • Kissing Cousins: Cat and Gwendolen's parents were both born Chants and cousins.
  • Last Girl Wins: Marianne, in all likelihood.
  • Lethal Joke Character: The White Devil assumes that Tonino and Angelica are perfect pawns in its plot, since one is no good at making his own spells and the latter is a notorious screw-up. Both of them ruin her day, with Tonino turning her own magic against her to nearly strangle her to death, and Angelica using her power to do weird-but-effective things to summon help.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The Pinhoe Egg is extremely guilty of this. So is The Magicians of Caprona.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Cat has no idea he's an enchanter; Gwendolen doesn't tell him because she's using his magic, and Chrestomanci doesn't tell him because he's unsure of Cat's motives.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Cat sometimes has difficulty interacting with other people, which gets him in trouble the more his sister stirs up. Word of God is that he is autistic.
  • Love at First Sight: Parodied with Marco and Rosa, who find that falling in love and deciding to get married is the easy part, "over in minutes." The tricky part is doing it around both their families' feud.
  • Magical Land: "The distance", where all of the mythical creatures are sealed.
  • The Magic Goes Away: This happens at the end of Witch Week when the Chrestomanci merges that universe with ours.
  • Magic Mirror:
    • The parlor mirror through which Christopher's mother contacts Uncle Ralph
    • The mirror in Gwendolen/Janet's room has a one-way spell that allows the person who cast it to watch what goes on there.
  • Magic Music: The Montanas and Petrocchis prefer to sing their spells, most notably the Angel of Caprona.
  • Magitek: Roger and Joe's inventions.
  • Malicious Misnaming:
    • "Accidentally" getting a person's name wrong, in a way that implies that he just doesn't consider them important enough to remember it properly, is one of Chrestomanci's weapons against people who annoy him.
    • Janet does the same to Mr. Balsam in Charmed Life. At first she's genuinely having trouble remembering his name, but when Cat corrects her she declares that he doesn't deserve to have his name got right, and thereafter makes a point of getting it wrong a different way every time she says it.
  • The Masquerade: The Pinhoes, Farleighs and Cleeves pretend to not have magic so that Chrestomanci won't police them.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Cat" Chant.
    • Dream Weaver Carol O'Neir; "oneiric" means having to do with dreams.
  • Meaningful Rename: The Goddess renames herself Millie, after the main character from a series of English boarding-school novels with which she becomes obsessed, when she moves to Christopher's world for good.
  • Merged Reality: Happens at the end of Witch Week.
  • Merlin Sickness: "The Sage of Theare", though it's more that his life has been running backwards to catch up with him.
  • Modern Mayincatec Empire: Apparently America is called Atlantis and ruled by the Incas.
  • The Multiverse: The Series of Related Worlds.
  • Muggle Born of Mages: Tonino seems to have no magical aptitude whatsoever, aside from talking to cats, to the point of turning into a sci-fi nerd instead. He does have some power... it just tends to be better suited to working with other people's magic rather than creating his own.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Ralph Argent.
  • Nephewism: A year after Cat and Gwendolen's parents die, they're sent to live with their previously-unknown cousin on... both sides of the family. He didn't take them in out of filial obligation, though.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Made most explicit in Charmed Life.
  • Noble Savage: Subverted with the people of Series Eleven. They come off as this, wearing furs and living in a forest with no apparent infrastructure, but are in fact such advanced magic-users that they have no need of houses or any form of technology.
  • No Sympathy: While young Christopher isn't terribly sympathetic himself, he has a point when he complains that he's getting lectured and blamed for dying.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Duke, who finds he can only really get things done around his evil wife's enchantments is by pretending to be silly and childlike... leaving aside the things about him that really are silly and childlike.
  • Official Couple: Christopher and Millie, Mordecai and Rosalie, Rosa and Marco...
  • Old Retainer: Discussed; Christopher is astonished by the idea, because he grew up in a household where the emotional atmosphere was such that the servants generally handed in their notice after a month or so.
  • Only Sane Man: Conrad, especially when he's with Christopher. Gabriel De Witt even lampshades it.
    He also said he was sorry to lose me, because I seemed to be the only person who could make Christopher see sense. I am not sure anyone can do that, but Christopher seems to think so too.
  • Our Demons Are Different: The "White Devil's" nature is never explained, but her true form is that of a rat, and her intentions are as malevolent as her machinations are subtle. And the spell that should keep her away isn't working because the descendants of the two families that warded her off are feuding.
  • Pals with Jesus:
    • In The Lives of Christopher Chant, a young Christopher Chant (the Chrestomanci of Charmed Life) meets and befriends a young girl who is the Living Aspect of the Goddess Asheth. Fast-forward ten years and they're married.
    • Conrad to Christopher, too, considering Christopher is basically a Reality Warper.
  • Parental Abandonment: Par for the course for a DWJ novel. Christopher's mother is a Control Freak social climber and his father a Workaholic who blew all his money, both of whom, though they do love him, want to dictate his life for personal gain. Cat and Gwendolen's parents are both implied to have been very kind, but they die within the first two pages.
    • On the other hand, Christopher and Millie subvert this, both being very loving and attentive parents to not only their biological children, but to their growing number of adopted children and students.
    • The protagonists of Witch Week are all missing at least one parent, except for Charles, whose parents sent him off to a school he hates so they wouldn't have to deal with him.
    • Conrad Tesdinic's father is dead, and his unbelievably neglectful mother lets him be manipulated by his Evil Uncle who lives with them. She's fully aware that her brother is a Manipulative Bastard, but she simply doesn't care enough to take an active role in his life. It's implied she herself was manipulated, reinforced with just a hint of magic.
  • Parental Substitute: Christopher and Millie for Cat and Janet.
  • Pet Monstrosity: Throgmorten, the cat from another reality, who viciously attacks anything in sight, except for Christopher.
  • Pick a Card: "Warlock at the Wheel" has a variation; a shady magician claims to be able to help criminals evade justice by transporting them to other worlds, and offers his clients a fan of cards and tells them to pick one to determine which world they will be transported to. The protagonist, after picking his card, notices that it's one of those trick decks where the cards are all the same, and it's confirmed at the end of the story that the magician actually only knows one world-transport spell, and sends all his clients to the same place (where they're generally picked up by one of Chrestomanci's agents more or less immediately).
  • Power Limiter/Power Nullifier: Every nine-lived enchanter has some sort of Achilles' Heel. For Christopher, it's silver: being in contact with it in any way renders him completely incapable of using magic. In Cat's case, he's left handed and thus has to use it to cast magic; any magic cast with his right will either be very weak or not work at all.
  • Pretty in Mink: The inhabitants of Series Eleven wear furs (and jewellery) to indicate social status. Christopher dresses up in a tiger-skin rug in the hope to impress them when he has to travel to their dimension.
  • Proper Lady: Irene Yeldham, nee Pinhoe.
  • Properly Paranoid: The Goddess is very concerned about what happened to all the other Living Asheths. Christopher thinks she's being silly. Christopher is wrong.
  • Prophecy Twist: When Christopher is born, his father casts his horoscope and interprets it to say that silver will be a source of danger to him. The source of most of the danger he faces in the novel is Ralph Argent.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Tacroy, aka Mordecai Roberts.
  • Puppet Permutation: When Tonino and Angelica get too close to the truth, they're shrunk to doll size and forced to perform in the Duke's Punch and Judy theater.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Christopher towards Gabriel De Witt, which lessens considerably when Christopher realizes De Witt had hated becoming Chrestomanci just as much as he does. But that doesn't stop it from rising up whenever they butt heads, like in Conrad's Fate.
  • Reality Warper: Enchanters. Before receiving formal training in magic, Christopher and Cat warped reality without even realizing it.
  • Reincarnation: Conrad's uncle tells him he has 'bad karma' because of something he did in a past life. Turns out he's lying, and Conrad is brand new.
  • Replacement Sibling: Janet for Gwendolen, to Cat.
  • Screening the Call: Gwendolen's actions had this effect on Cat.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: After Christopher's father predicts that Christopher will be threatened by silver, he casts his strongest spells to make silver neutral to Christopher. The effect of this is that silver cancels out Christopher's magic, which is at best inconvenient and at worst life-threatening.
  • Servile Snarker: Mary and Euphemia, the two particular maids who serve the children, grow more and more snarky as Gwendolen shows more and more of her bitchy side.
  • Ship Tease: Christopher and Millie, by the bucket loads, in Conrad's Fate.
  • Sibling Team: Neither Julia nor Roger can stand Gwendolyn, and often hex her in tandem.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Amusingly subverted and parodied in The Magicians of Caprona. Marco Petrocchi and Rosa Montana successfully marry under both of their warring family's noses and live through the end.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Christopher and Janet have the same habit of getting the names of people they don't like wrong.
  • Straw Feminist: Conrad and Anthea's mother, who writes books about female enslavement that few people buy. A hypocritical version, since she exploits Anthea and later Conrad to do household chores she won't do herself and her reaction to learning that Anthea has secretly gotten herself accepted to a college is to protest that she's not clever enough.
  • The Scottish Trope: Because of what happens when someone says "Chrestomanci", criminals go out of their way to use euphemisms to refer to him, such as "Eminent Personage".
  • Soul Jar: Quite a few.
    • Millie's wedding band contains one of Christopher's lives.
    • Each of Cat's nine lives is individually kept in Gwendolyn's matchbook.
    • Tacroy's soul is kept in the form of a silver thing that might be a statue.
  • Super Empowering: A unique quality of Tonino Montana's magic is that he can greatly enhance any spell he takes part in or, in a pinch, turn it against the caster.
  • Sustained Misunderstanding: One of Christopher's favorite discussion tactics.
  • The Syndicate: The multiverse-spanning magical ingredient smugglers known as The Wraith.
  • Team Mom: Millie for the Chrestomanci Castle residents.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Cat, when he finally tells Gwendolen where she can shove it.
    • Angelica and Tonino, by the end of Magicians of Caprona.
  • Tranquil Fury: Chrestomanci.
    There was a moment of ice-cold silence. It was a moment such as Cat hoped never to live through again. “Bless my soul!” Chrestomanci said, gently as frost freezes a window. [...] Cat wondered how such a mild voice could send the hair prickling upright at the back of his head.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Gwendolen's behavior runs the gamut from just bratty to downright evil.
  • True Sight: Witch Sight.
  • Two-Act Structure: Act I ends with Gwendolen losing her magic, and Act II begins with Janet's arrival.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: "Don't Notice" spells deliberately invoke this, and are undetectable by weaker mages.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Christopher and Millie get married at the end of Conrad's Fate. Though this should come as no surprise if you've read any of the other books.
  • Villain Episode: The story "Warlock at the Wheel" focuses on a minor villain from Charmed Life.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: Christopher discovers he has nine lives this way after being killed by a blow to the head by a cricket bat at his boarding school.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The Pinhoes, Farleighs and Cleeves think that griffins, unicorns and the various spirits of the woods and households are "abominations".
  • Wizarding School: A lot of schools teach Magic as one subject alongside the other mundane ones.
  • You Are What You Hate: In Witch Week, witches are universally feared and persecuted despite nearly everyone being a witch.

Alternative Title(s): Witch Week, The Lives Of Christopher Chant, The Magicians Of Caprona, The Pinhoe Egg, Charmed Life, Conrads Fate


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