**NOTE: I'm only reviewing the first book in the series as I will get to the other story [the second half of this omnibus], The Lives of Christopher Chant, later. I will update the post then to include that review here.
I have been very interested in trying out this series for a while, as it sounded promising, and I finally decided to start with this omnibus containing the first two books in the Chrestomanci Chronicles: Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant.
I have four words to describe this book from start to finish: tedious, unexciting and completely irritating.
Let’s start with the plot, straight from Amazon:
Cat doesn't mind living in the shadow of his sister, Gwendolen, the most promising witch ever seen on Coven Street. But trouble starts brewing the moment the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Frustrated that the enchanter Chrestomanci refuses to acknowledge her talents, Gwendolen conjures up a scheme that could throw whole worlds out of whack.
After that rather interesting premise you have to wonder what went wrong. From practically the first chapter there is nothing to grab your attention. After we learn of the unfortunate accident that left the Chant children orphans we are simply treated to an almost play-by-play of the everyday monotony that is the children’s lives. One thing we are told over and over is how talented and promising Gwendolyn is at witchcraft. Over and over and over…
Things only get worse when Chrestomanci takes in the siblings. Gwendolyn is the single most obnoxious child to ever walk the entire seven [or was that nine?] universes.
She, in fact, reminds me a little of Artemis Fowl but I have to say she beat him as far as being insufferable is concerned by a long shot. She is so full of herself she wants to be recognized for her power and is extremely put off, to say the least, that the great Chrestomanci pays her no heed. What’s a gal to do? Everyday she comes up with the worse spells she can think of to make the life at the castle miserable and so he will finally acknowledge her.
Let me assure you that I, at various times, wished I HAD magic so I could hop in the book and bitch slap the self obsessed little brat to the next universe. Then there was her brother Cat. Saying he didn’t have a spine is putting it mildly. He was ashamed by the things Gwen did and he would run and hide as if he did something wrong. She was constantly berating him yet he never once thought to stand up to her or get an adult involved even when Gwendolyn was getting way out of hand and was obvious she was close to harming someone. The way he just followed her around without saying anything for fear of, oh I don’t know…everything, was infuriating, annoying and every other –ting you want to think of.
This book was a definite DNF. I merely skimmed half of the book to see how it all ended and, honestly, not because I cared but more because I simply had to see for myself how in the hell the author was going to try and make sense of it all.
I give it a 1.5 out of 5 because at least the world was interesting even if the plot was excruciatingly dull and the characters exasperated you to no end. Let's hope that the next book, with the children out of the way since it takes place 25 years earlier than this one, will be better.