Book 4 of the Chronicles of Chrestomanci, by Diana Wynne Jones.

As a note, I’m numbering the books according to the spine of the editions I have, two books to a bound mass-market paperback.  Like the Narnia series, there’s some debate about the order in which to read the books.  Hey.  I had a craving to read the series again and pulled what I had off my shelf.  That’s my reading order.

I read The Pinhoe Egg earlier, but I’m not going to review it here.  It’s been too long since I read it.  I still have Conrad’s Fate to read, too.

This is my least favorite of the series; I read a few chapters into it the first time and put it down.  Then I checked it out on audiobook and listened to it in the car.  I kept stopping listening to it, because it was so painful, but eventually I made it through and was glad of it.  You know Schindler’s List?  It’s brilliant.  You just don’t run around on a bad day and say, “You know what I want to watch?  Schindler’s List.  It’s so comforting.”

Same thing here.

The world is a world that forbids magic, and the story starts out with someone who drops a note to one of the teachers saying, “Someone in this class is a witch.”  In all caps.  All the kids hate each other.  All the adults hate each other.  Oh, god, it’s like sixth grade all over again.  I want to crawl in a corner and whimper every time I come across this book, let alone when I read it.

So this was the first time I successfully read the book.  Don’t think I didn’t feel like putting it down and running away.  But I’d just read the first three, so I pushed through.  Really, really quickly.  This is never going to be a book that I read for fun.

But I wish I’d read it when I was in sixth grade.  It might have made things a bit easier to grasp.

So when you run across that kid (you know that kid) who’s having a miserable time in sixth grade, give him this book.  He won’t like it.

But, dammit, he’ll know what to do.