Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Conrad's No Good, Very Bad, Fate

I must have started this at some point because a lot of it is feeling very familiar. I love the beginning in the bookshop. Again we have three strong women, though in very different ways. The absent minded academic mother, the independent, smart sister and the manipulative Daisy.

I can't help feeling that even were I a pre-teen I'd be very suspicious about the whole bad karma thing as a reader. Maybe less so if I hadn't just read two books in the series in which pretty much everyone is duping the young male hero for their own nefarious and magical ends. But this currently makes me think a lot of the evil plot in charmed life. Which then makes me question if the Stallery folk are evil at all but then I question that doubt because why else would Christopher be investigating them? I suspect they aren't all evil but have otherworldly tech they shouldn't or something? Is that too Doctor Who-y? Is this a case of slightly formulaic plotting or her using our expectations from the previous books to lead us down the wrong path? 

Also yay Christopher! 

The whole set-up is pretty cool. This is the first book in the series in which the kids go off and work, which gives it a weirdly even more period feel than having tutors at home in a big castle. And I love the cast of characters up at Stallery. I bumbled along pretty quickly through the getting-to-know you section and bumped right into Anthea, the fabulous sister from the beginning! I don't know how I feel about the idea that she's just waiting around for her boyfriend, Count Robert, to fix things, but I assume there's more going on there that we haven't seen yet. It's also nice to see an adult who even nominally cares/is nice to the boys.

I'm really glad that everyone agreed that the "fate" thing is bogus so early, but I wish the whole wine cork/Walker thing had been more climactic. Perhaps it'll come back? 

Certainly looks like I was right, re: otherworld tech. But not at all about Christopher "investigating" it turns out! He was just looking for Millie! I'm glad, once again, that Millie has agency and does things on her own, but I don't understand why - after thinking that school was punishment for taking Christopher's life in the last book, she runs away the second she doesn't like school. And why Christopher thinks they can live on an island all by themselves?

I do like the hints of him fussing about his clothes though. We didn't see that so much in the last book, but a lot in the first.

At first I thought "The ghost" was Millie, having been stuck. I had been kind of wondering if Stallery had captured her and was using her magic, but obviously those were flights of fancy. Now I'm pretty sure the ghost is Christopher. This doesn't actually make any sense because the ghost was there before Christopher disappeared, but where is Christopher then? The ghost must be someone stuck in the possibilities or something? 

I love the actors!

A brief side note - the whole thing about Conrad's mum having spells put on her to basically forget him was quite distressing. I'd quite like the whole family situation sorted out too please.

Oh everything suddenly got excitingly good! Turns out they are all related and Conrad's mum has come to do exciting things in hilariously embarrassing dresses and HOW DID I NOT KNOW MR AMOS WAS THE COUNT. But wait, if Hugo is his son and Felice is the Countess' daughter, this is going get incestuous and problematic! KEEP READING.


Ah. Phew. There is a Lady Amos! Who is Hugo's mother! Glad that's sorted! But now some of the people I like - Robert and Hugo are going to be arrested! Also all the servants are going to be screwed! DIANA MAKE IT BETTER.

Well at least they found Christopher. It's amazing how much calmer it makes me feel to have Christopher around. But honestly Gabriel isn't such a bad guy! Although I can see why Conrad would be freaked because of the whole murder thing (which is obviously hilariously silly) but why are Millie and Christopher so determined to keep running away from Gabriel?
That, by the way, was quite a clever evil plan of Uncle Alfred's, but really, just because Conrad didn't succeed, is that a reason to blurt it all out? 

I love Gabriel scolding Conrad's mum for neglect. I'm not saying he's the best parental figure, but he really does try. And he certainly doesn't neglect people!

I am, it turns out, devastated not to get the Chrestomanci castle years in which Conrad and Christopher and Millie frolic repeatedly. It is nice to see them as teenagers though, but I want to see Christopher and Millie fall in love so much. You see delightful hints of it, but I want the whole thing!

I am also kind of sad that Stallery just collapses down and dies. I'm really glad that the staff all got jobs and so happy that Mr. Prendergast was an investigator - it was a really lovely way of wrapping things up and also showing that adults in power can be really good people. I'm also glad that Anthea cares about Conrad and wants him to hang out with her, but I can't help feeling that even she was very self-centred and forgot him a lot. The only really good family is the one you choose for yourself, in these books, which is entirely fair and a really interesting theme for children's books.

In conclusion I LOVED this one. Onwards to the short stories which I've ALSO never read, before jumping into Witch Week which I love heartily, but again has too little Chrestomanci to make me unreservedly happy.

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