Goodness, I'd quite forgotten the variety of new characters that Witch Week starts off with. It's a brilliantly drawn world and the touches DWJ makes to show how close and yet how far it is both from our world and from Chrestomanci's, are lovely. They burn witches! Which makes it seem like olden days, but then there are lots of tiny details that make it feel sufficiently modern and also way creepier because you realise that they never stopped burning witches. Which is certainly one theory of what would happen if witchcraft were real and the witch trials never stopped.
I'd like to point out, very briefly, here that England rarely burnt witches. They burnt women for treason - because to be hanged, drawn and quartered you needed to be stripped naked and they preferred not to do that to women? That's what I've heard in any case - but they mostly hanged people for witchcraft; male and female. I guess they didn't need to draw and quarter them?
There were awful burnings - many in Germany and Denmark - but remarkably few in the UK.
Anyway, to return to the book. It feels kind of like it's about to be Breakfast Club meets Mallory Towers with witchcraft.
I love remembering that some of the teachers (namely Mr. Wentworth) were witches too. Also the whole drama of Mr. Crossley loving Miss. Hodges who wants to marry Mr. Wentworth. It is smart and amusingly written. Plus the children's characters are brilliantly and wickedly drawn. Ah school, you can sometimes be so cruel.
I think one of my favourite things about this book is Estelle. The idea of people, entire families, without magic who try to help them and run the witches underground makes me all warm inside. It's just like the people in WWII or the Civil War era undergrounds. This is exactly what we should be teaching children; empathy for people who aren't like you. Not to rest on your privilege.
I LOVE that the "very powerful spell" is just to say Chrestomanci, but love even more that it's Christopher and his first act at being dragged into another world is to check his clothes. Best silly character trait ever. I have no idea where it comes from - except maybe Christopher's Mama? And I love that Estelle has a crush on Christopher.
Ok, so here's my continuity question. In Conrad's Fate they say that Conrad can't stay in Christopher's world because he'd fade, it not being his own world. But in Willing Warlock he gets sent through to another world and appears to be ready to live there, and now in this one, Estelle says that there's another world to which the Witch Rescue League sends witches. So is it that you can't go outside your series without fading, but can within your own series?
This world - as Christopher's asking questions about it - does seem to be the most similar to ours that we've seen yet. Is it supposed to be ours? Or is it supposed to be just left of ours or something? Ah! Obviously! The one the rescue league sends you to is ours.
Wait, Christopher has a ward who used to belong to a world without magic? It's certainly not Cat or Tonino, so who is it?
This is an anti-climactic ending in the vein of Charmed Life ie. "and then I had some revelations!" but it didn't work for me quite as well. It was still pretty awesome, but there's an element of losing at least some of the memories that makes me sad.
Still I loved having an actual School Story and I loved having a large gang of characters. She shows children being selfish and concerned and self-preserving and compassionate and mature and silly and all these things all at once. And I kept thinking, oh that's the "bad kid!"..."wait, no...that is?" In the end, none of them really are. They are all just human. Which is much more interesting to me in some ways than having a traditional "baddie".