Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones (The Chrestomanci Series: Book 6)

‘It’s your fate – this wretched bad karma of yours – that’s the problem,’ said Uncle Alfred. ‘Unless you put right what you did wrong in a previous life – and put it right now – you are going to be horribly and painfully dead before the year is out.’

Conrad is young, good at heart and yet is apparently suffering from the effects of such bad karma that there is nothing in his future but bad things. Unless he can alter his circumstances - well to be brutally honest he is DOOMED.

Conrad is sent in disguise to Stallery Mansion to infiltrate the magical fortress that has power over the whole town of Stallchester and to discover the identity of the person who is affecting his Fate so badly. His mission is clear – get rid of them! But can any plan be really that simple and straightforward? Or course it can’t! And things go even more strangely for Conrad when he meets the boy called Christopher…..

Ack! Another book in a series with no neon lights to tell me! Happily, this book, a prequel to the Chrestomanci series, is completely stand alone. Phew. Even more happily, the world of Diana Wynne Jones is, as always, as far from the standard ‘mediaeval type world’ as you can imagine. Set in a regency (?) type world of upper butlers and lower scullery maids, this book feels fresh and different. Diana’s trip through the underworld of cooks, valets and liverymen and probability faults doesn’t miss a beat, smooth and engaging throughout. Written, I feel sure, with a younger market in mind, this fits the bill perfectly. My 11-year-old whizzed through it in a day and a half and loved it.

This book is a light read, yet both droll and heartfelt without going over the top in any direction. Interlocking mysteries involving vivid characters solve themselves nicely at the end, tying up the book in a most satisfactory manner.

If you aren’t looking for something deep or you have a younger reader to entertain, this is the book for you.

8/10 A light read, yet both droll and heartfelt without going over the top.

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