Cat loves his sister. She kept him alive when their parents died in a ship accident. She is also a great witch and he is proud of her, even though she does have annoying traits, is stubborn, and turned his fiddle into a cat. He looks up to her and admires her, though he does hope the prediction that she will one day be queen of the world doesn't come true.
Things are going okay in Cat's life until he and his sister are sent to live with Chrestomanci. Suddenly Gwendolen's magic gets out of hand and things go from bad to worse, until Cat discovers secrets about who he really is. Cat's time is coming when he has to stand up for himself, but first a lot of mishaps are preparing him for that moment.
I love Diana Wynne Jones' books. They are delightful and there are wonderful twists and turns that aren't ever fixed until the end. She was a masterful story teller.
Charmed Life isn't my favorite of hers, but I still enjoyed it. It is one of her shorter books and the adventures are more like daily mishaps amplified by magic. (During one part, Cat charms a mirror to float in the air and he had three other children use it to fly across the rooms and halls.)
The characters are as fun as in her other books. I adored Cat, and Janet. I must admit, I couldn't stand Gwendolen, especially by the end, but I think the whole point was to dislike her, so I wasn't hating someone the reader was meant to love.
Chrestomanci reminded me of Howl. If Howl had been less childish. A lot less childish. (I didn't think I'd like Chrestomanci as much as I ended up.)
In spite of this book being shorter, and the story a little simpler than some of her others, the complexity was still there, and all was redeemed and explained in the end. It is the perfect set up for a series and I'm excited to read the others.
Like her others though, there is magic strongly throughout. As well as witches and wizards.