Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones

Someone at Stallery Mansion is changing the world. At first, only small details, but the changes get bigger and bigger. It’s up to Conrad, a twelve-year-old with terrible karma who’s just joined the mansion’s staff, to find out who is behind it.

But he’s not the only one snooping around. His fellow servant-in-training, Christopher Chant, is charming, confident, and from another world, with a mission of his own — rescuing his friend, lost in an alternate Stallery Mansion. Can they save the day before Conrad’s awful fate catches up with them?

Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones is the fifth book of her Chrestomanci series. I remember picking up the first volume of Chrestomanci books when I was really young- probably around twelve or so. I was really drawn to the cat covers on the editions I have. However, since I’m inherently bad at reading books as soon as I buy them, it was much later that I actually started reading the series, and it is one of my favorite middle grade series ever!

Diana Wynne Jones writes amazing wizards/enchanters/sorcerer characters. I fell in love with Howl from her Howl’s Moving Castle trilogy, and I am equally as obsessed with Christopher Chant. I really think that her books, while written for children, can be enjoyed by anyone. As I rolled into this holiday weekend, I wanted to read something cozy and heartfelt. So I picked up Conrad’s Fate which is part of the last volume of the Chrestomanci series. But before I gush into my review, I wanted to share some of the other covers for this book because they are all so whimsical and beautiful:

Conrad’s Fate is set in the English Alps (this is a version of Earth that is similar to ours but just a bit different). As the book opens, you see Conrad living with his eccentric uncle, his sister and his mom. His Uncle runs a bookshop, and he helps out a bit, living for those small moments when he can read the newest Peter Jenkins book. One day, his sister announces that she is leaving home for good. She managed to enroll in a university and get a scholarship for it. Her mother and uncle are astounded. They try to convince her to stay, but it’s to no avail. Anthea has made up her mind and leaves, never coming back.

This leaves Conrad feeling very much alone. Anthea is the only person he ever was able to rely on to ask questions and learn new things. Suddenly, with her gone, he’s left picking up the pieces and trying to hold his family together. When he turns twelve, the time comes for him to either leave school for good or move up into the next level of school, and he begs his uncle and mom to let him continue learning. He wants to learn magic.

But they quickly refuse. His uncle tells Conrad that first he needs to address his bad karma- his evil fate. He explains that he was meant to kill someone in a past life, but failed to do so and if he doesn’t correct his previous fate, he could die. Scared, Conrad goes along with his uncle’s plan and takes a job at Stallery Mansion in order to find out how to fix his fate.

People are wrong when they say things like, “I didn’t have time to think.” If you’re really worried, or really miserable, those feelings come welling up around the edges of the other things you’re doing, so that you are in the feelings even when you’re working hard at something else.

Conrad’s Fate

When he arrives, he’s thrown together with Christopher Chant. Both young men are working at the Stallery Mansion under false pretenses. Neither of them actually want a job, but they both need to be there to figure some things out. Christopher Chant is an enchanter, and he’s very powerful (though in Conrad’s opinion he is also very annoying).

As the two join forces to help each other out, they learn more about the world, the worlds around it and their fates.

To say I adored this book would be an understatement. I loved it! It was so pure, cozy, funny and whimsical. Diana Wynne Jones was an incredibly talented writer. All of her books are so enjoyable and fun to read. I loved getting another glimpse at Christopher Chant (who appears throughout the series) as well as getting to meet Conrad. The Stallery Mansion was such a cool setting and the way she tied together everything that happened at the end was amazing. I highly recommend this book and series! I’ve already started the last book in the series- The Pinhoe Egg and adore it so much too!

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