This egg was not meant to be found. Chrestomanci himself, Cat’s guardian and the strongest enchanter in the world, is sure to find it particularly interesting. And that’s the last thing Marianne’s family of secret rogue witches wants.
But the Pinhoes’ secrets are falling to pieces, and powerful spells are wreaking havoc across the country-side. Marianne and Cat may be the only two who can set things right–if Marianne accepts her own powerful magic, and Cat solves the mystery behind the mystical Pinhoe Egg.”
The book summary makes the Pinhoe Egg sound so much more important than it is. True, it does get a fair share of action–but it’s what’s inside the egg that really sets things off in the last Chrestomanci novel written by the late (and great) Diana Wynne Jones.
Taking the fanfare off the Pinhoe Egg in the summary, the rest of it is pretty much what you’d expect from the book. Having come from The Magicians of Caprona, I don’t feel much of a disconnect with Christopher Chant’s character anymore. In fact, his characterization in this book marries the Chant we meet in The Lives of Christopher Chant and the one we meet in The Magicians of Caprona. And unlike in the latter book, the latest Chrestomanci is integral to the plot this time around–he’s a figure despised (or feared) by some of our characters, a fact that really affects how the story unfolds for our two protagonists.
If there is anything bad I have to say about The Pinhoe Egg, it’s this: it has too many characters. But at the same time, this is also the thing I love the most about Miss Jones’ novel. The characters are so completely fleshed out, that it doesn’t matter if they only pop up from time to time. By the time you finish the book, you feel as if you’ve lived with them for a time. Most importantly, everyone has an important part to play.
Another thing I highly enjoyed with The Pinhoe Egg is the lack of a proper villain. This doesn’t always work for fantasy novels, as magic tends to make protagonists immune to the usual hardships of life. Also, without a villain to fight against, heroes are usually left aimless–taking structure away from the storytelling. Yet Miss Jones manages to make The Pinhoe Egg fast-paced and thrilling at every turn of the page. I guess this is a testament to how well Miss Jones weaves her stories.
One other thing: I love how Miss Jones infused the story with the many effects of confidence–or too much of it. Self-confidence is something we want to have, something we want other people to have to. And yet, there are times when we put down other people just so they wouldn’t be better than us–or so that we could remain better than them. Miss Jones brings the value of self-confidence to two different environments in The Pinhoe Egg: one in a nurturing castle, the other in a town where a child is treated as such. Miss Jones shows us, the readers, how different people in different surroundings react differently to things that are beyond their control–and how similar some of them can be.
The Pinhoe Egg is a great work of fiction. And it’s a book that should be recommended for children to read, I think.