Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones
Mixed Magics (2000) is comprised of four short stories set in the fantasy worlds of Diana Wynne Jones‘s CHRESTOMANCI; an enchanter responsible for the proper use of magic wielded by the various witches, warlocks, sorcerers and enchanters prevalent throughout his world (and several others). Although the stories are readable enough by themselves, filled with Wynne Jones’s trademark humour and originality, it’s best if you’re already familiar with her previous work in the series, these tales being filled with plenty of in-jokes and cameo appearances.
It starts off lightly with “Warlock at the Wheel”, concerning a hapless warlock who inadvertently kidnaps a little girl and her dog after he steals a car. The most humorous of all four stories, it details his panic-stricken attempts to evade the law and deal with his precocious backseat passenger.
“Stealer of Souls” may be the story of most interest to long-time readers, as it unites two characters from previous books: Cat from Charmed Life and Tonio from The Magicians of Caprona. In true Wynne Jones style, the two boys don’t immediately hit it off, with Cat feeling jealous and resentful that Tonio commands so much attention (and seems to be more miserable than was Cat when he first arrived at Chrestomanci Castle). But when the two are kidnapped by a malevolent enchanter, they have to work together to prevent him from stealing the souls of the previous Chrestomanci.
In “Carol Oneir’s Hundredth Dream”, the titular Carol finds that she can no longer conjure up vivid and lucid dreams — which is a problem since in her world she can have them bottled and sold. Much like a child is taken to the doctor, Carol is taken to Chrestomanci in the hopes he can figure out her diagnosis — and it turns out that the people who inhabit her dreams have decided to go on strike!
Finally, “The Sage of Theare” is set in a world where everything is extremely well organized, including the hierarchy of the gods. Naturally they’re very concerned when a prophecy states that a Sage of Dissolution is soon to be born; one that will question everything — including the gods. Some take it upon themselves to find the sage and cast him into another world — but as most savvy readers know, any attempts to thwart a prophecy usually end up fulfilling it…
As you’ve probably guessed, all the stories in Mixed Magics are linked by the presence of the Chrestomanci, who admittedly does fill the role of a deus ex machina in many cases. But Wynne Jones’s effervescent humour and obvious delight in what she’s writing. Ultimately it stands as a companion piece to her previous books, elaborating on characters and premises established elsewhere, and so highly enjoyable to any fan of CHRESTOMANCI.
Oh my, this sounds like a whole new series I should check out. Awesome!
I only recently started reading Jones’ work, but your reviews make me think I’d love the Chrestomanci series. Thanks, Rebecca!
I’ve not read anything by Diana Wynne Jones, but this anthology sounds like an enjoyable read. Thank you for sharing.