The Pinhoe Egg is the sixth (sixth chronologically) and last book in the Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones. It was published in 2006 by Greenwillow.
“Cat Chant and Marianne Pinhoe have discovered something exciting–something truly precious, very strange, and valuable. An egg.
An egg that has been hidden away in an attic for who-knows-how-many years. An egg protected by some strong “Don’t Notice” spells. An egg that Marianne gives to Cat, even though he lives at nearby Chrestomanci Castle. Chrestomanci himself, the strongest enchanter in the world, is sure to be interested in the egg—and interference from the Big Man is the last thing Marianne’s family of secret rogue witches wants.
But how much longer can the Pinhoes keep their secrets? Gammer, the leader of the clan, has gone mad, a powerful bad luck spell is wreaking havoc, and there’s an unexplained plague of frogs. Not to mention the mysterious barrier Cat finds in the forest.
Marianne and Cat may be the only two who can set things right. But first Marianne must accept her own powerful magic, and Cat must uncover the secrets behind the mystical Pinhoe Egg.”
What I Liked:
Cat’s back! I’ve always liked Cat best, probably because Charmed Life is far and away my favorite Chrestomanci book, so it was very nice to be back with him. Marianne’s viewpoint is nice as well, and it served to explain the Pinhoe side of things a bit more clearly, although the split between the viewpoints can be a bit jarring since they don’t seem to be connected at all.
Millie is great in this book. She spends a lot more time in the spotlight than she does in any other book (perhaps even more than Chrestomanci). The introduction of Jason and Irene was also nice, although I wish they had been introduced earlier, or maybe more time was spent on them. They seemed like the sort of one-dimensional “nice” people that are thrown into the plot to shake things up for certain characters. They were good characters, but I wish there was more depth to them.
I wonder if Jones is purposefully modeling Klartch off of Dark Lord of Derkholm (another of her books). Klartch is very similar to Kit and the others from that book. Also, I love Klartch. And Syracuse.
I’m starting to wonder if Jones was purposefully trying to hint at a possible Cat/Marianne relationship in the future. I mean, really…it’s too similar to the Millie situation with Christopher.
What I Didn’t Like:
The viewpoints switch from anecdotal village life (Marianne) to magical problems (Cat) with no seeming connection at all. The connection is revealed later on, but in the beginning it can be very jumpy.
I wish that dwimmer had been brought up a little earlier…it’s brought up very suddenly with almost no explanation and no prior experience of it. Granted, this book is written thirty years (!) after Charmed Life.
At some parts of this book I just had to grit my teeth and get through it. Not because anything was particularly bad, but because I didn’t much like what Jones was inferring about the Pinhoes and their situation.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
“No!” said Julia. “I’m sick of all horses.”
“Mr. Vastion, then,” said Chrestomanci.
Cat could not bear to think of anything so beautiful and so alive as Syracuse being turned into dog meat. “Can I have him?” he said.
Everyone looked at him in surprise, including Syracuse.
“You want the vet?” Chrestomanci said.
“No, Syracuse,” said Cat.
“On your head be it, then.” Chrestomanci shrugged and turned to help Julia down off the roof.
It could be an egg, Cat supposed. He turned the thing round under what little light there was. It was possibly more pointed at one end. Its smooth, shiny surface was mauvish and speckled with darker mauve. It was not particularly lovely—just strange. And he knew he had to have it.
“Can—can I have it?” he said.
Marianne was doubtful. “Well, it’s probably Gammer’s,” she said. “Not mine to give.” But if everyone hadn’t forgotten the attics, she thought, it would have been cleared out with all the other things up here and probably thrown away. And the house was Dad’s really, together with all the things left in it. In a way, Marianne had a perfect right to give some of the junk away, since nobody else was going to want it. “Oh, go on, take it,” she said. “You’re the only person who’s ever been interested in the thing.”
“Thanks!” Cat said. Marianne could have sworn that his face literally glowed, as if a strong light had been shone on it. For a second his hair looked the same gold as the Christmas bells.
The Pinhoe Egg manages to capture some of the charm that makes Charmed Life amazing and so brings a certain level of nostalgia to the reading. The new (main) characters that were introduced were wonderful, although the viewpoint switch was sometimes jarring and some of the characters were a bit one-dimensional and generic. Cat’s progress can be clearly seen, and the ending is as fabulous as it could be while knowing that no more books will come.
You can buy this book here: The Pinhoe Egg
Coming Up Next: The wrap-up, coming (hopefully) Monday!