Looking for something to listen to on the family car trip to Grandma’s? Try one of these!
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The Montanas and the Petrocchis are the two most famous spell-casting families in the great city of Caprona. The crests of the Montana winged horse and the Petrocchi leopard top the best spells and grace all the magical (and non-magical) buildings and bridges across the city, and have for hundreds of years. It’s unfortunate that the families have been at war for generations. The Montana children are warned away from the Petrocchis starting practically at birth. When the two families are forced to work together on a project, like mending the New Bridge that has started losing it’s magic, they stay as far away from each other as possible.
Tonino Montana looks at all the enchantments surrounding him, and wishes he was better at magic. But he doesn’t seem to be able to learn spells as quickly as his older brother Paolo, or even his dashing cousin Rinaldo. Of course, Tonino can talk to Benvenuto and all the other Montana cats; Old Niccolo, the head of the Casa Montana,is the only other person who can do that. But it takes Tonino forever to memorize a spell, and although it works, nothing spectacular ever happens. At least he’s not like Angelica, the littlest Petrocci girl, who is said to have no control over her magic, and even turned her father bright green. Tonino would much rather be reading a book than making a spell.
But something is not right in Caprona. The magic is disappearing, and both families blame each other for causing it. When the Duke of Caprona brings two delegations to the Palace to talk about it, Tonino and Paolo are drafted to be part of it. Across the room, they see Angelica and her sister Renata as part of the Petrocci delegation–the first Petroccis they have ever seen! The girls look normal though, not like the monsters the Petroccis are supposed to be. The boys’ attention is pulled away from the girls when both families are tasked to find the true words to The Angel of Caprona, a powerful spell that should save their city. But no one knows quite where to look. Even the famous enchanter Chrestomanci, called from England to help, cannot fathom where the words might be.
When Tonino and Angelica are kidnapped to force the Montanas and the Petroccis to stop using spells, it seems like someone must think someone at one of the Casas is close to a solution. That doesn’t help Tonino and Angelica though, who find themselves stuck in a spell with only each other to rely on. Can they work together to escape and get back home?
At the two Casas, even with the missing children, the Montanas and Petroccis won’t work together; blaming each other for their missing child. They’re having a hard time not working spells too. Paolo and Renata are determined to find their siblings.
As the countdown continues, the youngest members of the Montana and Petrocci families find themselves relying on each other. Can they work together to find The Angel of Caprona and rescue their city?
I love Diana Wynne Jones, and I’ve always loved The Magicians of Caprona. (It’s also a bit of an Old Favorite.) In this parallel world, Caprona is one of the city states that make up Italy. Most of the cities are at war with each other, trying to take over the country. Florence and Venice want Caprona and it’s spells for themselves. The Magicians of Caprona originally came out in 1980, and is one of the Chrestomanci books. The nine-lived enchanter Chrestomanci has a very brief appearance in this one though, although his sense of style and his demeanor make as much of a splash as they usually do.
Gerald Doyle narrates this title; he does most of the Diana Wynne Jones books. I love his voice, it’s very smooth, and his accent is quite enjoyable. He does a wonderful job making characters sound different, without changing his voice too much. I would recommend any of the books he narrates–I’ve never been disappointed with his performances.
I would highly recommend The Magicians of Caprona, both as a book to read and an audio book for kids ages 8 and up. With it’s subtle humor and intriguing setting, it would be as accessible for adults listening in the car on a family trip as well as kids and teens.