The Pinhoe Egg
by Diana Wynne Jones
Greenwillow, October 2006, ISBN 0-06-113124-5
A book review by Elisabeth Carey
This is a new Chrestomanci story, and it’s a good one.
Near Chrestomanci Castle, there are several villages inhabited by clans of witches. They’ve worked hard for generations to avoid the notice of the current Chrestomanci and his predecessors, so that the “Big Man” won’t interfere in their traditional practices and their traditional obligation of containing the abominations confined long ago by their ancestors. It’s worked well since well before living memory, but now the witches have a problem.
The aged Gammar of the Pinhoe clan has become senile, and needs to be removed from the huge, rambling old Woods House, and all the family goods except what Gammar will take with her to her daughter’s house distributed or sold. They get the job done, but there’s substantial collateral damage to the village in the process, as Gammar exercises vigorous magical resistance.
And Margaret Pinhoe gets stuck with the responsibility for Gammar’s cat, while her brother, Joe, is dispatched to a summer job at the Castle, to be an information source for the Pinhoes. So all is settled, and after the initial excitement and stress, all’s well.
Except that a neighboring clan, the Fairleighs, have inexplicably started directing some nasty magics at the Pinhoes.
Except that Joe and Chrestomanci’s son, Roger, have been experimenting with combinations of magic and mechanical creativity, and have invented a flying machine.
Except Margaret suspects that Gammar is doing some nasty magic of her own, and none of her relatives will believe her—even the ones who know that Gammar’s actually pretty nasty can’t quite believe anything bad about her.
Except that Eric Chant, the junior nine-lived enchanter who’s the Chrestomanci-in-training has decided to hatch the griffin’s egg that he and Margaret found in the attic of Woods House when they were looking for Gammar’s cat while the house was being shown to the new buyers…
All heck breaks loose, and it’s great fun.