The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones. Narrated by Gerard Doyle.
It appears to be a peaceful English village setting of about a century ago. Maryanne and Joe Pinhoe are looking forward to peaceful summer holidays when their Gammer, the matriarch of the family, decides otherwise. Joe is to go work at Chrestomanci Castle and spy on the “Big Man”, as Chrestomanci is called. Maryanne is to stay and help Gammer. But while they are there, the Gaffer and Gammer of the area’s other magical families come in. They accuse Gammer of betraying the Sacred Trust. When they leave, Gammer is no longer capable of making any sense, but no one will believe Maryanne that there was malicious magic involved. Gammer must be moved to where someone else can take care of her and the house sold. In the process, Maryanne and Cat Chant, a young enchanter studying at Chrestomanci Castle, explore the attic and find a very strange object that looks like a large purple egg. When Cat hatches it, a chain of events starts that propels the narrative from sleepy summer to adventure, with some quite unexpected twists. This is the latest in a whole raft of Chrestomanci books from Jones, but the first to me. Though there was obviously a lot of background information about Chrestomanci – both the enchanter and the castle – that I didn’t know – this was still an interesting book with thoughts on believing in oneself and looking beyond the obvious. Gerard Doyle’s narration, with a variety of British accents and voices, fleshed out the story wonderfully.
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