World Building - This world is full and slightly unsetteling. There is the feel of a modernish day England boarding school that most British/Fantasy lovers will recognize. There is also the feeling that something is slightly off about the whole thing...which considering the ending of the book makes this world feel very carefully built. It is very different from Chrestomanci's open and pastoral world and really gives us the impression of being in a different place. It was effective, appropriate and complete.
Story - The story had a beginning, middle and end. It had layers and depth. It made sense, we were given all the information we needed with out getting bored by a lecture. Most off all I kept turning the pages. I never once got bored with the story and wanted to finish it as fast as possible and at the same time was very sad when it was over. It is very appropriate for the age group it is written for and as with all stories by this author it is just phenomenal.
Characters - Another strong point to this book, the characters were varied and interesting. Each character stayed true to how they were written, while still being given the chance to change and grow. The children and adults all interacted in believable ways. I liked how the author gave us characters that originally fit into very stereotypical school niches, the popular kids, the bully, the loner, the teachers pet, the stranger, the head of the school, etc...but then gave them all a chance to become something else. I also liked that not every single character chose the best path, that the author recognized that just 'cause you get the choice to do does not mean everybody does.
Editing - Props to the editor. This book was readable and made perfect sense. We get the information we need when we need it and the pacing was wonderful. The book as a whole fits into the Chrestomanci world. I feel this type of editing and pacing is perfect for the intended age group, which is the Middle Grade/Young Adult crowd.
The Kids - I loved the children as a whole in this book. I loved the world with in a world that a bunch of children can create with their own rules, moral, code of conduct and way of thinking. It is entirely different from the world of adults and I remember as a kid how when a group of us got together we lived a completely different life from the adults. This book very much sends me back to those days and it is nice to see a children's author who seems to understand children.
The Spells - The various spells the kids used, both intentional and otherwise where very original and refreshing. The way that a child's mind works to create spells is so different then a "logical and educated" adult and really adds a different dimension to this book about magic. I also just found the results of the spells amusing...especially when the hundreds of shoes appeared and needed sorting, what a great visual.
The Solution - I very much appreciate that Chrestomanci used the kids to solve this worlds problems. He recognized that they were the ones with the magic (for the most part) and that they were more open to a solution that involved magic. Instead of going to the adults to talk or fight the problem, he used his best resources, the children and came up with a complete and elegant solution.
Overall Impression - I really really really wish I had known about this author as a kid. I feel like these would have been some of my favorite books and this book in particular would have appealed to me. I give it 8 out of 10 flying carpets and recommend it to any kid who needs a book to read, fans of British fantasy and anybody who just wants a fun read. Happy Reading Everybody!