Stealer of Souls

Judith Ridge Judith.Ridge at
Mon May 2 20:20:04 EDT 2005

You see, Paul, you've prompted us all to start chatting again.

I couldn't get to sleep last night (hardly anything new about that!) and I
was dissatisfied with the book I had borrowed from the library (The
Distinguished Guest by Sue Miller--borrowed out of curiosity after reading a
review of her new novel in the NYT last week, but it didn't appeal at all).
So, the hunt was on for something else to read. And I stood in my study and
realised I couldn't think of a damn thing I wanted to read. A bit like that
Springsteen song about cable TV--57 channels and nothing on. Thousands of
books surrounding me and not a one calling out "read me!"

And then one did. Scanning the shelves I came across the slim little volume
containing "Stealer of Souls" that was specially published for some book day
event in the UK and I realised I had never read it. Do not ask me why. It's
not like I'd forgotten I had it, I just had never read it. Obviously it was
waiting for the right moment! (You've all read it eons ago, and I wouldn't
have otherwise mentioned it except for Paul's pleas for conversation and the
fact that I am waiting for a meeting to start and have just enough time to
write this email but not enough time to do anything actually productive!)

Anyway, what a delight to spend half an hour or so back in Cat Chant's
company--even when he's being all grumpy and self-pitying, I just really,
really like Cat and there's something about his that convinces me he's going
to be a terrific Chrestomanci. Maybe it's a sense that in all this grumbling
and "woe is me", he's storing up a wealth of empathy that is going to stand
him in great stead.

It also got me thinking about the question of the nine-lived enchanter's
soul, which I don't recall considering before in any of the novels. I was
unsure at first if the seven beans were all Gabriel de Witt's souls--that he
had a different soul for each life--mostly because it was Spiderman (cheeky
name!) who was stripping his lives from him one by one, and I wasn't sure at
first if all those lives/souls ended up in Spiderman's cellar. But I suppose
if each life had its own soul, then technically it would be nine different
people. Still, it provided some interesting speculation until it became
clear what was going on.

I'm still intrigued by what will happen to those babies that are now
carrying two souls around with them! I know Chrestomanci pre-empts it by
saying they may exhibit remarkable magical ability AND some frightening
memories they shouldn't have, but what are they going to do about it?
Exorcise the extra soul? Will these children grow up to have multiple
personality disorder? And isn't there a heaven those poor souls (literally!)
can go to? (There are nuns, stately as galleons, in Chrestomanci's world,
and church of course, so presumably there's heaven...)

Anyway, no doubt none of this is anything knew to any of you, and my meeting
is about to start (we're about to prepare a Defence of Our Existence for the
powers that be--not really, but we do have to write a rationale of the
selection and inclusion of material in the magazine, which we're hoping will
state our position firmly enough that certain people will back off on the
censorship push!)

That last bit was in strictest confidence...  ;-)



Judith Ridge
Editorial Staff
The School Magazine
PO Box 1928
Macquarie Centre
NSW 2113
+61 2 9889 0044 (ph)
+61 2 9889 0040 (fax)

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