329K: Boy With 9 Lives Stored In Matchbook (Solved!)

I’m trying to locate a book I read in the 80s about a boy who lived on one world in one of 9 universes. Since he only existed in one universe, he possessed 9 lives and magic without knowing it. A family member put his lives in a matchbook so they could use his magic. Then he found out and got his remaining lives back and had adventures in the different worlds.

5 thoughts on “329K: Boy With 9 Lives Stored In Matchbook (Solved!)

    • I agree with this suggestion. It is Charmed Life.

      In the Chrestomanci series, there are parallel worlds where almost everyone has at least one double, although doubles may be living vastly different lives depending on the circumstances in each world. However, once in a while, there is a person with no doubles in any of the parallel worlds (because they died at birth or were never born), and all of the lives and talents that would otherwise have been distributed among all the doubles are centered on one person, and this person becomes a Chrestomanci, a powerful enchanter. In his early life, Eric Chant, called “Cat” because his sister Gwendolen says that he has nine lives, has no idea that he is one of these people. He thinks that Gwendolen is the one who has magical powers and that she saved him from the boat accident in which their parents drowned. Gwendolen is a witch, which is how she survived the accident, but what Cat doesn’t realize is that he actually did drown that day, losing one of his nine lives. Gwendolen is really a dangerous and selfish person, and when she realized that her brother was a Chrestomanci, she started using his lives and powers for herself, putting them in a matchbook so they will be more accessible to her. Gwendolen craves power, and she eventually manages to move to one of the parallel worlds where her double is royalty, leaving Cat in the care of a cousin who is also a Chrestomanci.

      When Gwendolen shifts worlds, it displaces all of her other doubles. For most of her doubles, the situation turns out to be an improvement because most of them were particularly happy with the lives they were living. The double from “our” world ends up with Cat in his world. At first, she is very confused and misses her parents, but when she realizes what has happened and reads the diary being kept by the orphaned double who is now with her parents, she decides that it’s all for the best. By then, she has also become friends with Cat. She knows that, in her world, she had a little brother who died at birth and is amazed to meet Eric, her brother who is alive. Because she is not selfish or power-hungry, like Cat’s Gwendolen, she becomes the kind of sister that Cat really needs and deserves.

  1. You have a treat coming – and do read the rest of the series too! It continued up until the noughties. Charmed Life (the one you’ve read) is the first one but the rest were not written in the order they happen (two are prequels).

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