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Conrad's Fate: 10/14/12
Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones is the fifth Chrestomanci book. Like the Chronicles of Narnia series, publishing order is different than the chronology of the series. Chronologically this book is second (I think).
The book opens with Conrad's uncle telling him that he has bad karma. He's probably under a curse and the only way to break it is to apprentice himself to the lord on the hill to find out who there has made the curse.
Conrad's new life gives a glimpse of the British class system but in an alternate Earth where the Alps extend to England and there isn't an English channel.
The house he's working in is a Bluebeard's Castle. There are lots of forbidden areas and serious consequences for going where he's not allowed. That doesn't stop Conrad, though. Does it ever with that sort of set up? Conrad meets up with another boy there for something other than apprenticing. Together they discover the many secrets of the house.
The house is what makes Conrad's Fate something special. It's an ever changing structure and it appears to be haunted. It's a building that belongs in a Doctor Who episode. It's both the setting and the biggest clue to what's really going on.
Conrad's Fate is commentary on class systems. It's also a mystery in a fantasy setting.