A Tale of Two Castles
Gail Carson Levine
Ages: 8 – 12/middle grade
On shelves now
Upon receiving an arc of A Tale of Two Castles at ALA Midwinter this year, my Goodreads review read:
“I might have squealed inside when I saw this title in a stack of ARCs. First, Carson Levine, no further explanation necessary. Second, a girl teams with a DRAGON to solve MYSTERIES. I know! Why am I typing this and not reading it? Clearly, I need to re-think my life’s direction.”
And that pretty much sums it up!
No, I’m just kidding. I’ll elaborate.
Two Castles is sure to please Levine’s fans. Several people have asked me if it is “as good” as Ella Enchanted, Levine’s best-known title and winner of a Newbery Honor. That’s a hard question to answer. Ella Enchanted is such a unique and clever book that I’m not sure Levine will ever top it. It was the equivalent of a lightning strike: unexpected, dazzling, and not something that can be replicated easily. However, lucky for us, Levine is an imaginative and skilled writer who is more than capable of producing delightful tales in the same spirit as her most famous book. That spirit being, of course, a richly imagined, once-upon-a-time kind of fantasy featuring resourceful, quick-thinking heroines. Fans of all things fairy tale will be glad to know that Two Castles fits squarely into Levine’s mold (without feeling like a re-tread) and is a welcome addition to her oeuvre.
Recommended for anyone seeking a middle grade mystery or fantasy novel, a book with a proactive heroine, or a story that features theatre and acting as a plot device.
If you like Two Castles, or Levine’s writing in general, you might try Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy.
Review copy provided by publisher.