Saturday, April 2, 2011

Two is Better Than One?

A Tale of Two Castles

Written by: Gail Carson Levine

Release: May 1, 2011 by HarperCollins

Summary: Mysteries abound, especially in Two Castles.

A handsome cat trainer, black-and-white cats, thieves on four legs and two, suspicious townsfolk, a greedy king, a giddy princess, a shape-shifting ogre, a brilliant dragon. Which is the villainous whited sepulcher?

Elodie journeys to the town of Two Castles to become a mansioner—an actress—but luck is against her. She is saved from starvation by the dragon Meenore, who sends her on a dangerous mission inside the ogre's castle. There, disguised as a kitchen maid at an ogre's feast, she finds herself cast in the role of a lifetime and pitted against a foe intent on murder.

Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine weaves an entrancing tale of a fearsome ogre, a dragon detective, and a remarkable heroine, who finds friendship where she least expects it, learns that there are many ways to mansion, and discovers that goodness and evil come in all shapes and sizes.

I’m pretty sure that I was confused for about ¼ of this novel trying to figure out exactly what was going on. Maybe I was just having a slow moment, but I’m almost embarrassed that it took me as long as it did. However, once I fully clasped on to the entire story, I was swept away with the mystery and the magic. In that way, this is your classic Gail Carson Levine novel. I think that a part of the reason it took me so long to get into this story was because I was figuring on more of an Ella Enchanted type read – something I have to stop doing while reading Levine’s books.

This novel was really cute. I liked following Elodie on her adventures and seeing how she grows up during them. Her interaction with the other characters in this novel is endearing and I liked how she didn’t always take things at face value even though it showed her naiveté.

I loved the mystery of this novel (once I was clued into it). And the ending threw me for a complete loop; I never saw that coming. That alone is reason enough to read this novel. When the big reveal came I was all ‘what the hell?’ and then I had to re-read the scene just to make sure I read it right the first time.

This is a great MG novel. It has everything that a reader could want from this genre and you can be sure that a novel by Levine will always be worth reading. I’m giving this novel a 7/10.

A big thank you to netGalley and HarperCollins for allowing me an advanced readers copy of this novel.

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