Book Review: The Castle in the Mist

Posted February 6, 2017 by Kara in book review, Kara / 0 Comments

Book Review: The Castle in the MistThe Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron
Published by Philomel Books on February 7th 2017
Genres: middle grade, fantasy
Pages: 192
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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three-half-stars

Tess and Max travel behind the walls of a magical castle where wishes really do come true—if the hawthorn trees don’t get you first.
Tess and Max are sent to the English countryside for the summer and long for some excitement. So when Tess, out for a walk alone, happens upon an ornately carved gate and an old brass key, she decides to see what’s inside. To her amazement, she discovers the grounds of a castle filled with swans, bullfrogs, a hedge maze, an old-fashioned carnival, and a boy, William, just her age. William invites Tess back, and she can’t wait to return, this time with her brother.
But strange things happen at William’s castle. Carnival games are paid for in wishes, dreams seem to come alive, and then there’s William’s warning: Beware the hawthorn trees. A warning that chills Tess to the bone.
In the end it’s up to Tess to save her family and her friends from being trapped forever in the world beyond the hawthorns—but will one wish be enough?

This read quite a bit younger than I was expecting when I requested it, but it was still a really great tale. However, I probably wouldn’t recommend reading this if you are an adult. The words are too simple and there is not a lot of depth. But if I had read this as a child, I would have been in love with this book. In fact, I think this would be a great book to read aloud with your kids before bedtime. It has that lovely, peaceful, magical quality that will send the little ones to sleep with good dreams.

An older sister and a younger brother meet a strange family after going through a magic gate. They live in a castle in the mist, surrounded by a moat, a hedge maze, a statue garden, and a magical carousel. But what is the family hiding?

That’s the gist. So here’s the thing. The language is pretty simple since it’s written for the smaller kiddos, but there was so much there that could have been expanded upon. The author did a great job with the scenes concerning the carousel, but there was a hedge maze on the property and it was hardly featured. Same with the statue garden of Greek Gods and Goddesses. It’s a problem I find fairly often with middle grade books. Too much telling and not enough showing. I wish the author would have spent more time expanding upon the great world she envisioned.

The Castle in the Mist is a simple story and it kind of lacks a focus, which is odd since it’s so short, but it’s a tale of friendship and family, mostly. I liked it, but I really just wanted to finish so I could read something else, and that’s because of the age it skews for, which is not the author’s fault. I am not the intended audience for this book. But I will be sending it to my husband’s classroom. His advanced students will find it enjoyable, I am sure.

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