Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book Review: A Tale of Two Castles

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.

**ARC Courtesy of NetGalley

Goodreads: 3.5/5 stars

I’ll go ahead and round up for this one—4 stars. This book was tooooo cute! The story is about Elodie, a farm girl who is sent away to the town of Two Castles to become a mansioner. Basically, an actress. But on the boat trip to Two Castles, she’s told they no longer take mansioners for free. So, Elodie has to figure out what to do when she arrives. She can’t return home because she doesn’t have enough money, and the money she does have is stolen by a thieving cat. There, on the street, Elodie meets Meenore, a wise dragon. Meenore proposes that she become a dragon’s assistant and help him figure out who is after the Count (who also happens to be an ogre). Elodie finds herself in the middle of a murder attempt on the ogre, and the king of Two Castles. But when all fingers point to her as the killer, can she outwit the town and reveal who really tried to poison the leaders?

I’ve never read any of Gail Carson Levine’s books before, but I will say this does have a magical feel to it. Definitely for younger readers, but still an enjoyable read. The story started out a little too slow for me, but soon picked up pace. I do like how the monsters were perceived to be the bad guys, but turned out to be good. That was a nice little twist. I also like how this was left open so Meenore, Elodie and the Count could have even more adventures.

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