Kirkus Reviews QR Code
A TALE OF TWO CASTLES by Gail Carson Levine Kirkus Star

A TALE OF TWO CASTLES

By Gail Carson Levine

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: May 10th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-122965-7
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

A thoroughly delicious romp from the author of Ella Enchanted (1997). Before Lodie leaves the island of Lahnt, her mother warns her to beware ogres, dragons and “the whited sepulcher” (a villain who appears virtuous) in the big town of Two Castles; she inevitably meets all three, encountering danger and friendship where least expected. Lodie’s parents send her away to become a weaver, but the girl plans to become a “mansioner” (actor), like her brother Albin. When she cannot secure a free apprenticeship, she finds herself working for the enigmatic dragon Masteress Meenore, a food vendor and amateur detective. Lodie soon employs her imitative and observational mansioning skills—and Meenore’s lessons in “deduction, induction, and common sense”—to investigate thefts and threats at ogre Count Jonty Um’s royalty-crowded castle. When local prejudices and political intrigue throw the court into an uproar, Lodie must solve the many mysteries or face execution. Fairy tales and classic myths are cleverly woven into the story, but the gritty medieval conditions—poverty, hunger, lice and cruel nobles—provide the dramatic tension and realistic motivation for the adventurous and intelligent Lodie. The plot is winningly unpredictable, the characters easy to relate to, the humor subtle and the action well-paced. Newbery Honor–winner Levine has once again breathed new life into old stories. (Fantasy. 9-12)