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CASTLE HANGNAIL by Ursula Vernon Kirkus Star


by Ursula Vernon ; illustrated by Ursula Vernon

Age Range: 10 - 16

Pub Date: April 21st, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-8037-4129-4
Publisher: Dial

Castle Hangnail is in desperate need of a new Master; 12-year-old budding Wicked Witch Molly might be just the person to fill the position.

The crumbling castle is in real danger of being decommissioned, and the resident minions fear the loss of their longtime home. It’s fairly easy to overlook the fact that the short, rather kindly girl in the witchy boots seems a somewhat unusual candidate for the job. That might just be because she stole the invitation to apply from a nasty young sorceress and is, therefore, something of a fraud. In a droll, ironic style that fans of Terry Pratchett will appreciate, Vernon (Dragonbreath, 2012, etc.) creatively—even joyfully—explores the well-worn trope of young teen witchcraft. Molly, fiercely defensive of her new home and loyal followers, is just beginning to understand the nature of her power. Her successes are engaging, hard-won and fully believable. Characters as unusual as a steaming teapot spirit, mother-and-son Minotaurs who ably manage the castle kitchen, a near-empty suit of armor, a Frankenstein-like castle manager and a lively stuffed doll that does all the sewing come fully, sometimes hilariously to life. Illustrations liberally sprinkled throughout add yet another satisfying dimension.

An appealing protagonist, lots of action, clever, witty writing, witchcraft and evildoers who get nothing but what they deserve—what’s not to love? (Fantasy. 10-16)