4.5 out of 5 Robots!
Title: A Tale of Two Castles
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Reading Level: Middle-Grade
Release: May 10, 2011
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
My Copy: Publisher
From Good Reads: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 was excited to read this book because I really like Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted and Two Princessess of Bamarre. She generally writes of heroines overcoming obstacles and exceeding expectations. A Tale of Two Castles is no exception.
Our heroine, Elodie (or Lodie), is a poor farm girl who travels to the big city of Two Castles to become an apprentice. Her parents want her to become a weaver, but she wants to become a mansioner - an actress. Unfortunately, she does not have enough money to pay for an apprenticeship and what little money she had was stolen by a thieving cat. Lodie meets a dragon called Meenore, who takes her in as an assistant to proclaim the dragon's cunning and powers of deduction/induction. She also meets Count Jonty Um, an ogre who lives in one of the two castles of Two Castles. The townfolk do not like the ogre and keep cats who are said to be able to get the ogre to shapeshift into a mouse. The ogre hires Meenore and Lodie to find out who is stealing and poaching from him and to find his missing dog. Lodie acts as a kitchen maid to help sniff out who is behind it all. She soon discovers that the mystery is much deeper and more dangerous than they thought.
This is a good and fast read. Lodie is a fun character. She is a little spitfire and little prone to letting her imagination get away from her. She is constantly questioning and imagining possible scenarios that could occur. She reminds me a little of Anne of Green Gables in that way. The other characters are all very unique. I especially like Meenore the dragon. IT (since only a dragon knows its gender) is just like a dragon should be: proud, cunning, delighted with its own reasoning.
The book is actually more Sherlockian mystery than fairytale. Meenore plays the Sherlock type well. It is a fun twist on your standard fairytale book. You discover the mystery along with Lodie and through her thoughts you begin to unravel the mystery as the plot thickens. The book is geared towards middle school readers, I believe, but I think anyone who likes Karen Cushman or Gail Carson Levine would definitely like this book. Levine writes great characters who are complex and never all that they seem on the surface. Some YA authors could take a page from Levine as far as character development goes. I definitely recommend this book - especially to young girls!
Purchase your copy at Amazon!