One of my favorite genres and one that is the easiest for me to push aside is middle grade fiction. This year to make sure I get a little more children's and young adult fiction I thought I would designate the first Monday of every month Middle Grade Monday. While a lot of my picks this year are classics I am trying to branch out a little bit and read new or at least recent releases. This month's book is The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron. This book is one I picked up on a whim because the library had it on the end cap and I liked the cover.
The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron -
Description: 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 hawthorne 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?
My Thoughts: This was a fun super speedy read that lacked any real impact. The story itself had a fairy tale quality with the mysterious castle and the boy who lives there. The castle is grand, the gardens are amazing and there is just a bit of magic hiding in the corners. I loved that Tess and Max used what there father had taught them to help them out when things got out of hand.
I did enjoy reading this but it's a bit flat. None of the stories are developed enough for them to have any real impact and I didn't really feel like the main story was explored as much as it could have been. There's nothing wrong with it but it's not as good as it feels like it could be. If you have a child that loves to read this is one to put on their library stack. I think children from 8 and up would enjoy it but I don't think it's one that will stick. Just judging from my own kids I feel like this would appeal more to girls than boys. I don't think the Tornado would get caught up as much in the idea of the castle as my girls would have.
If you're thinking the author's name sounds familiar she is in fact Nora Ephron's sister.
Bottom line: If your kid discovers this at the library than I think they'd enjoy it and it's not painful for adults to read. However, it lacks the development and the magic to really make this a read that sticks.