A Tale of Two Castles
by Gail Carson Levine
Published by Harper
Copyright © 2011
Review by Anthony Kendrick
Move over Sherlock Holmes and Professor Watson; here comes Meenore and
Elodie. “A Tale of Two Castles” beautifully marries two genres, fantasy
and mystery, into a riveting tale of prejudice, theft, deception, and
Elodie is leaving her island home of Lahnt in
Lepai for it’s mainland capital city of Two Castles. She is twelve years
old and her parents are sending her away to find an apprenticeship with
a weaver. However, Elodie has other plans; she wants to join a
theatrical troupe and become an actress.
During her sea voyage
she learns that it is no longer free to become an apprentice. It will
cost her much more than what she has. Her task seems bound to fail, and
yet she does not have the money to turn around and go home. Fortunately
for her she is taken in by the dragon Meenore to be his assistant.
Meenore is a jack-of-all-trades. He will lend you his fire, his wings,
or his powers of induction and deduction as long as you are willing to
pay his price.
Elodie will now assist him in his business, and
one of her first tasks is to proclaim Meenore’s inimitable ability to
find what is lost and to reveal that which is not known. This job will
eventually lead to a mission into the Ogre’s castle where Elodie must
uncover a plot to murder his lordship. Elodie will find that evil does
not always wear fangs, claws, or blood red eyes. Yes, just as her mother
told her she must “beware the white sepulcher.”
“A Tale of Two
Castles” is unlike any fantasy that I’ve read. It is not overloaded with
magic and action. There are no magic spells and there are no fights to
the death. There is simply a dragon, an ogre, a king, a princess, a
smart and determined young girl, and a cast of townsfolk and servants.
However, no one is what they seem and little happens with striking
observableness. Meenore and Elodie must use their intellect to make
logical deductions, inductions, and inferences to get to the bottom of
Levine writes a tale that shows that you cannot judge
goodness or evil by mere appearance and outward kindness. In addition,
you never know where, or in what form, you are going to find a friend.
And lastly, if you are an ogre never get trapped in a room full of cats.
book is a wonderful gateway for youths not only into the world of
fantasy, but also into the world of logic and intellect. Youths need to
read about characters who are mentally superior, not just physically
superior, and Meenore and Elodie fit that bill well.