A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine.
Young Elodie embarks on her journey to Two Castles with the warning of her family ringing in her ears. Beware of ogres and dragons, and, even worse, the whited sepulcher. Elodie’s parents think she will apprentice to a weaver. But headstrong, independent Lodie dreams of becoming a mansioner – an actress. As she nears Two Castles, Elodie discovers that the free 10-year apprenticeships have been abolished. She does not have enough money to pay for an apprenticeship or to pay for the voyage home. What will she do? How will she survive?
Soon Elodie finds herself working as an assistant to a fearsome dragon, Meenore, and befriending the ogre, Count Jonty Um. Meenore is a detective of sorts, a fire-breathing Sherlock Holmes. Before she knows it, Elodie is undercover in Jonty Um’s castle, meeting the Princess and serving the King while trying to find the ogre’s missing dog and to protect Jonty Um himself. Can she master the skills of observation and reasoning from Meenore’s teaching in time to discover who is the whited sepulcher in Two Castles and save Count Jonty Um’s life?
Fans of Gail Carson Levine will enjoy this plucky heroine’s adventures. This is a fun tale complete with danger where the reader least expects it and warmth and caring from the very beings that seem most fearful on the surface. This charming book is ideally suited to middle grade readers. But the captivating story and its engaging characters will delight fantasy fans of all ages.
This review was also published on the Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Library Point Blog on May 19. Check out the other great book reviews there by staff and volunteers at the library.