Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tuesdays at the Castle

When I picked up Tuesdays at the Castle last year before its release date in October, I thought it looked vaguely entertaining. It was about a princess, after all. But it didn't make it into my immediate next list because it was middle school fiction. As I've said in previous reviews, I'm not so fond of middle school fiction because about half of what I read in that age group is, plainly, boring. Jessica Day George's novel, however, is not. Instead, it's the perfect example of good middle school fiction, focusing on adventure rather than romantic interests.

Castle Glower is magical. It picks its own kings, and so far, the castle favors Prince Rolf, as shown by the fact that it moved his quarters right next to the throne room. But it's his sister Princess Celie that the castle seems to have a special connection with. Celie likes to draw blueprints of the castle, a task made more difficult when the castle adds new rooms on a whim, often on Tuesdays. But perhaps because of her interest, the castle responds to her wishes in ways it will not with anyone else.

When the king and queen are ambushed and appear to be dead, Celie's idyllic days of mapping rooms for fun are cut short. The princess and her siblings find themselves fighting for their place in the kingdom when two rival princes show up on their doorstep, the castle remaining mysteriously quiet as to what to do with them. As a sinister plot unfolds around them, they must believe in the castle's goodness and do what they can to help the castle oust the intruders before the intruders figure out how to silence the castle and its royal children for good.

It might sound a little hokey, but the story was honestly a lot of fun. It had great sibling interaction, a fascinating magical element, real danger, and loveable, well-imagined minor characters. Above all, in a clear battle of good versus evil, good wins (I'm not going to pretend that's a spoiler, because isn't that what we all want and expect?). And there's no angst-y teenagers or steamy romance threatening to overtake the plot. Though I love my young adult books, it's refreshing to take a break from all that every once in a while.

Four stars for Tuesdays at the Castle. Give it to your middle schoolers to read. Read it yourself!

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