Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review: A Tale of Two Castles - Gail Carson Levine

Synopsis: Elodie's parents, simple farm-folk in Lahnt, send her to the magnificent city of Two Castles to apprentice as a weaver. But head-strong, sensible Elodie has other ideas. She wants to become a mansioner - an actress - and she's willing to do whatever it takes to get an apprenticeship.

Despite her obvious skill, Elodie's dreams are quickly crushed when the mansioner master sends her away. But Meenore, Masterness of deduction and induction - and the resident dragon - takes Elodie in as an assistant. Elodie isn't sure what such a life will bring, and she certainly isn't prepared to go disguised as a kitchen maid in Count Jonty Um's (the resident ogre's) castle and solve the mystery of who's threatening his life - and who kidnapped his dog?

Review: A Tale of Two Castles (which, by the way, has no resemblance to Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities) isn't what I expected - and I mean that in a good way. I love Gail Carson Levine's stories. I love how she's inspired by old fairy tales (in this case, Puss in Boots) and how witty and self-reliant her heroines are. And I love how she actually weaves a plot into love stories. I was expecting A Tale of Two Castles to be like all her others.

It isn't; not exactly. Elodie is certainly witty and self-reliant. I like her just as much as Ella (from Ella Enchanted). But this isn't a romantic story; it's a mystery story with a dragon version of Sherlock Holmes. It was quite unexpected and thoroughly enjoyable. Jonty Um is not your typical ogre. He's polite and quiet, appreciates honesty, and not green or particularly ugly. And Menoore is just awesome. He (in Elodie's world, one does not refer to a dragon as he or she, but IT. However, I maintain that Menoore is a he) hit an immediate chord of likableness with me, and being a Sherlockian, I could appreciate his deduction and induction abilities.

A Tale of Two Castles comes highly recommended. I was pleasantly surprised by this new type of story and I'm thoroughly glad that I bought it.

Overall Rating: 

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