I found this book quite by accident. I was with my children at the library, killing time while my wife worked on Christmas projects. My kids had already found books and had settled in on couches to read, so I thought I would join them. This book caught my eye, and remembering Jessica Day George had been an interesting guest on Writing Excuses, I decided to pass the time with it until time to home.
I ended up checking it out, taking it home with me, and rushing it to the head of the line of all the other books I’m currently reading. It’s light and enormously fun, and not a long read. And it has one of the best openings I’ve read in a while. Within two pages George has set the scene so well you know you’re in for a treat.
The story is about three royal children (or rather two royal teenagers and a child) who are forced to defend themselves and their castle when their parents disappear. Only the castle is a magical structure with a mind of its own, and it clearly loves Celia, the youngest. I don’t recall a story where a building is a main character, but this is one, and Day does it well. Well enough that I didn’t realize until after I was finished reading it that Day never really explains why the castle, which clearly could, doesn’t just kick all the bad guys out and save the day itself.
But I was having so much fun with the book that there was never really much opportunity for that question to raise itself until I was finished. It’s not every day a book helps me recapture some of my childish sense of wonder, but this one did. She’s got a sequel out, I understand. I’ll have to put it on my list.
It’s middle-grade fiction, or perhaps younger. There’s no swearing, very little violence, and not much intense danger. I plan to read it to my kids soon.