I've ogled many a Jessica Day George book at the library while browsing the YA section but they never seem to make their way home with me. When Bloomsbury offered this middle grade novel through NetGalley, I knew I had to request it. What I encountered in reading this book was a darling mystery adventure that will really capture your heart. I quickly fell in love with the setting, the characters, the villians, the magic, the adventure--everything!
Castle Glower isn't a normal castle--it's enchanted. It shifts its rooms and hallways to suit its mood and needs. It shifts to show favor. It does all of these things seemingly on its own, but it shows special favor to Princess Celie, our young MC who loves the castle eccentricities and spends much of her time creating an atlas of the castle. When Celie's parents and oldest brother go missing, she and her siblings, Rolf and Lilah, must work together with the castle to fight the bad guys who want to take over the kingdom, and Celie's knowledge of the castle comes in handy more than once.
Celie is an incredibly endearing main character. She's fiercely loyal to her family and deeply suspicious of outsiders. She's also really smart and thinks on her toes. She comes up with fabulous schemes to outsmart the bad guys and keep them guessing. It's easy to see why the castle favors her because she simply believes in its magic to its fullest extent.
Kids and adults alike will easily fall in love with this fun tale of daring tricks and escapes. I think kids will delight in the childrens' plans to outsmart and outwit the adults. It's the kind of novel that will let your imagination run wild, from the ever changing castle to the plans that kids devise. Magic is well-incorporated into the story and the castle really almost becomes a character in its own right. It's ever-changing rooms and it's secret passages are sure to strike a chord with kids. What kid doesn't imagine living and playing in secret passageways and spying on adults through secret peepholes hidden behind drapes? It's a kind of fantasy world that gives you a clear, beautiful picture of the surroundings but leaves a lot to your imagination.
The simplicity of the writing strikes a beautiful contrast to the imaginative landscape of the novel. This is a quick read because once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down, and Ms. George's writing simply flows wonderfully. One of the best things (for me) about this book is that it has a well-structured beginning, middle, and end--despite being the first in a series. Gone are the all-too-popular cliffhangers. This book will make readers want to pick up the next book because it's sure to be a fun, magical read--not simply because the author left them hanging in the previous book.