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A Tale of Two Castles

A Tale of Two Castles

Escrito por Gail Carson Levine

Narrado por Sarah Coomes


A Tale of Two Castles

Escrito por Gail Carson Levine

Narrado por Sarah Coomes

avaliações:
4/5 (26 avaliações)
Comprimento:
8 horas
Lançado em:
May 10, 2011
ISBN:
9781455808366
Formato:
Audiolivro

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Descrição

Elodie journeys to the town of Two Castles to become a mansioner - an actress - but the master of the troupe turns her away. Brilliant dragon Meenore takes her in, then sends her on a dangerous mission within an ogre's castle. There, disguised as a kitchen maid, she plays the role of a lifetime, pitted against a foe intent on murder.

Black-and-white cats, a handsome cat trainer, a greedy king, a giddy princess, a shape-shifting ogre, a brilliant dragon . . . Elodie must discover which of them is kind, which is cruel, and, most of all, which is the one who deserves her trust.

Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine weaves an entrancing tale of a fearsome ogre, a dragon detective, and a remarkable heroine who finds friendship where she least expects it, learns that there are many ways to mansion, and discovers that goodness and evil come in all shapes and sizes.
Lançado em:
May 10, 2011
ISBN:
9781455808366
Formato:
Audiolivro

Também disponível como...

Também disponível como livroLivro


Sobre o autor

Gail Carson Levine's first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a Newbery Honor Book. Levine's other books include Ever, a New York Times bestseller; Fairest, a Best Book of the Year for Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, and a New York Times bestseller; Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults; The Wish; The Two Princesses of Bamarre; A Tale of Two Castles; and the six Princess Tales books. She is also the author of the nonfiction books Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly and Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink, as well as the picture books Betsy Who Cried Wolf and Betsy Red Hoodie. Gail Carson Levine and her husband, David, live in a two-centuries-old farmhouse in the Hudson Valley of New York State.


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Avaliações de leitores

  • (4/5)
    Elodie arrives in a new town, penniless but determined to land on her feet. She catches the eye of the resident dragon and becomes IT's apprentice and helps solve the mystery of who wants to kill the town ogre. Elodie is particularly appealing because she never lets fear get in the way of what she wants to accomplish.
  • (2/5)
    I enjoy Gail Carson Levine's books, but this one was just boring. The story just crawled, and more time was spent trying to get me to visualize this world instead of focusing on the the plot or characters. I know Levine is capable of so much more, so I'm a little puzzled as to why this book was so disappointing.
  • (2/5)
    This was a bit boring. I couldn't finish it. Next!
  • (4/5)
    I grew up on a healthy diet of Little House on the Prairie, Dear America, and Gail Carson Levine. I have loved her books since I first read The Two Princesses of Bamarre (which continues to be my favorite), and Ella Enchanted (a very close second). I was worried that when I read this new book of hers, I would either love it too much, or not like it enough. That's the problem with being successful in life; people come to expect certain things from you. I wasn't sure how this one would hold up to her other stories.I shouldn't have worried.With A Tale of Two Castles, Gail Carson Levine has created a world where children can choose their destiny by choosing to apprentice, cats are kept as deterrents of ogres, and dragons are great detectives when problems present themselves. The world is interesting, and the characters are charming and strong. I really like the main character, Elodie. She seemed a lot older than twelve to me, but I don't see that as an issue. Her unique personality and her love of mansioning (playacting) gave the book quite a lot of its charm.The main theme of this book seemed to be overcoming stereotypes, or superstition. Levine does a good job of getting the message across through Elodie's observations of the citizens of Two Castles, and their reactions to the "monsters" that live among them. The citizens go from tolerant, to interested, to scared, to angry, and then to...well, you'll have to read it for that one. ;)This story is similar in feel to Levine's previous books, but it is definitely its own tale. The words themselves have more depth to them, giving the reader more to ponder as the story goes on. This story has more of a "super sleuth" feel to it, but it was very interesting to see how Elodie came her conclusions. I did figure out who the villain was pretty early in the story (I think other people will, too), but I didn't mind and was still interested to see how the story would work itself out.Overall, a highly enjoyable read!See the original review on my blog, The Reading FeverDisclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • (4/5)
    I love this story. With a saucy, headstrong young woman, a shape shifting ogre, and a many talented dragon it would be tough not to find something to enjoy in this book.
  • (4/5)
    The Little BookwormElodie is a spirited girl who only wants to become a mansioner, an actor, but is thwarted in her ambitions by her lack of money. So she becomes the assistant to Meenore, a dragon skilled in logic and deduction. When the ogre hires the dragon to find out who is behind a strange turn of events at his castle, Meenore sends Elodie to be ITs eyes and ears. And Elodie learns about using her mansioning and logic talents for other purposes. Gail Carson Levine can tell a good tale. While some of her other books are retellings of fairy tales (Ella Enchanted), this one has a few aspects (Puss in Boots) but is a wholly original book. And it is a very cute book. I loved all the fairy tale touches and the characters were delightful. I thought the solution to the mystery was easy, but that is because there tends to be a pattern in Levine's fairy tale books that gave it away. I do wish there was more of the dragon and the ogre because I loved both characters, but I'm wondering if they are going to be more books with Elodie and her friends.
  • (4/5)
    A wonderfully imaginative book jam packed full of charm. Gail Carson Levine's crafted a fun, exciting MG book that's entertaining for all ages but doesn't talk down to its intended age group. If you're part of the generation that was brought up on Ella Enchanted, The Princess Bride and The Goonies, you'll definitely have a lot of fun with this book. Elodie is a fun and surprisingly charismatic narrator who I think a lot of kids will enjoy reading about and the world Levine has created has something for everyone: ogres, dragons, cat thieves, actresses, mystery, humour, wit and a whole lot of charm.

    I'll probably write a more detailed review when I'm not swamped under with exam work. It's a little predictable but the journey is so much fun that you won't care too much. It's definitely a fun little book I think a lot of kids will enjoy, and definitely a few bigger kids too.
  • (2/5)
    I enjoy Gail Carson Levine's books, but this one was just boring. The story just crawled, and more time was spent trying to get me to visualize this world instead of focusing on the the plot or characters. I know Levine is capable of so much more, so I'm a little puzzled as to why this book was so disappointing.
  • (4/5)
    Small town girl goes off to the big city where she meets all the characters her mother warned her about. Mystery, adventure, drama, poverty and cruelty are all woven into this beautifully written fairy tale. Oh, and don't forget the dragon!
  • (4/5)
    A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine is about Elodie making her mark in the world. She leaves her farming village to cross the sea to Two Castles where she hopes to apprentice to become a mansioner (actress). Unfortunately, the apprenticeship rules have changed and she doesn't have the money to return home.Elodie, who hates being called Lodie, quickly finds her bad luck getting worse. Like September in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, she ends up finding a very unusual mentor, in the form of a dragon, Meenore.Dragons in this world are too mysterious for one to presume ITs gender. They are always referred to as IT or in the case of a mentor and student relationship, as masteress. The dragon's ambiguous gender and how it plays against traditional gender roles was an interesting aside to the book.But things really take shape when Elodie is entrusted by the dragon to keep an eye on Jonty Um, the lord and Ogre of Two Castles. There is a threat against his life that takes the classic Puss in Boots tale and turns it on its head (in a far more clever way than Shrek 2 did).The friendship between Jonty Um and Meenore and their interest in Elodie as a student and friend is what makes A Tale of Two Castles something special.The only detractor to this well crafted tale is the Princess's numerous oaths. She comes off sounding like she was possessed by Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson. As much as j'adore Georgia and her unique take on the English language, it doesn't working coming out of the mouth of an otherwise refined princess of the realm.
  • (2/5)

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

    Were I younger--say about ten or twelve years old--I think I would have adored this book. However, it lacks the polish I've seen in Gail Carson Levine's earlier work, particularly Ella Enchanted and The Two Princesses of Bamarre. In particular, I had a hard time following event causation (things happened for no discernible reason, and often were not explained at all), many of the descriptions seemed aimed at showing off the world-building/culture rather than furthering the story, and the characterisation of the side characters seemed based largely on quirks in their speech (repeated words or phrases, particular sounds, etc). The net result, for me, was an overall inability to connect with the story in any meaningful way. Instead of being immersed in the story, I was removed from the action as I read.

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

  • (5/5)
    Elodie left home for Two Castles to become a weavers apprentice - or so her family thought. She wanted to be a mansioner (actor) instead. Elodie finds out, only after she has left home, that there are no free apprenticeships anymore and the story follows her as she tries to figure out what do in a foreign place with no family.

    On her way we meet an assortment of interesting characters. Goodwife Celeste and her goodman Twah, who cannot help her while she is in Two Castles. Master Dess, who has a fondness for animals. Master Thiel, a cat trainer, whose cats hates Count Jonty Um, the ogre in the land who lives in a castle. Meenore the dragon, who loves to induce and deduce as well as the king and princess who lives in the other castle in Two Castles.

    There is thieving, acting, cultural differences, dragons, ogres, glutton kings, fickle princesses all in the middle of a mystery. Someone is trying to hurt Count Jonty Um, and through a series of events (whether unfortunate the reader will have to figure out themselves) Elodie is left trying to figure out who the culprit is.

    This story is a quick read, and I would recommend it to any parent who might want to read with their child. Gail Carson Levine describes her world in detail and there are times in which I felt as though I was right there with Elodie, walking through the streets, looking at the stalls, observing. The characters are lovable, I especially loved Meenore and Princess Renn, the way they were written, it felt as though I could almost see them, each with their different mannerisms, through the pages.

    The ending - though somewhat easy to figure out - was still delightful and fun. It’s a lovely fairy tale for anyone, young or old.

    [arc via Net Galley]
  • (4/5)
    Elodie leaves her home and family to travel across the water to become an apprentice. Unfortunately, her family lives too far away to have gotten the bad news--it is no longer possible to become an apprentice without paying your prospective master in coin. Elodie doesn't have enough money but is determined that she will manage to become an apprentice mansioner (an actor--not what her parents had in mind, as they wanted her to become a weaver) anyway. Almost as soon as she is back on solid ground, Elodie finds herself in the middle of intrigue. Her one copper coin is stolen by one of the many cats found in the city of Two Castles. Was it trained to do so, or did it get lucky? Before she knows it, Elodie finds herself hired as assistant to the city dragon, Meenore. Still unsure as to whether or not she can trust her new master, Elodie is assigned a new job--being the dragon's eyes and ears in the castle of ogre Count Jonty Um, who is the apparent victim of thieves, poachers, and possibly in danger of much more. Who is trying to hurt the ogre, and why? Who, if anyone, can Elodie trust? Is there any hope for her dream of becoming a mansioner, or is it time for her to find a new dream?

    Gail Carson Levine has written a new tale of magic and mystery with A Tale of Two Castles. Readers are quickly drawn into a new fantastical world where many things and people are not quite what they seem. The ending leaves hope that there could be a sequel--or two, or three--for us to continue solving mysteries along with Elodie and her two new friends, watching as the plucky heroine continues to grow in her newfound talents and abilities. This novel is geared toward middle-grade readers, especially those who enjoy fantasy and mystery stories. Anyone who loved Ella Enchanted (the book, not the movie--ugh!) should enjoy this story of a determined heroine who makes the best of what life throws at her. (Review based on reading of a NetGalley advanced digital copy.)
  • (2/5)
    My only prior experience with Gail Carson Levine was Ella Enchanted, which, honestly, I did not like. I had seen the movie first and thought it was better (if not necessarily good). Still, I wanted to give Levine another chance because I know so many people who adore her books. Plus, I love fairy tales and she does tons of those.

    A Tale of Two Castles fits into that mold; it is a revisionist, postmodern telling of Puss in the Boots. The ogre who can change into any animal is there, as is the miller's son who inherited no property and uses his cat to make money dishonestly. However, the good guys in the fairy tale are the bad guys here, and vice versa. The ogre is vulnerable to cats, peculiarly so. Apparently, cats wish so hard for him to become a mouse that he cannot help doing so. I think that's ridiculous, because if it works for cats, a whole bunch of people, if they could agree, ought to be able to wish him into a particular form as well.

    Another thing that annoyed me about this story was its repetitiveness. There were certain words and concepts that Levine kept using, so much so that it rather felt like some sort of lesson intended to teach children the meaning of terms like 'whited sepulchre.' A quirk of her fantasy world was that dragons were meant to be genderless, at least so far as humans are allowed to know, so they are to be called IT. Not It or it, IT. Ugh! The dragon's laugh also irritated me: 'enh enh enh.'

    The dragon was still, perhaps, a better character than Elodie. She does not seem to have been very well conceived, as some of her traits are remarkably inconsistent. She begins as the starry-eyed arrival, a stupid farm girl, with no skill for anything but acting. She is trusting of people who, from my point of view, are obviously hiding something and mistrusting of those who only want to help her. The only scenes where I liked her at all were those where she mansioned (especially when she acted out Thisbe with an apple as her Pyramus).

    The moment that would have made me throw the book across the room, if I weren't reading it as an e-book on my computer, was when suddenly Elodie, country bumpkin, knew everything about poisons ever: "I sniffed my bowl. The scent was faint but detectable: eastern wasp powder...The poison acted in an hour or two, caused chills, fever, tremors, a tight throat, death" (190). Really? There was no attempt at an explanation for why Elodie would ever know this.

    Also awkward was Elodie's relationship with the ogre. She says that she loves him, but I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a friend love or a they're going to get married someday love. I also don't know how that would work and I have no idea how old he is. So, I was mostly just creeped out by the possibility.

    A Tale of Two Castles had a lot of possibility, but was very poorly executed, with uneven characters, use of diction that felt like a vocabulary lesson, and unclear resolution.
  • (5/5)
    A Tale of Two Castles: This book is about a 12 year old girl named Ehlodie. Ehlodie leaves her home, and family to travel to the land of Lepai. She comes wanting to become a mansioner ( actress) Things don't go as planned, and Ehlodie ends up alone, and with no work. But then a dragon named Meenore offers her work. Accepting Elohdie finds herself deep in a mystery. Adventure/Fantasy I really liked this book. I loved the story line it was full of adventure and mystery. And each of the characters were unique and different. This book is about a mystery. Someone wants the ogre Count Junty Um dead, but who? The one thing I would say that I disliked the most of this book was that it was long. Sometimes it just seemed too long, and took awhile to finish. Still if it wasn't then alot of good parts would have to be left out. I reccomend this book to anyone who loves adventure, fantasy, and mystery.
  • (3/5)
    Just finished this one and was highly disappointed. I love Ella Enchanted so much and reread it often. I was expecting something similar. I kept waiting for this story to get better but it never did. It just seemed to be a series of random events rather than a plot. I was less than captivated. I am about to start another of Gail Carson Levine's books and I am hoping that this one was just a fluke and that most of her writing is as good as Ella Enchanted.
  • (4/5)
    Fun story, but not as good as some of her earlier books.
  • (5/5)
    My Thoughts: Once again Gail Carson Levine has created a masterpiece! This is an amazing story! The characters are fantastic and the story is clever and intriguing. Elodie is a wonderful heroine. Meenore is incredible. Count Jonty Um is more human than most, especially for a shape-shifting ogre. The King is awful (but he's supposed to be). This is a story of courage, friendship, misconception, misdirection, and the value of goodness and honesty. My favorite thing about this story is that it shows that every once in awhile when life takes an unexpected turn and you end up somewhere you didn't think you wanted to be, what you find there is home.
  • (5/5)
    I will start by stating how much I love Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine’s first novel. I read a few of her other novels, but that was before high school. I remember being less-than-impressed with the subsequent novels, but I think that may be directly related to Ella Enchanted being one of my favorite books from middle school.I thought one of the keys to the awesomeness of Ella Enchanted was that it was written in a very mature style, but was still accessible to late-elementary and middle school readers. This book gets very close to that same style. It is complex enough to be entertaining to older readers, while being straightforward enough for younger readers. Plus, this book has another interesting stylistic twist– the humor and world-building is similar to Patricia C. Wrede’s Dealing With Dragons, another of my favorite books when I was younger.This book uses the themes of unreliability and logic with an impeccable flair. We start the book with Elodie moving to Two Castles with her mother’s advice to not trust strangers echoing in her head. Her paranoia dissipates as she meets people and makes new friends, but it’s still present. Once the reader starts to trust too, Levine twists the plot in a way that surprised me. Logic is introduced fairly early on. Mastress Meenore, the dragon of Two Castles, is an expert at using deductive and inductive reasoning, and Elodie begins to pick it up as well. By the end of the story, Elodie’s logic is one of her two greatest strengths, with the other being her acting skills. I try not to throw around the term “strong heroine” lightly, but Elodie has earned that title in my opinion.Rating: 5 stars– It’s not Ella Enchanted, but as that’s one of my 5+ star books of all time, I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. On it’s own, the book stands out for having an awesome heroine and a surprising plot.
  • (3/5)
    Gail Carson Levine is one of THE authors fairy tale readers turn to and list as a Master Writer. In fact, the only children’s book on my Top Five Favorites list is Ella Enchanted. Granted, I’m sure a lot of that is the nostalgia talking, but there it remains. When I heard that Levine had a new middle-grade novel coming out, I leapt to read it and saved it for the final Fairy Tale Fortnight Stop. While the novel wasn’t the best of the fourteen I’ve read, it was adorable and took me back to my fairy tale roots. I would have loved this novel when I was younger!While A Tale of Two Cities may not be the most profound fairy tale novel, it’s utterly charming. Elodie is a plucky heroine full of spunk. After leaving home to become an apprentice in Two Castles, her only copper is stolen from her and she’s left with no money at all. Rather than wallow, however, she sets off to become a mansioner (actress), but when she’s refused as an apprentice, she winds up working for a dragon named Meenore. Most of the villagers are afraid of the dragon—and even more petrified when it comes to the ogre, Count Jonty Um, living in one of the city’s two castles. Not our Elodie, however. After an initial burst of fear (and who could blame her), she realizes that these “monsters” are kind souls who aren’t given enough credit. Yes, there is a hidden message in this novel: It’s what’s on the inside that counts—and Meenore and Count Jonty Um have hearts of gold. Levine initially based the story off the legend of Puss in Boots, which, if you recall, has Puss heading off to the castle to challenge the ogre to shape-shift. Count Jonty Um can also shape-shift, and Two Castles is full of cats that would like nothing more than to see him turn into a mouse. When this horrible occurrence happens, Elodie finds herself with a full-blown mystery on her hands. Who is trying to get rid of County Jonty Um, and why would anyone poison the king of the second castle in Two Castles? As Meenore’s apprentice, she’s expected to learn “Deduction, induction, and common sense.” Can the two discover the truth behind what’s going on before it’s too late?Mixing a mystery with a fantasy in such a way was a brave move on Levine’s part, and a break from her normal fare. She does so with ease, however, creating an engaging mystery that will leave readers looking at every character through new eyes as they try to figure out “whodunit.” There’s a lot of room for future adventures with Meenore and Elodie, which would be welcome stories in the fantasy genre. In addition to the mystery, one of my favorite things was the way Levine created Meenore. I haven’t read many novels with dragons, but the ones I have are all vastly different from one another. One of my favorite lines from the novel came when Elodie saw Meenore’s wings for the first time: “The wing was a mosaic of flat triangles, each tinted a different hue, no color exactly the same. Black lines of sinew held the triangles together, as lead holds the glass in a stained-glass window. The tinted skin, in every shade of pink, blue yellow, and violet, was gossamer thin. I saw raindrops bead on the other side” (pg 45). In addition, Levine uses Meenore’s smoke when describing the dragon’s mood, from dull scales when annoyed to bright pink smoke and red scales when angry, to gray smoke for sadness and white spirals of smoke when happy. Seeing such detail describe a dragon’s mood was a visual treat that I always looked forward to.
  • (3/5)
    Previously I had read Levine's book Fairest and really did not enjoy it. A number of people told me to give Levine another chance, so when I saw this book up at NetGalley.com I decided to give it a read. It was an okay book. While I liked it a little better than Fairest I still thought it was pretty boring, that the plot was over-simplified, and the characters very two-dimensional.Elodie is twelve years old and is sent to the city to start her apprenticeship as a weaver. Of course Elodie has ideas of her own and instead of being a weaver wants to apprentice as a mansioner. Things never go as planned and Elodie finds herself instead serving as an assistant to the brilliant dragon Meenore. Together Elodie and Meenore must solve the mystery of who is out to get the shapeshifting Ogre that is the lord of the castle.More than anything this book is a mystery; the dragon and the ogre give some fantasy elements to the story but not much. Elodie is a plucky twelve year old who thinks she can do whatever she wants. She does a pretty good job of it, but comes across as a bit two-dimensional. Her story does not seem at all realistic and things tend to go her way more often than not. Elodie never dwells on the bad aspects of things that happen to her and doesn't seem to fully realize the implications of anything that happens to her. While this gives the book a positive feel; it also sends a false message that if you wander blindly into situations you will be rewarded.The dragon Meenore starts off as a intriguing character but in the end doesn't have any more depth than Elodie. In fact all of the characters in this book seem to be more like character sketches than actual thinking, feeling characters. They are all a bit blah.The plot is simplistic and the outcome easy to predict. None of the characters are ever in very dire situations and I didn't feel all that engaged in the story at any point in time. The writing style itself is also very simplistic: characterization, vocabulary, plot, and world-building are all kept to a minimum. This gives the book a very child-like feel.Levine is trying to create a whole new world in this book, yet as the reader I had trouble grasping it. Some of the things added into the book made the world feel a bit contrived; like they were put in there just to make the world different and for no other reason than that. For example the characters always exchanging food and the way the characters (especially the princess) like to use "la" as a an exclamation. Things like that didn't really have a deeper purpose and didn't really add to the story.The story ends well enough. It looks like there is potential for future adventures between Meenore and Elodie. The story is suitable for all ages; but seems targeted at a middle grade or younger audience because of the simplicity.Overall the book was an okay read, but definitely nothing special. Everything about this story is boring and oversimplified. This could be a good read for young girls who are interested in mystery with a fantastical element to it. Personally I think there are much more interesting, complex, and rewarding middle grade fantasy novels out there. Princess Ben is one that was better and has some meat to it, Princess Academy is another great read. For middle grade readers other series such as Fablehaven, Harry Potter, and Percy and the Olympians create wonderful worlds with complex characters that actually assume that middle grade readers can handle complexity. I will not be reading anything from Levine in the future; I have concluded that her writing style and me just don't get along.
  • (5/5)
    With apologies to Charles Dickens…I’ve had a good stretch lately, where I’ve been reading at a ferocious pace. But I suddenly came to a grinding halt a few days ago. Nothing I was reading was inspiring me to keep turning pages. At times like that, a trick that often perks me up is to read a young adult book and I lose myself in pure story. That’s what I did, and it worked like a charm.Actually, I didn’t lose myself in A Tale of Two Castles right away. It took a while because at the start of the novel Gail Carson Levine is working mightily on the world building. The story opens with a goodbye. Twelve-year-old Elodie is saying goodbye to her parents, her home, and everything she’s ever known. She’s leaving her island and the farm and sailing off to the city of Two Castles which features—you guessed it—two castles. It is time for her to become apprenticed. “Mother and father’s instructions were to apprentice myself to a weaver, but I would not. Mansioner. I mouthed the word into the wind, the word that held my future. Mansioner.”Oh, I’m sorry; you don’t know what a mansioner is? I didn’t either. In the fairy-tale world that Carson Levine has created that’s the word for actor. A ship is a “cog.” You might wear a “kirtle” and exclaim, “Lambs and calves!” And you might run into a dragon or an ogre—but not if you can help it. In fact, Elodie’s father gave her this parting advice, “Stay clear of the crafty dragons and the shape-shifting ogres. Don’t befriend them!” Of course, a dragon and an ogre are indeed two of the very first beings she meets in Two Castles, but not before all her money is stolen by a cat and she’s insulted by a human. Scared, hungry, and alone, Elodie is in fairly dire straights. Her dream of becoming a mansioner appears to be ending before it has even started. So, when the dragon Meenore offers her a position as ITs (for Mastress Meenore alone knows ITs gender) assistant, what choice does Elodie have but follow IT to ITs lair?So begins a relations ship based on “deduction, induction, and common sense,” in which each learns from the other. Mastress Meenore has many trades including food service, heating, finder of lost objects, and unraveler of mysteries. So it is that the ogre, Count Jonty Um, comes to Meenore seeking help finding a lost dog. But it turns out that that is merely the beginning of his troubles. The ogre is in danger, and so Elodie becomes Meenore’s eyes and ears in his castle as they work to unravel the larger mystery.Carson Levine’s story is as magical as it is well-written. Her characters are colorful and endearing. I am a fortunate 42-year-old woman, that I can still be a child. Books like this are time portals for me. I was delighted with this story from start to finish and was sad to see it end. Happily, the end of this novel is the start of a new adventure, one that I shall look forward to reading.
  • (4/5)
    Whether or not you've read Gail Carson Levine before, you are still probably familiar with her work. Levine is probably most known for being the author of "Ella Enchanted", which is, of course, a cute movie starring Anne Hathaway.If you enjoyed "Ella Enchanted" (the book or the movie), you'll enjoy "A Tale of Two Castles."Young Elodie is sent from her home and across the sea to Two Castles, where her parents hope she'll train to be a weaver, but Elodie hopes to become an actress. When she arrives, however, her luck goes south almost right away.Her money is stolen by a cat and she isn't accepted into the actor's guild. But when the dragon Masteress Leenor offers Elodie a job as an assistant, Elodie finds herself headfirst on a dangerous mission inside an ogre's castle.Even though the ogre has a heart of gold, his ugly appearance has someone wanting him dead, and it's up to Elodie to find out who. Then there is the constant danger of the whited sepulcher --- someone beautiful who has a heart filled with evil.With dragons, ogres, thieving cats, and wide array different characters, "A Tale of Two Castles" shows young readers not to judge people based on appearances alone.Even though Elodie is 12 years old, she reads much older, and it's very easy to forget that she's so young. As much as I loved Elodie, I loved the dragon so much more. Leenor is witty, but with a cheeky sense of humor. The dragon teaches Elodie to use deduction and common sense to solve riddles and problems.Older readers may discover the villian right away, but it doesn't distract from the overall story. I think readers of all ages will enjoy this cute and fun read. Four stars.