A Tale of Two Castles

A Tale of Two Castles

4.6 64
by Gail Carson Levine, Sarah Coomes
     
 

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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.

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this fairy-tale whodunit, country girl Elodie's parents scrounge up fare to send her to the city of Two Castles, with instructions to find a weaver willing to take her on gratis for a 10-year apprenticeship. (Elodie, intent on joining a theatrical troupe, has other ideas.) Alas, months earlier the guilds abolished 10-year apprenticeships; now everyone must pay, and Elodie's one copper is stolen (by a cat) the moment she draws it from her purse. With no other prospects, she takes the only job she is offered: assistant to the dragon Meenore, who, in addition to its skills as mobile water heater, has a sideline as local detective. Elodie must overcome her fear of being eaten to help Meenore save another hated local—Count Jonty Um, the ogre who occupies one of the town's two castles. With a faint echo of Puss in Boots, Carson crafts a persuasive fantasy realm and a capable heroine. Readers should enjoy watching Elodie hone her powers of deduction to unravel the mystery of the ogre's sudden disappearance, and will likely anticipate further sleuthing adventures with this companionable duo. Ages 8–12. (May)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Praise for Ever:“The striking beauty of the Mediterranean-like landscape sets the stage for heroic quests and romantic picnics, adding atmosphere to this compelling tale.
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Praise for Ever:“The striking beauty of the Mediterranean-like landscape sets the stage for heroic quests and romantic picnics, adding atmosphere to this compelling tale.”
Booklist
Praise for Ever:“An action-packed love story set in an elaborate, challenging world, this richly imagined story will engage fantasy and romance readers alike.”
Booklist (starred review)
Praise for Ella Enchanted:“As finely designed as a tapestry, with a heroine so spirited that she wins readers’ hearts.”
The Horn Book
“Levine’s strength lies in her transparent language and the candid, uncomplicated voice of her narrator, who brings younger readers along with her as she questions assumptions, grows in friendship, works out the mystery, and makes brave escapes.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Praise for Ever:“The striking beauty of the Mediterranean-like landscape sets the stage for heroic quests and romantic picnics, adding atmosphere to this compelling tale.”
ALA Booklist
Praise for Fairest:“[Readers will] sink into the fairy-tale romance, the remarkable characters, and the wild, magical adventures.”
Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
Twelve-year-old Elodie is sent by boat from her home to Lepai during Guild Week to apprentice as a weaver. Elodie, however, has another desire: to become a mansioner (travelling actress), for which she has trained with her Albin, her parent's farmhand who used to mansion. She's not ashore long before learning that free apprenticeships no longer exist and before losing her money to a thieving cat. She wanders around and begins to learn about the town and its people. (A map in the front of the book helps the reader place her in and around town.) She meets a feared, shape-shifting ogre, a goodwife, several merchants, a cat trainer, and Meenore, a food merchant and amateur detective who understands the value of deduction, induction, and common sense. He recognizes that Elodie's mansioning skills of imitation and observation could serve him well and employs her to help him protect Count Jonty Um, the kind-hearted, but hated, ogre and find his missing, beloved dog. Elodie discovers Lepai has several mysteries and become entangled in solving them and uncovering the white sepulcher, a person who is outwardly beautiful and good but is actually evil. Levine has drawn some marvelous, multi-faceted characters: Elodie is a strong female, loyal and loving. Meenore is quirky and fun, pushing Elodie to make sense of what she sees and hears. Count Jonty Um is the antithesis of the villainous ogre but can't make the villagers believe it. The King is selfish, the princess odd, and Thiel such a mix that Elodie alternately trusts and questions him. The fear, ignorance, and greed of the townspeople make them the monsters while the dragon and ogre are sympathetic and dependable. The mystery keeps the reader guessing right to the end. As always, Levine gets all the details right—masterfully describing the town, its inhabitants, their dress, castle life, dirt and lice, and the old art of mansioning. This interesting and fun mix of fantasy and mystery should be popular with middle readers. Reviewer: Peg Glisson
School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 5–8—Elodie is leaving home to become an apprentice to a weaver, at least that is what her family thinks. She has plans to be an actress at the town of Two Castles. The selfish king lives with the flighty princess in one castle, while the ogre of the land dwells in the other castle. The ogre should be avoided at all costs, according to her parents, as well as the dragon that lives in Two Castles. However, Elodie's plans do not work out and she finds herself an apprentice to Meenore the dragon on her first day. Before she knows it, Elodie is honing her acting skills by working as a spy in the ogre's castle, trying to prevent a murder. Gail Carson Levine's excellent tale (HarperCollins, 2011) has everything a fantasy set in medieval times could have: thieving cats, shape-shifting ogres, helpless princesses, a dashing young man, betrayal, wonderfully dimensional characters, and a mystery that must be solved by an outstanding heroine. The main characters as well as the townspeople come to life through Sarah Coomes's superb narration, perfectly distinguishing each character. Reminiscent of Karen Cushman's Alchemy and Meggy Swann (Clarion, 2010), this audiobook with an excellent story line, perfectly crafted characters, a fast-moving plot, and excellent writing and narration is a must-have for fans of fantasy stories with action, adventure, and heart as well as for listeners who have enjoyed Levine's previous tales.—Mariela Siegert, Westfield Middle School, Bloomingdale, IL
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—When 12-year-old Elodie leaves her family farm for the capital city of Two Castles, she intends to apprentice herself to a mansioner, as actors are called. However, as she has no money for an apprenticeship, she goes to work for a clever if cantankerous dragon named Meenore, who instructs her in solving mysteries using induction, deduction, and common sense. Elodie's first big case is to try to figure out who is stealing from and threatening the life of the town's ogre, Count Jonty Um. There are so many suspects, and no one is quite the individual he or she seems; it takes all of Elodie's new skills to keep the Count—and herself—from harm. Although warned about dragons and ogres, Meenore and Jonty Um become Elodie's closest friends. Meenore, whose gender is unknown and so must be referred to as IT, is prickly but steadfast, and shy Jonty Um is hugely troubled by how much everyone hates and fears him. Other characters, such as the gorgeous cat trainer Count Thiel and the dithering Princess Renn, are also fascinatingly unpredictable. Elodie, luckily, is sensible and reliable through and through (if inclined to the dramatic side of life). Readers are certain to be pulled, like Elodie herself, right into the midst of the rich and swirling life of Two Castles.—Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews

A thoroughly delicious romp from the author of Ella Enchanted (1997). Before Lodie leaves the island of Lahnt, her mother warns her to beware ogres, dragons and "the whited sepulcher" (a villain who appears virtuous) in the big town of Two Castles; she inevitably meets all three, encountering danger and friendship where least expected. Lodie's parents send her away to become a weaver, but the girl plans to become a "mansioner" (actor), like her brother Albin. When she cannot secure a free apprenticeship, she finds herself working for the enigmatic dragon Masteress Meenore, a food vendor and amateur detective.Lodie soon employs her imitative and observational mansioning skills—and Meenore's lessons in "deduction, induction, and common sense"—to investigate thefts and threats at ogre Count Jonty Um's royalty-crowded castle. When local prejudices and political intrigue throw the court into an uproar, Lodie must solve the many mysteries or face execution. Fairy tales and classic myths are cleverly woven into the story, but the gritty medieval conditions—poverty, hunger, lice and cruel nobles—provide the dramatic tension and realistic motivation for the adventurous and intelligent Lodie. The plot is winningly unpredictable, the characters easy to relate to, the humor subtle and the action well-paced. Newbery Honor–winner Levine has once again breathed new life into old stories. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781455808342
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
05/10/2011
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.37(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
9 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Gail Carson Levine is the author of the Newbery Honor Book Ella Enchanted; New York Times bestsellers Ever and Fairest; ALA Notable Book Dave At Night; The Wish; The Two Princesses of Bamarre; the six Princess Tales books; the nonfiction book Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly; and a companion to this picture book, Betsy Who Cried Wolf! She lives with her husband, David, and their Airedale, Baxter, in the Hudson Valley of New York State, in a farmhouse that was built more than two hundred years ago.

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A Tale of Two Castles 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
thelittlebookworm More than 1 year ago
Elodie 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. Levine can tell a good tale. While some of her other books are retellings of fairy tales, this one has a few aspects 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book! It is her newest book also. It is about a girl named Elodie, who wants to be an actress, meats a dragon, and solves a mystery. It is a really good book! I read it from our library! I also read all of her books, except the series and Ella Enchanted because I didn't like the movie. You should totally read all of Gail Carson Levien's books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Gail Carson Levine!! My favorite book by her is The Fairy's Mistake. You must read all her books!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this author. She has written the greatest princess love stories, and one of her best is The Two Princesses of Bamarre. I cant wait to read this new book of hers!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im an huge fan of gail carson. Ive read all her books in 8 days. Shes an amazing author and an perfect rolemoddle.her books are filled with fantasy and action there fresh and not old. Every time yoy read one of her books it plays like a movie in your head.its ashame alot of you out there dont like her books. Her books and gail are my inspiration to write.
Anonymous 8 months ago
To get a good review on this book, go to: Castles and Ogres and Dragons oh my!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is this a book 4 children or adults....?...dpo .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A magical mirror. An uggly girl with a beautiful voice. Some elves and a handsome prince. Missunderstanding, potions songs and arroythia. Who is FAIREST?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book grabs you and never lets go. It casts its spellbinding pages on it and you stay up late reading it. GET IT GET IT
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. It is my second favourite book ( if the Lord of the Ring had not been written it would be my favourite book).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will love it lol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read Ella Enchanted and loved it. Should i read this?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was awesome my faverite chatecter was meenore. But i still think ella enchanted was better
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good but it didn't imediately 'suck' me in. By the middle of the book, I was BORED TO TEARS! However, I am the kind of person, who, if started on a book, MUST finish. So I continued and actually did not regret my read. This book's ending was VERY INTRIGUING! I enjoyed it very much but I really wish Levine had made the beginning more captivating. I got this book at the library and am glad I did not buy it. I sudgest you get this book without involving money. You WILL ENJOY IT!!
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It is slow-going at first, but it gets as action packed as Avengers..... In fairytale land.
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Amazing author cute story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago