Skip to main content

The Castle in the Mist

Review

The Castle in the Mist

In her first children’s book, Amy Ephron writes an ode to classic children’s books and places it in a modern day setting.

Twins Tess and Max are in for a less than stellar summer when they’re sent to stay with their Aunt at her home in the English countryside. With no Wi-Fi, and no excitement, their days are pretty dull until Tess stumbles across an old brass key that opens an old and rusty, but ornate gate.

"THE CASTLE IN THE MIST pays homage to THE SECRET GARDEN and THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, in its world building, while providing new twists, like the descriptions and scenes surrounding the carousel."

Jumping at the chance for an adventure, Tess goes through and finds that the adventures do not disappoint. She finds a new friend named William, along with a magic castle that has gorgeous gardens, a maze, and carnival rides that run on wishes. The only thing, William warns her, is that they must beware of the Hawthorne trees.

Everything is fun and games, until Max accidentally goes into the Hawthorne Trees. Will Tess and William be able to save him?

Ephron, who has written successfully for adults, gets tripped up a few times. The narrative voice which starts out sticking close to Tess shifts a few times to settle on their aunt, or to Max, when it would be better to let it stay with Tess. The absence of Tess and Max’s parents is explained away in one of these shifts, and it is revealed to the readers, but never to the protagonists that their mother is gravely ill, which is why they had been sent away to boarding school and then to their aunt’s. And the magical plot does not fit with the non-magical mystery of William’s identity and what is going on with the house, as nicely as it should. 

That being said, Ephron creates a fantastical world where the lines between imagination and reality blur. THE CASTLE IN THE MIST pays homage to THE SECRET GARDEN and THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, in its world building, while providing new twists, like the descriptions and scenes surrounding the carousel.

Readers of FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER, or who are looking for a less dark version of CORALINE will delight in Ephron’s magical world and the happy ending.

Reviewed by Alyssa Cami on March 31, 2017

The Castle in the Mist
(The Castle in the Mist #1)
by Amy Ephron

  • Publication Date: February 7, 2017
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books
  • ISBN-10: 0399546987
  • ISBN-13: 9780399546983