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A Tale of Two Castles Hardcover – May 10, 2011

Book 1 of 2 in the Tale of Two Castles Series

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Collins; First Edition edition (May 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061229652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061229657
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,250,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“A thoroughly delicious romp from the author of Ella Enchanted. 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.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Readers are certain to be pulled, like Elodie herself, right into the midst of the rich and swirling life of Two Castles.” (School Library Journal)

“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.” (The Horn Book)

“With a faint echo of Puss in Boots, [Levine] 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.” (Publishers Weekly)

Praise for Ever:“The power of love and courage to overcome seemingly impossible odds and to bridge ostensibly untraversable differences are at the heart of this compelling, intensely satisfying fantasy.” (School Library Journal (starred review))

Praise for Ever:“Levine’s (Ella Enchanted) original mythological tale works as romance, adventure and exploration of faith. [She] conducts a riveting journey, offering passion and profound pondering along the way.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

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)

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:“Strong and good.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Praise for Fairest:“Readers will instantly fall in love with the heroine, whose heart proves to be as warm as her voice.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

Praise for Fairest:“Readers will enjoy the fairy-tale setting while identifying with the real-life problems of living in an appearance obsessed society. A distinguished addition to any collection.” (School Library Journal (starred review))

Praise for Fairest:“[Readers will] sink into the fairy-tale romance, the remarkable characters, and the wild, magical adventures.” (ALA Booklist)

Praise for Fairest:“A song-filled, fast-paced fairy tale.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Praise for Ella Enchanted:“This refreshing take on one of the world’s most popular fairy tales preserves the spirit of the original but adds plenty of humorous twists and a spunky, intelligent female lead.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

Praise for Ella Enchanted:“A thoroughly enchanting novel that deepens and enriches the original tale.” (School Library Journal (starred review))

Praise for Ella Enchanted:“As finely designed as a tapestry, with a heroine so spirited that she wins readers’ hearts.” (Booklist (starred review))

About the Author

Gail Carsn Levine grew up in New York City and has been writing all her life. Her first novel, Ella Enchanted, was a Newbery Honor Book. Levine's other books include Fairest, a New York Times bestseller, Publishers Weekly Best Book, and School Library Journal Best Book; Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; Ever, a New York Times bestseller; 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 book Writer to Writer, the poetry book Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems, and the picture books Betsy Who Cried Wolf and Betsy Red Hoodie, illustrated by Scott Nash. Gail and her husband, David, live in New York's Hudson Valley.

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Customer Reviews

The other characters are all very unique.
Shannon Naugle
The dragon Meenore enjoys solving mysteries, and is training Elodie to induce and deduce things as well as IT can.
Princess Deb
I was delighted with this story from start to finish and was sad to see it end.
Susan Tunis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By small review on May 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I've only read one other Gail Carson Levine book before (The Two Princesses of Bamarre), but I already notice a pattern to her writing. I hope this pattern holds true, because GCL appears to be an author I can go to when I want a light and sweet MG fantasy book that will hold my interest and make me feel good.

The dragon Meenore was the biggest draw for me. This character is just one of those feel good characters that acts tough but has a secret soft spot for the main character. I love these kinds of characters and the way they capture that childhood feeling of a parent that may at times say no, but they are always filled with boundless love and protection. The other secondary characters were equally vibrant and fulfilled their roles perfectly.

The only character I didn't like was actually the main character, Elodie. She wasn't horrible, but there was just something about her that rubbed me the wrong way and made it difficult for me to relate to her. This is why I didn't give the book a higher rating, though she didn't irritate me enough to significantly lower my rating. Readers with a passion for acting will probably enjoy Elodie.

Also appreciated is GCL's unique approach to fantasy. As in The Two Princesses of Bamarre, the creatures here are largely original creations. Ogres are common creatures in fantasy, but in GCL's hands, an ogre becomes an entirely new being capable of shape shifting. Learning about her creatures and the rules surrounding them was almost as interesting as the story.

What kept me turning the pages the most was the mystery. It was paced nicely and kept me guessing more than other MG books, though I did figure things out before the reveal.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shanella on May 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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]
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