Sunday, February 14, 2016

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

Castle HangnailThis book was a finalist for the 2015 Cybils Book Award in middle grade speculative fiction. Castle Hangnail needs a new a Wicked Witch very soon, or it will be decommissioned by the Board of Magic. A little girl named Molly shows up, and she's a witch. She pretends to be someone else, because she's not actually a Wicked Witch. She doesn't know many spells, but she must still complete four tasks in six weeks in order to save the castle. The townspeople are used to having a witch in the castle, so Molly doesn't really want to do anything that might hurt them. The guardian of the castle, Majordomo, suspects she's not really wicked, but he's not sure what to do. Molly manages to complete most of the tasks, and everything seems to be going well until... the real master of Castle Hangnail shows up with her bodyguards. It's the Evil Sorceress who taught Molly her first spells!

I enjoyed the different conflicts presented by the author. Molly needed to complete the tasks even though she didn't know evil magic, Majordomo knew her secret, and the topic of Molly's mentor kept popping up. Something didn't seem right. The characters were entertaining, and they all worked as a team. Molly's character was a big contrast to previous masters, and her minions didn't know how to react to her kindness. Molly was actually in charge of all the adults in the house even though she was just a little kid! It was also curious how the townspeople accepted having a witch among them. I figured most people would be terrified. The book taught a lesson of kindness and caring for others.

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