A Tale of Two Castles
By Gail Carson Levine
Published 2011 by HarperTeen
Elodie longs to be a mansioner (an actress) but it seems like this dream will be near impossible to realize. She is saved by the dragon Meenore, who then sends her on a dangerous mission in the ogre's castle. Soon, Elodie finds herself in the thick of a complicated and mysterious plot.
This is, I think, only the second Levine novel I've read, after Fairest. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with that title, leading me to pick up this one in the fall. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as the other title I'd read. I had a hard time connecting with Elodie. She was likable enough, but a bit dull. I mean, she wants to be an actress but other than that, I don't feel like I know terribly much about her. Additionally, a lot of the plot felt overly complicated and convoluted. There are a lot of things going on here but I didn't feel like any of them were handled particularly successfully. It felt like Levine had a lot of stories she wanted to tell in this world and crammed them all into this book, though, allegedly, this is the first book in a series (book two may be coming out this year, I hear). It just felt like too much for me. Finally, the writing seemed a bit simplistic. I don't need every book I read to be drenched in lovely prose, but this just felt pedestrian.
I really wanted to like this book because it looked like a fun story, but I was mostly disappointed. That being said, I think it will be a fun story for some fantasy readers, just not me.