THE CASTLE IN THE MIST for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

For the past year this book was on my long list of MG novels I wanted to read. It made a jump to the top after winning a copy from COMPLETELY FULL BOOKSHELF, where you can find reviews of other MG books.

After reading four straight 350 plus page MG stories, I welcomed this much lighter weight offering. There are certainly many 8-12 year-old kids who devour books of any size, but there are more young readers that judge a book by its length and back away when seeing ones too big for their eyes. That makes THE CASTLE IN THE MIST a welcome addition for all types of readers (taking up just 167 pages of text).

Told in third person, it’s a tale woven with elements of magic as two siblings experience a strange world near their aunt’s home in England. They are far from their own home in Long Island but with their reporter father off to Afghanistan and their mother not in the best of health, this is not a bad place to end up.

They mystery of the castle pulls them into a world that seems to be from the past or could it be the future? You are left with guessing until the climatic end. Filled with interesting characters and a setting you can’t get enough of, the story weaves a bit of its own magic to make this one of the quickest and most satisfying reads of the past few months.


FULL PLOT (From AMAZON) Tess and her brother, Max, are sent for the summer to their aunt’s sleepy village in the English countryside, where excitement is as rare as a good wifi signal. So when Tess stumbles upon an old brass key that unlocks an ornately carved gate, attached to a strangely invisible wall, she jumps at the chance for adventure. And the world beyond the gate doesn’t disappoint. She finds rose gardens, a maze made of hedges, and a boy named William who is just as lonely as she is.

But at William’s castle, strange things begin to happen. Carnival games are paid for in wishes, dreams seem to come alive, and then there’s William’s eerie warning: Beware of the hawthorn trees. A warning that chills Tess to the bone.

In a magical, fantasy world that blurs the line between reality and imagination, readers are left to wonder exactly what they’d wish for if wishes could come true. Perfect for fans of Half Magic and The Secret Garden—and for anyone who’s ever wondered if magic is real.


  1. The relationship between Tess and Max is at times explosive and other times protective. It’s a perfect depiction of a sibling relationship.
  2. William is the heart of the mystery, a gentle soul who longs for his past and the future one brought to the gates of the castle.
  3. The setting is exquisite, and I found myself longing to spend a summer on the English countryside.
  4. There’s a hint of a sequel but thankfully the end neatly wraps up the current plot points.
  5. There’s a map at the beginning and a fun two-page illustrations at the end. In between are 26 quick chapters that will please everyone who loves a magical story.


“Please come back,” he called in return as she reached the gate, which was still ajar, and ran out of it. And she heard him say, “Remember—” his voice seemed to echo softly across the moors “—stay away form the hawthorn trees.”

FROM THE AUTHOR, Amy Ephron:  

When I was little I thought of books as magical places I could get lost in. I thought Oz was real (I still do.). I thought Mary Poppins was certainly real, if we could only find her and that the Banks children never grew up. I thought the streets they lived on, their houses, their families were all real. I believed that The Secret Garden was possibly a work of non-fiction, I mean based on a real story. I loved Half Magic and A Wrinkle in Time.

And I wanted to try to write a book that I call ‘a modern day mash-up of an old-fashioned children’s novel,’ one that was accessible to modern-day kids but married the real world to magic, and not really knowing whether it was real or sometimes imagined….

I also wanted to write a book that taught kids to believe in themselves, to believe in wishes, but sometimes to be careful what you wish for. And, also, these children are on their own and sometimes, for a minute, running through their heads are tapes, really, of things their parents taught them along the way, amazing guides that you sometimes learn from your parents.

It’s also about siblings, and the complications thereof, and ultimately the extraordinary bond. It’s about believing in yourself and working together!

(For more visit Amy’s Web Site)

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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11 Responses to THE CASTLE IN THE MIST for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Sue Kooky says:

    This sounds perfect for an entering MG novel. I love books with lovely scenery XD. Plus well written sibling relationships are always lovely. Happy MMGM!

  2. I agree with Sue. This sounds perfect for beginning MG. And I bet the pace is fast too because it isn’t so long. I may pick this up soon. It sounds good.

  3. I’m so glad you liked the book! I didn’t get a chance to read it, but I may buy a new copy and try again! Thanks for the review!

  4. I’m so glad you enjoyed this book. It is a lighter and magical read. I enjoyed Amy’s comments about her novel and wanting to write a novel where kids believe in themselves due to their upbringing.

  5. Sue Heavenrich says:

    I haven’t read a fantasy in a long time… so this looks attractive. Also – anything warning “beware the hawthorne tree” has to be good.

  6. cleemckenzie says:

    The themes in Castle in the Mist are perfect for this age level.

  7. Only 197 pages? I thought it would be much longer. Glad to hear she packed in so much good stuff in a relatively short book.

  8. warrchick says:

    You have me longing for an English castle in the summer, and I’ve only read the review! LOL thanks for the recommendation and for putting this on my list!

  9. feeroberts64 says:

    I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about this book. I need to get this.

  10. Love the cover and the quote you chose. This sounds like a perfectly lovely book. Thanks for the post.

  11. I agree the cover art is intriguing. I am adding this one to my list. Thanks.

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