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A Tale of Two Castles (A Tale of Two Castles #1)

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  4,563 ratings  ·  672 reviews
Newbery Honor author of Ella Enchanted Gail Carson Levine weaves a spellbinding tale about a clever heroine, a dragon detective, and a shape-shifting ogre.

Newly arrived in the town of Two Castles, Elodie unexpectedly becomes the assistant to a brilliant dragon named Meenore, and together they solve mysteries. Their most important case concerns the town’s shape-shifting ogr
ebook, 216 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by HarperCollins
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There is only one word to describe Gail Carson Levine’s books, and that is ‘charming’. The beauty of her writing lies in her ability to create enduringly endearing characters. And in Two Castles, she manages to weave her magic, yet again.

Strangely enough, although A Tale of Two Castles has a much younger protagonist than Ella Enchanted, I found the writing style in this book infinitely less juvenile. In Ella Enchanted, her prose is breathless and fast-paced. In Two Castles, her words have more g
Oh, Gail Carson Levine. She’s a super classy person—have you seen her Goodreads profile? She doesn’t even review books she didn’t enjoy, because she doesn’t want to add to all the petty snarky shit that’s in the world.

I… am not that classy.

Fortunately, A Tale of Two Castles doesn’t fall under the category of “Books I didn’t enjoy.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily fall under the category of “Books I did enjoy.”

It’s solidly in my “Well… this was certainly a book” category.

Because yes. Yes it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erica (daydreamer)
Gail Carson Levine, I must say, is one of my favorite authors (at least when I need a cute, light fairytale type read). Her books are sweet, and enchanting, and just purely fun little fairytales. A Tale of Two Castles was no exception. It had that special magical quality that Levine’s other books all possess, simple in its light fairytale esque feeling, yet beautiful with its engaging writing and endearing characters, complete with an intriguing plot, at first perhaps simple, but at the end, qui ...more
A girl working for a Dragon to solve a mystery to save a nice ogre. Add that with the unique magical writing of Levine. Well what are you waiting for!

If that is not enough than I'll write more.

There is a great heroine who has a big heart and a vibrant spirit. Elodie (or Lodie depending who you ask) is on her own now and she wants to be a mansioner which is an actor (took me a few pages to figure that one out). She was turned away though; fate has bigger plans for her. A dragon offers her an appr
The name Gail Carson Levine may sound familiar – she’s the author of several wildly popular children’s fantasy books, including Ella Enchanted and The Two Princesses of Bamarre. I read and adored both of those books when I was in elementary school, so when I saw that she had started a new series it seemed like a no-brainer to jump on board. While I did enjoy it, I ultimately found that comparing A Tale of Two Castles to Carson Levine’s older works didn’t do the new book any favours.

A Tale of Two
Update: 3.5 stars.

Two Castles is sure to please Levine's fans. Several people have asked me if it is "as good" as Ella Enchanted, Levine's best-known title and winner of a Newbery Honor. That's a hard question to answer. Ella Enchanted is such a unique and clever book that I'm not sure Levine will ever top it. It was the equivalent of a lightning strike: unexpected, dazzling, and not something that can be replicated easily. However, lucky for us, Levine is an imaginative and skilled writer who

At just twelve years old Elodie leaves home and sets off aboard ship to the town of Two Castles where she hopes to become a mansioner (actor). But fate has other plans for her. She instead becomes the assistant to the town dragon who is an expert in inductive and deductive reasoning. By paying close attention to her new masteress's teachings and to the world around her, can Elodie figure out who has betrayed the town ogre and poisoned the king?

Final thoug
I am pretty sure everyone who begins a book enters the book hoping to love it. With a select few books that people may start off with their fists swinging, I think the vast majority of us want to love what we read. I am not immune to this, nor do I ever want to be immune to the desire to fall for new words and worlds. Unfortunately, I ultimately did not love A Tale Of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine, despite my hopes.

Read the rest of my review here
Miranda Elli
I had a hard time getting into A Tale of Two Castles. I’m not sure what it is--I LOVE Levine’s books, in that I will gladly devour anything she releases, but this one just did not work for me for some reason. The writing seemed kind of jumbled at times, more focused on rushing through scenes so we could get more details on the setting. At times it honestly felt like more an exercise in world building than it did an actual fully realized novel. In the beginning the book throws a lot of terms and ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
My only prior experience with Gail Carson Levine was Ella Enchanted, which, honestly, I did not like. I had seen the movie first and thought it was better (if not necessarily good). Still, I wanted to give Levine another chance because I know so many people who adore her books. Plus, I love fairy tales and she does tons of those.

A Tale of Two Castles fits into that mold; it is a revisionist, postmodern telling of Puss in the Boots. The ogre who can change into any animal is there, as is the mill
Alice Janell
Whether or not you've read Gail Carson Levine before, you are still probably familiar with her work. Levine is probably most known for being the author of "Ella Enchanted", which is, of course, a cute movie starring Anne Hathaway.

If you enjoyed "Ella Enchanted" (the book or the movie), you'll enjoy "A Tale of Two Castles."

Young Elodie is sent from her home and across the sea to Two Castles, where her parents hope she'll train to be a weaver, but Elodie hopes to become an actress. When she arrive
Previously I had read Levine's book Fairest and really did not enjoy it. A number of people told me to give Levine another chance, so when I saw this book up at I decided to give it a read. It was an okay book. While I liked it a little better than Fairest I still thought it was pretty boring, that the plot was over-simplified, and the characters very two-dimensional.

Elodie is twelve years old and is sent to the city to start her apprenticeship as a weaver. Of course Elodie has ide
I loved this book.
It's rather hard to tackle why I liked this book, so I'll make a list:
1. I once heard someone saying that spunky heroines as an archetype are getting old, and they're right. However, The way I see it, Elodie just seemed so much more than an archetype. Although its true she acted in many ways that are typical of young fantasy heroines (outspoken, brave, smart) these features just don't outweigh the other aspects of her personality, most notably, her love of acting and her vivid
I vividly remember reading Ella Enchanted and being absolutely floored by ... well, everything! Levine's later books, like Ever, never lived up to the perfection of EE. But here is a tale, perhaps aimed at slightly younger readers (although I was heartily grateful for the lack of the obligatory love story you get in a YA novel), that's funny, imaginative, charming, and infectious. The characters are pitch-perfect, which I really think is Levine's strong point. Lodie is the now-rather-typical str ...more

At not yet 14 Elodie (her exact age is a bit vague, probably 12 or 13) sets off from her beloved parents, brother and the small farming community from which she's lived to the city of Two Castles to seek an apprenticeship in mansioning (acting). But on the boat trip to Two Castles, Elodie learns that apprenticeships are no longer free, and Elodie, having no money to speak of, finds her dream dashed before she even reaches shore. How is a penniless girl from town to survive in a l
A wonderfully imaginative book jam packed full of charm. Gail Carson Levine's crafted a fun, exciting MG book that's entertaining for all ages but doesn't talk down to its intended age group. If you're part of the generation that was brought up on Ella Enchanted, The Princess Bride and The Goonies, you'll definitely have a lot of fun with this book. Elodie is a fun and surprisingly charismatic narrator who I think a lot of kids will enjoy reading about and the world Levine has created has someth ...more
Annie Cristina
It's not a perfect book, but then again, I did read a galley, so perhaps the final version will be more polished. My biggest gripe in this book might be silly, but I was annoyed by the repetition of the all caps in "IT" (which the narrator uses to mention her Masteress, the dragon, whose gender she does not know and is too afraid to ask). Still, it was a fun read. Gail Carson Levine excels at creating fantastical worlds, as she did in Ella Enchanted. The characters are both sympathetic and inter ...more
Aimee (Getting Your Read On)
Elodie leaves her family in pursuit of her dreams of becoming a masioner. But her best laid plans change instantly upon arrival in the town of Two Castles. There are no apprenticeships, and Elodie’s copper is stolen so she has no money. She meets the dragon, Meenore, in town and finds herself agreeing to be IT’s assistant. Meenore is no ordinary dragon. She is a mystery solving dragon, brilliant in the game of observation and deductive reasoning. Elodie’s first case with Meenore involves the Og ...more
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A Tale of Two Castles is the classic fairy tale full of fantasy and adventure.

Elodie is a twelve years old girl who is brave and intelligent. She's going to become a mansioner (an actress) at the town of Two Castles, but when she can't do tt, she has to accept a job being the assistant of a dragon.

I liked Elodie. It's obvious she's young and inexpert, acting as she was older, but I liked her attitude. She was strong, always taking the best of eve
Small Review
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 kind
Merideth Jenson-Benjamin
What You Need To Know: This charming middle grade fantasy combines unique characters with Levine's trademark world-building skill.

Summary: Elodie is a poor farmer's daughter, who leaves her impoverished, but loving, home for the city of Two Castles. Under orders to become an apprentice weaver, Elodie instead seeks to become a mansioner, or actor. Broke, unused to city life and desperate, Elodie soon attracts the attention of Mastress Meenore, the dragon who lives in Two Castles. Meenore makes h
This was a charming book. Lodie of Lahnt tells people she is 14, even though her mother has told her to be truthful, and she wants to be a mansioner, a sort of actor or bard, though her parents have sent her away to be apprenticed to a weaver. Basically entering the world on her own resources, like Dick Whittington or many another protaganist of a fairy tale, she finds herself as assistant to a dragon who is referred to as IT because dragons do not reveal whether they are "he's" or "she's".
With a nod to Puss in Boots, Gail Carson Levine has written another brilliant tale of fairytale proportions. Elodie has traveled far from her home island in order to become an apprentice in the city with two castles (the king's castle and the ogre's castle). However, due to a new law Elodie cannot in fact become an apprentice without paying the master. And seeing how Elodie only had enough money for her passage and a copper (which a cat with white boot-like markings stole on her first day there) ...more
I liked this, but it's no Ella Enchanted. Lodie (sorry, Elodie) is from a poor family on the island of Lahnt - so poor that they don't have money for her to purchase an apprenticeship. They scrape together enough to buy her passage to Two Castles, the capital city. There, Elodie will try for a free apprenticeship, a 10-year stint, as a mansioner (what this society calls a traveling actor). During the journey, she meets Goodwife Celeste, who appears to take an interest in her well-being. On land, ...more
May 31, 2011 Melissa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melissa by: The meeks girls
Something was defiantly missing from this book. And the more I read the more I discovered it was the rest of the book. This was just the beginning of what I hope will be a fun trilogy. I loved the character of Elodie! But I want more. This story was so simple and so short I was so irritated. I really like a full complete story and I thought I would get that from Levine but alas she too has gone the way of the sequel's. This book was more for younger readers 8 and up will really enjoy the adventu ...more
It is rare to find a fairy tale retelling that is original enough to keep me guessing regarding the tale that it is retelling for most of the book. I really enjoyed the experience of figuring out where Levine was taking us and how she planned on getting us there. I particularly enjoyed the smudging of roles and personalities so the original tale was not clear until the end. No, I am not going to tell you which classic tale Levine retells. What I will tell you is that I admire her skill at choosi ...more
Elodie is on her way at age 12 to seek apprenticeship in the City of Two Castles - her village is so remote her family has not heard that indentured apprenticeships have been banned. She is penniless in the city when she is offered the job as assistant to a clever dragon. With no better prospects she accepts and the adventure is on!
A talented, plucky young lady, attempted murder, castle intrigue, a warm hearted dragon and gentle ogre combine for a lively tale that would read aloud well for famil
Although there is no Prince Charming in this fairy tale, I would call this book very charming. I had a great time getting to know Elodie, Meenore, and the Count. Levine has a deft hand with dialog and background and setting up the plot. I was completely taken by surprise by the villian in Two Castles, and enjoyed the journey from beginning to end. I have to say that I got annoyed with the constant use of "IT" as a pronoun for Meenore (because only a dragon knows if IT is a he or a she) and it wa ...more
KidsFiction Teton County Library
TCL Call #: J CD Levine G

Chris’s Rating: 3.5 Stars
Elodie journeys to Two Castles to seek an apprenticeship as a mansioner (play actress). Unfortunately she is not only rejected by the troop in town, but she learns that free apprenticeships have been outlawed. Hired by a dragon skilled in deduction and induction, she finds herself in a mystery surrounded by prejudice against a shape-shifting ogre, hoards of cats, greedy and flighty royalty and the pursuit of her chosen career. To survive and save
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Just letting you all know: I'm only going to review books I love. There's enough negative criticism without me piling on. A book is too hard to write.

Gail Carson Levine grew up in New York City and began writing seriously in 1987. Her first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a 1998 Newbery Honor Book. Levine's other books include Fairest; Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Yo
More about Gail Carson Levine...

Other Books in the Series

A Tale of Two Castles (2 books)
  • Stolen Magic (A Tale of Two Castles, #2)
Ella Enchanted The Two Princesses of Bamarre Fairest Ever The Fairy's Mistake (The Princess Tales, #1)

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