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

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,839 Ratings  ·  750 Reviews
Mysteries abound, especially in Two Castles.

A handsome cat trainer, black-and-white cats, thieves on four legs and two, suspicious townsfolk, a greedy king, a giddy princess, a shape-shifting ogre, a brilliant dragon. Which is the villainous whited sepulcher?

Elodie journeys to the town of Two Castles to become a mansioner—an actress—but luck is against her. She is saved fr
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by HarperTeen
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Feb 28, 2011 Vinaya rated it really liked it
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
Jubilation Lee
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
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
Jun 05, 2011 Amanda rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 01, 2014 Valerie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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

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
Jan 01, 2016 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, kindle-read, 2015
While nothing can ever replace my love for Ella Enchanted, A Tale of Two Castles is a really fun story. Sometimes the way the story flowed felt odd, but for the most part, I really enjoyed this one and devoured it in about a day. I think had I read it as a child it would have been a favorite for sure. I already own the second book about Elodie and hope to read it this year.
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
Jun 12, 2011 Julie rated it liked it
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
Feb 25, 2011 Seanean rated it it was ok

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
Aug 13, 2015 Annadella rated it really liked it
could really take or leave the mystery stuff but i love elodie & meenore exceedingly & YES, I TOO AM A DRAGON OF UNKNOWN GENDER TO BE REFERRED TO EXCLUSIVELY IN CAPSLOCK, THANK YOU
Miranda the Gayvenger
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)
May 15, 2011 Christina (A Reader of Fictions) rated it did not like it
Shelves: netgalley
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
Feb 28, 2011 Alice Janell rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
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
Apr 18, 2011 Karissa rated it it was ok
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
Jun 23, 2015 Lynna rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 12, 2011 Ceilidh rated it really liked it
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
Feb 24, 2011 Annie Cristina rated it liked it
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
Michael Jones
Apr 05, 2012 Michael Jones rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I read this because my 11-year-old daughter was reading it. I like to read the same books they're reading. This one was a great discussion starter! Particularly intriguing was the way the main character develops a relationship with the Dragon and the way she uses her wits and her ability to "mansion" which has to do with playacting to solve a very difficult mystery and try to escape.

has much of value for younger girls going into the world!
Aug 07, 2015 hpboy13 rated it really liked it
Gail Carson Levine did it again, and crafted a fantastic book – a middle-grade high fantasy whodunit. It’s an immensely enjoyable read, with a fantastic lead – Elodie, an aspiring actress who is astute, resourceful, and nonjudgmental. I loved how Levine upended fantasy tropes by making a sympathetic ogre and dragon, and making the humans out to be the real monsters. And while some of the orge’s staff needed fleshing out (I couldn’t really keep them straight), most of the characters are wonderful ...more
Jo Oehrlein
Apr 10, 2015 Jo Oehrlein rated it liked it
Shelves: dragon
Elodie leaves her family and her home to travel far away to get an apprenticeship. Unfortunately, when she arrives her money is stolen and the master she wants to study with refuses to take her because she can't pay (although her money was stolen, she never had enough to pay the apprenticeship fee and was trying to win an apprenticship by volunteering to work for free).

Fortunately, she has caught the attention of the local dragon and IT hires her as ITs assistant. IT does a variety of jobs aroun
Amy Irish
Apr 26, 2015 Amy Irish rated it really liked it
The title made me think it would be something hum drum, but I started it anyway (the book was recommended by a young friend). The beginning was slow... but as soon as the main character got to the city I was hooked. There is quite a mystery to uncover in this book, if the feisty female main character can learn to apply her deductive reasoning. I loved Elodie, and the rest of the characters: a dragon who is part Sherlock Holmes; a shapeshifting ogre who just wants to fit in; and the very de Medic ...more
Aimee (Getting Your Read On)
Mar 11, 2011 Aimee (Getting Your Read On) rated it really liked it
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
Posted at

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
Splash Of Our Worlds *Yiota*
I would describe A Tale Of Two Castles as cute fantasy book. More like a fairytale with mystery, i would tell to my children.

I haven't read any of the other books of Gail Carson Levine (i have watch Ella Enchanted Movie though) though it took me some time to get used to her writing style. She combined knows to us fantasy creatures and her ideas of them and created fast paced fantasy story. Little naive at times.

It was one of those books, that our hero/heroine are not one of my favorite characte
Elinor  Loredan
La! (as Princess Renn would say) I hate to admit that I am disappointed with this one. I started out hooked, following strong and independent Elodie with her mansioning ambitions (though she is rather grown up for 12 and I would like to know how her desire to act formed). The storytelling was nice and simple, with simple descriptions and conversation, not trying to do anything grandiose. Count Jonty Um, the tender ogre, and IT, Elodie's tough but sympathetic masteress, are immediately likeable, ...more
Small Review
Oct 11, 2015 Small Review rated it really liked it
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
May 27, 2011 Merideth Jenson-Benjamin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, kid-lit
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
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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
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