Sara's Reviews > The Enchanted Castle

The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit
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's review
Jan 22, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: audiobooks, fantasy, young-adult
Read from January 22 to 23, 2012

Once upon a time, there were three bored but imaginative little children left all alone in a boarding school with one nosy maid and an agreeable French governess for the holidays. Having securely wrapped the governess around their collective little fingers, they secure her permission to go into the woods one afternoon. In the woods, they find a castle garden, and in the garden they find a sleeping princess dressed all in pink silk with a magic ring on her finger.

Well. All right. So she's the housekeeper's niece, and she's not really even asleep, and she's just another girl with an imagination that rivals their own. But the ring is really magic. Hijinks ensue, and we quickly see the truth of the old saying: Be careful what you wish for. There is invisibility, there are secret passages, there are gods and goddesses and a dinosaurus, there is magic and myth and a whole world of hidden secrets.

This is so my kind of story. It turns old familiar clichés (like the sleeping princess and the enchanted garden) on their heads but knows exactly which ones to keep intact as well (like the troublesome magical ring), and more importantly it knows how to use them. It delves into a world of mythology that resonates well with me and doesn't screw it up, which is a little bit amazing. There's the fantastic all mixed up with the mundane, which is something I've always had a bit of a soft spot for. Ditto kids being the bridge between the two, the combining force in the story that brings reality and fantasy into a head-on collision.

It doesn't get five stars from me because the things that are annoying are really annoying. Which is mostly the children. I like the characters, I really do, but I've no idea why. All four of the children are varying degrees of spoilt, conceited, demanding, selfish, whiny, and thoughtless. And yet their adventures and the ways in which they handle them draw me in anyway. The ending, without saying too much, is also a little neat and tidy (although also thrilling), and I'm left feeling like there are some loose ends that aren't tied up, some explanations necessary that aren't given. The other side of this coin, though, is part of why I've put this all the way up at a four-star rating: because the author has taken a bunch of stuff I shouldn't like and mixed it up in such a way and in such proportions with stuff that is absolutely guaranteed to catch my interest that I wind up liking the whole very well in spite of myself.
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