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The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

(Rookskill Castle #1)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  2,098 ratings  ·  435 reviews
Something is not right at Rookskill Castle, a rundown Scottish manor shrouded in mystery. The castle is a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz, but soon it’s clear there is something terribly wrong. There are clues hinting that a spy is in the house, and there are undeniable signs of a sinister magic. When the children in the castle’s temporary boardin ...more
Hardcover, 388 pages
Published March 15th 2016 by Viking Books For Young Readers
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Melissa Bailey I would say middle grades...there is talk of ghosts, Nazi spies and a person who replaces her body parts with clockworks. It is creepy, and there is a…moreI would say middle grades...there is talk of ghosts, Nazi spies and a person who replaces her body parts with clockworks. It is creepy, and there is a lot of suspense, but there is no graphic violence. I think you need to know what your child can handle and if something like the Harry Potter series was too intense in some places, than this is not the book for them. As an adult, I thought it was entertaining and really suspenseful in some places!(less)

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Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

It is 1940.
Kat and her siblings are sent to Rookskill Castle to escape the London Blitz.
Rookskill Castle is a labyrinthine structure housing several children and many secrets. When children start disappearing one by one, Kat is forced to unearth Rookskill's hidden truths before she and all of the other children disappear forever.

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle has enormous potential. The cove
It's rare for me to give a one star review because I feel bad when I do. But this book, THIS book......
The author thanks her editors (plural) for all their help, and I'm baffled, because clearly, they were no help at all.
In historical fiction, even that written for children, it's important for the characters to be true to the times in which they lived. These children are not. Kat's brother swears! When he is introduced to his father's colleague he calls the man a "ruddy American". Ruddy is a eup
Christie Angleton
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A perfect spooky read for these quiet, foggy mornings of early autumn.
Wow! This was really different! It was both a story about evacuees from London during the Blitz, and a story about black magic, and even had a bit of a steampunk element going on! There are witches and spies and ghostly visions! I was not expecting a lot of this book, nor could I guess the motives of most of the adults. It really kept me on my toes!

But I started to feel like, with so much going on, that there wasn't enough time to go in depth into various subplots, not to mention the characters
Belles Middle Grade Library
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
1st read & Wowza! What a way to start the year! This was amazing! This is a thicker book(which I love), but I couldn’t put it down! I read also the whole 1st half in one sitting, & then the last half in one sitting! In the acknowledgments the author talk about one of those random times she was scouring the internet, & found an 18th century German chatelaine. She said the decorative charms that were in it were so odd(unnerving) that she placed the picture in her desktop. Then after a flurry of in ...more
Sara Saif

How I came to read this book:
It’s a funny story, I’m glad you asked. What happened was, I saw the cover and …
The End.

The only thing that is charming about this book is that soul-catching (wink, wink) cover. I tried my best to enjoy the book but it was more than a little half-assed for me to appreciate it fully.

My issue with it is that it was vague in parts which were important and were potentially more intriguing. The concept of magic, first and foremost, with the chatelaines and clockwork devic

May 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
The back of this book is covered in lavish praise, which I find baffling because of how mediocre it is. It's not that it's a bad book, per se. Plenty of children will be modestly entertained by it. But it's so flat. Flat characters, draggingly slow, a plot that is expressly given away at the beginning by letting the villain narrate her every move and motivation... More than one review mentions "twists and turns," of which there are literally zero. So strange. ...more
When I was young I remember being fascinated by the thought of the mere possibility of getting scared while reading a book. I didn't think it was possible. (My Dad had told me that Dracula scared him so much he had to put it down for a few minutes. Dad!) There were no blood-suckers in this book, but it still delivered an eerie punch. Perfect amount of creepiness.

And the cover! How cool is the cover?!

AUDIOBOOK: The narrator did a good job -- easy to listen to.

UPDATE: I just listened to this agai
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Creepy (perhaps a bit too creepy for younger readers) and a little more about why the children were sent away (American readers won't know about the Blitz and child evacuations). Beyond that, what happens to the children - all of them - at Rookskill, and how they react is a great blend of realism (rebelling against an older sibling) and fantasy (Lady Eleanor's plans for them).

ARC provided by publisher.
Wonderful audio production of a fabulous book!
Liz Carr
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle" was not as predictable as I thought it was going to be. I like that in a book. ...more
Mar 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Twelve year old Kat is being sent to Rookskill Castle to escape the Blitz in London. Along with her siblings and other children, they are to attend Lady Eleanor's school in the castle for the duration of the war. Rookskill Castle is a spooky, gothic castle in the Scottish Highlands and Lady Eleanor isn't what she seems. Kat was given her great aunt's chatelaine, a family heirloom, that is supposed to be magical. Kat doesn't believe in magic, but can't help being suspicious of some of the things ...more
Jennifer Bertman
Three children are sent to a new academy in a Scottish castle to avoid the bombings in London during WWII. The castle is odd and unsettling right from the start, and things only get more mysterious and downright creepy as the story progresses. Kat, the main character, struggles with determining whether there is a magical or supernatural reason for everything going wrong, or whether there is a rational explanation, like a spy being harbored in the castle. I often found myself looking up from the ...more
Richard Corbett
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an exciting, haunting, beautifully told historical fiction that has elements of fantasy and magic. The heroine Kate believes that there has to be a logical explanation for everything, but she is up against Lady Eleanor who is in a way a tragic figure, almost a Lady Macbeth, who come from a tragic past and hungers for power and revenge. The Lady runs a boarding school in a castle in England that Katherine is sent to along with her younger brother & sister, there she meets and become frien ...more
Brittany Fielding
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was very suspenseful and creepy. It has that tone that you don't know what to expect. I wanted to keep reading because I wanted to know what would happen next. I thought the first chapter was creepy and then after that chapter, it got slow, but then it got better. I really liked it. I don't normally read creepy books, but this book was really good. I liked how the author keep the ending slightly open for a sequel. Neato!

I think I would recommend this book to those that like suspensefu
Lauren Stoolfire
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox is a decent gothic middle grade novel set primarily during WWII.  A lot happens during the amount of time that we get to spend with the characters, maybe a bit too much to the point where events are a bit difficult to keep straight.  That being said the novel is also overly long.  It was also a bit scarier than I expected it to be.  Not a bad story in the least but definitely underwhelming.
lucky little cat
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ghost kids, WWII evacuation to a creepy old castle, enigma machines, sterling silver chatelaines, math prodigies, steampunkery, and a heart-of-gold cook named Cook can't redeem this by-the-numbers middle grade mystery.

Most egregious is the heartless wicked-stepmotheresque headmistress who can't seem to muster up even one unpredictable action.
Amaya Moody
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
***Spoiler Alert*** The story i'm going to tell you is about these children who are going to a castle that is a school and is supposedly haunted. The castle is farther where they live because where they live there is a blitz/war going on in London. The Children's names are Kat, Rob, and Ame. They all are siblings. Except Peter who is a boy that came from a city and is going to the same school castle as they are. When the children arrive at the castle they are greeted kindly. When they spot the f ...more
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There’s something strange happening in Rookskill Castle. Mechanical screeches and screams, children disappearing, ghosts inhabiting the castle grounds… and the walls themselves seem to be listening. With a perfectly inhuman villain in Lady Eleanor, a plucky and determined cast of young sleuths, and set in the middle of the Second World War, each page carries the reader deeper into the mystery… and the danger.
Janet Fox has created a new classic: an eerie, gripping gothic tale for children that su
Apr 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
1.5 stars. Long, boring, and anti-climactic. Spoiler: When the author hits you over the head for forty chapters with the idea that a castle might be haunted and a woman's chatelaine (think fancy housekeeper keychain with charms) is magical, it's not that interesting to discover it is. Derivative of The Chronicles of Narnia but not nearly as engaging or endearing. Skip it. ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
when i looked at the cover and the blurb for this book, i was thrilled to read it. the idea is promising, especially the mysterious and eerie setting. unfortunately, the plot just does nothing, and the climax is hardly climatic. i might’ve liked this if i’d read it fourth grade.
Brandy Painter
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This was a lovely creepy tale to read the weekend before Halloween. A good recommendation for kids who love the sort of book that is just scary enough without being true horror.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
While I essentially enjoyed the story, I did feel like some elements weren't consistent with the London Blitz time period, and at times the story moved forward too slowly for me. I loved the creepy feel, but was slow to get answers. The ending satisfied me, but the 380 pages we took to get there could have used some work.

Magic and mystery lovers should enjoy this book, and for older readers as some of the supernatural elements might be frightening. Three stars.
Ruth E. R.
Certain to delight any person who reads it, whether (mature) child or grownup. Deliciously disturbing, and innocently spooky, along the lines of Lucy Clifford's "The New Mother." There is also a bit of Faust and Mephistopheles. If you read this past your bedtime, or by flashlight near a campfire, be prepared to jump at things that go bump in the night.

On the surface, the plot alone makes a good story, but Janet Fox's complexity and multiple layers of meaning are worth deeper contemplation. For e
Mimi 'Pans' Herondale
This book was amazing. Definitely a favorite!

I expected this book to be historical fiction, and it was, but also sort of a children's horror/fantasy story as well. I wasn't expecting that, but it was a nice surprise. I actually liked that, it made the book more creepy and interesting than it already sounded.

The beginning was a little slow and a little boring to tell the truth and the only thing that really interested me were the stories from the past but then the interesting things started happ
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
My initial reaction to The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle was that it was unnerving, not quite creepy, but very unsettling. The story takes place in Scotland and has all the feel of being mysterious, dark, and drafty. Something seems to be lurking in the corridors of the castle, and there are rumors that the castle is haunted, what with the strange sightings of young children wandering the grounds. Yet, there are only small hints to what this mysterious thing is. The Charmed Children of Ro ...more
Stephanie Ricker
Aug 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Started off much like a gothic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, then zinged off in its own direction, which unfortunately seemed very amateurish. The premise was intriguing, and the eerie atmosphere was great, but the (half-baked) inclusion of (view spoiler) threw me right off. There was a huge cast of characters, many of which were under-developed to the point that I forgot they existed for long stretches of time. The villain was introduced so early to the rea ...more
THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE by Janet Fox is a historical fantasy mystery set in a spooky old Scottish castle.

Kat has been sent to an eerie boarding school to avoid the Blitz during the Second World War. Although she tries to find a logical explanation for the disappearance of children and other spooky happenings, she begins to realize that evil lurks around every turn.

The author uses a chatelaine, charms, and flashbacks to earlier time periods to add depth to the story.

Written for
Melanie Thompson
I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

This is a dark and suspenseful tale that is a blend of what YA readers love: ghost story, steampunk fiction, historical fiction and magical fantasy.

In 1746, Leonore yearns for a child to save her marriage to the lord of Rookskill Castle. So much so that she is willing to make a dark pact with the Magister who trades her charms to enchant children and ensnare their souls.

Now, in 1940, Kat, Robert, and Amelie are sent to Rookskill Cas
Fantasy Literature
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, Janet Fox’s middle-grade fantasy adventure has a smart, feisty girl hero; it has clockwork steampunk, the London Blitz, spies, sinister rooks who seem to be speaking, and magic. And lots of atmosphere!

Katherine Bateson, who goes by Kat, is the oldest of three children and her watchmaker father’s favorite. It is World War II, and America hasn’t entered the war yet. The Blitz has made London unsafe and many families are sending their children out of town.
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Author of award-winning fiction and non-fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. My upcoming middle grade novel is a companion novel to The Charmed Children, and features a refugee from Nazi Germany and a magical watch. My picture book debut, VOLCANO DREAMS, launches in September 2018.

Published books:
"Get Organized Without Losing It" (middle grade, Free Spirit Publishing, 2017, new editio

Other books in the series

Rookskill Castle (2 books)
  • The Artifact Hunters (Rookskill Castle #2)

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