Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Our Castle by the Sea” as Want to Read:
Our Castle by the Sea
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Our Castle by the Sea

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,133 ratings  ·  238 reviews
In this haunting and compelling follow-up to the instant classic The Secret of Nightingale Wood. Lucy Strange takes a seafaring myth and grounds it in the stark reality of World War II.

Growing up in a lighthouse, 11-year-old Pet's world has been one of storms, secret tunnels, and stories about sea monsters. But now the country is at war and the clifftops are a terrifying b
Audio CD, 258 pages
Published April 30th 2019 by Scholastic Audio Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Our Castle by the Sea, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Our Castle by the Sea

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,133 ratings  ·  238 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Our Castle by the Sea
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like family stories and WWII stories
This was a very enjoyable and interesting story set in Kent, England during WWII. The story starts in happier times when Mutti, Pa and their daughters Magda and Petra live in a lighthouse called the castle. Since they were small they have known about the legend of the standing stones that guard the lighthouse and enjoy their father's stories about them. They enjoy their lives by the sea and help their father with his lighthouse duties. When war comes attitudes change towards their mother who is ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with Lucy Strange's first book, The Secret of Nightingale Wood, so I knew I had to check this book out.
The author situates this book very early into the Second World War, and nicely describes the corrosive effects of fear and mistrust on relationships. First the German born individuals come under scrutiny, with some being sent to internment camps, as happens with main character Petra's mother. Everyone is wary of everyone else, watching for treasonous behaviour, and is quick to ju
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
1939, eleven year-old Petra lives happily in a lighthouse in Kent, England alongside her Pa, her German mother and older sister Magda. While the coast prepares a possible Nazi invasion, the family faces a string dark and troubling events. Pet's mother is sent to an interment camp, her father sets sail to help the troops in Dunkirk and Mags appears to be secretive and conceivably withholding vital information from her younger sister. Can this family survive the horrors of war? Lucy Strange is a m ...more
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Everything started so well but the ending completely ruined this book for me.

The villains who at the very climax of the story just absolutely have to make page-long explanations of everything they are doing at the moment and why they are doing it annoyed me and was absolutely ridiculous. The liberty the author took with historical events was a "No" for me. The happy ending and happy "bright blue-eyed and plump" girls in 1941 when WWII was essentially at the very beginning seemed unrealistic and
11-year-old Petra loves being the lighthouse keeper's daughter. Petra enjoys helping her Pa with the logbook and lighting the lamp. She is not so fond of her Pa's slightly eerie tale of the Wyrm and the Stones. She fears the Wyrm (ancient dragon but nickname for sandbar) will rise up and drag her to the bottom. She fears being turned into stone after pleading for the Wyrm to spare a loved one's life. When England goes to war with Germany, Petra's world is upended and her nightmares seem to be co ...more
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.

Lucy Strange is back at it again with her historical fiction that feels like it was written during the period it talks about. We follow the story of Pet and her family who live in a lighthouse at the start of World War II. The characters are all very compelling, though I didn't really like Mags, Pet's older sister. The plot is slow at times but knows how to heighten the stak
4-4.5 stars

I definitely enjoyed this and once again Lucy Strange does an excellent job of narrating her own books (maybe because she's an actor?). While listening to this, I was reminded a bit of The War That Saved My Life, partly because it takes part during a similar time period. However, I think there was more time spent on relationships and chosen vs blood family in the Bradley books than in this one. There was more atmosphere and mystery in this one. But I think if one liked the Bradley boo
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book. A very different perspective from other WW2 books I've read. I remember my mother telling me of her friend and his family being sent to interment camps here in Utah. It became more personal. Our generation hasn't had the war at home but this gave me a glimpse into what my parents could have felt.

I enjoyed reading about the Dover coast and a "lighthouse" and being painted green to hide it.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Schools are spoilt for choice when it comes to stories set in World War 2, but this new book by Lucy Strange absolutely deserves its place as a worthy addition to the list.

Bringing together an evocative wartime setting, relatable themes and a sprinkling of ancient legend, this is a riveting read that I’m certain will delight teachers and children alike in KS2 classrooms.

Set in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II, the story follows 12-year-old Pet (short for Petra Zimmerman Smith - a name that f
Emily M
World War II, kids trying to find sabateurs, Dunkirk rescue...this should have been great. But the plot seemed muddled, the motives of the parents unclear, and the level of violence (bad guys trying to kill a British schoolgirl in her home?) a bit much for a middle grade book. It just didn't do it for me. This one goes back to the library without my kids reading it. ...more
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
For some unknown reason, I didn't expect to like this book as well as I did. It was well constructed and beautifully written, and I was moved along by the unexpected twists and surprises of the plot. The only objection I have is that main character Petra sounded way too mature for a 12 year old. Author Lucy Strange narrated the audiobook and did an admirable job. ...more
Kimberly Hornberger
Picked this up knowing nothing about it and purely because I liked the cover. Took me by surprise at how much I came to love Pet and feel for her family. I’ve read a lot about WWII, so it surprised me to talk about some aspects of the war I knew very little about. I quite liked this middle-grade historical fiction and look forward to reading more from this author.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is just exceptional. I don’t know that I have the words right now for how good it is. There’s espionage, mythology, heartbreak, family, trust, intrigue and so much more. Audible gasps and a few tears... JUST brilliant.
Alex  Baugh
This is a novel that is so atmospheric and so spell binding, that I couldn't put it down. It begins with the legend of the Daughters of Stone and the Wyrm, the treacherous sandbank that caused boats to sink. According to the legend, four daughters bargained their souls away for the safe return of their fathers, lost at sea and sunk by the Wyrm in a days-long dense fog. The Wyrm returned their fathers, but the daughters were turned to stone, and now stand in a semi circle on the edge of a cliff i ...more
Lucy Strange has a wonderful ability to create atmospheric, intriguing settings for her mysteries. In her debut "The Secret of Nightingale Wood", Victorian creepiness abounded in the dusty attic of Hope House and in the strange woods surrounding the property.

In "Our Castle by the Sea" we have a family living in a lighthouse, built on an island steeped in local legend. There is a smuggler's tunnel, a reclusive older man living in a cabin, and the mysterious rock formations known as "the Daughters
First sentence: I was very small indeed when Pa first told us the legend of the Wyrm and the Stones.

Premise/plot: Petra "Pet" Smith is coming of age during the first year of the second world war. The war brings many, many changes: her mother (who is of German descent) is taken to an internment camp, her sister is acting super-mysterious and stand-offish, her father seems distressed and out of sorts. (There are reasons for all, but, you know spoilers wouldn't be much fun--at least this early in t
Carmen Liffengren
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

You don't have to twist my arm to read a book about life in a lighthouse in England. I really loved Lucy Strange's debut The Secret of Nightingale Wood which was deliciously Gothic in atmosphere. Strange does it again! Our Castle By the Sea is steeped in the myth of the Daughters of Stone and the sea monster, the Wyrm. Pet (short for Petra) and her sister Mags live happily in the lighthouse with their parents. However, It's 1939 and there's a war brewing. They all begin to prepare for a
First of all, I really liked the design of the cover and the inside! They reminded me a bit of the style used by old railway posters showing the sites of Great Britain.
I enjoyed the mystery and the twists of the plot, but its complexity fell flat against a very stereotypical villain role at the end. The villain flips in character to this one dimensional 'bad guy' who of course explains what they are doing, how they got that far, and the plot twists while they are busy doing their one last bad de
Historical fiction set on the Kent coast, mostly in 1940. Mid-grade level.

Our protagonist, Petra, is also our story's narrator. She is a vivid young girl who struggles with feeling anxious and freezing when she desperately wants to act. Her father is the light house keeper and they live a happy life near the cliff edge a little outside the town.
But the year is 1940 and they're just across the channel as the allied forces are trapped at Dunkirk.

The evacuation of Dunkirk is a major feature in the
3.5 stars

I liked this book, despite it's predictability and the rather unrealistic portrayal of an 11 yr old was a good story and I'm glad I read it. There were several things I really liked about this book, such as the horrifying, shattering depiction of war and the affect it had on civilian life, and Pet's anxiety disorder, which I thought was handled very well.

Overall a good book and would recommend.

(The audio book is read by the author and she does an ABSOLUTELY smashing job.)
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this story, but didn’t love it.

Basically it felt like “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”, but for middle grade.

It was a wonderful setting with character growth for our protagonist (who was easy to relate to), but it lacked something?
Loved the lighthouse and wish I could live there =)

3/5 stars
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
It's 1939 and Petra's coastal English town is being torn apart by the onslaught of World War II. Petra has always managed to feel safe at home in her family's lighthouse until her German-born mother is sent to an internment camp as a potential enemy alien and Pet's life begins to spiral. There is a mysterious, traitorous local cutting phone lines, German planes landing in nearby fields, and Petra's sister Magda who is clearly hiding something. The building action is highlighted by a strange anci ...more
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Do you know what the name of Petra means? ... it means rock. Stone. I was a Daughter of Stone now. And Stone is strong"

It was a really thrilling and moving novel setting during the first year of the WWII in the south-east coast of England
Beth E
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii
A very interesting book set in a lighthouse in World War II.

The two girls do not know that the war is going to rip their family apart. They grow in leaps and bounds of maturity as the war affects them in more ways than one.
Poppy Gill
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid good book. 9-12 fiction set in wartime. Family secrets, good historical detail of things like Dunkirk, similar in writing to Kiran Milwood-Hargrave.
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, 2019, ww2
3.5 stars

This was good!

But I think I'm done reading WWII books.
At least for a while.

Even ones set in British lighthouses.
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Amazing historical fiction. Told through the eyes of a lighthouse keepers daughter in the English countryside. A beautifully woven story of mystery, intrigue, espionage as well as a bit of history of life in the small villages of England during the early days of WWII. Including the heroic efforts of English civilian citizens who took their own boats over to Dunkirk to help survivors escape and the sad history how immigrants were treated by their own neighbors after the war broke out and were sen ...more
During this COVID-19 crisis, I've become obsessed with Acorn TV's "Foyle's War"--a WWII detective series set in Hastings on the southeastern coast of England. Lucy Strange's novel, Our Castle by the Sea, fits right into my reading/viewing groove. Essential history, great mystery--the perfect combination--and a great introduction to the harrowing early years of the war including the heroic and devastating Dunkirk evacuation. Well done! ...more
Graine Milner
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful WW2 novel - Pet and her family live in the lighthouse, very happily - until Pet's mother is interned because she was born in Germany. So begins a heart wrenching and exciting story with little hints of fantasy. Spies, fighter planes, bombs, sacrifice and mystery will all keep you on the edge of your seat. I very much enjoyed this - will appeal to fans of The Skylarks' War and Letters from the Lighthouse. ...more
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
A beautifully told and touchingly atmospheric tale about trust and betrayal, war, magic, family, and, above all, growing up.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
NZ Intermediate S...: Our Castle by the Sea 1 17 May 04, 2019 01:35AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • When We Were Warriors
  • Avonturen van de dappere ridster
  • Owen and the Soldier
  • It's the End of the World as I Know It
  • The Somerset Tsunami
  • Het Werkstuk – of hoe ik verdween in de jungle
  • Brons: Over glimmende schatten in mistige moerassen
  • Gozert
  • Orange for the Sunsets
  • Asha & the Spirit Bird
  • Bob Popcorn
  • October, October
  • Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson
  • Timur
  • Ik heet Reinier en ons huis is afgebrand
  • The World Ends in April
  • The Wild Way Home
  • The Skylarks’ War
See similar books…
Lucy Strange worked as an actor, singer and storyteller before becoming a secondary school English teacher. She now lives and writes in the heart of the Kent countryside with her partner James, their baby boy and a tortoiseshell cat known as Moo.

Our Castle by the Sea is Lucy’s second novel for children, following her critically acclaimed debut, The Secret of Nightingale Wood.

Related Articles

Kazuo Ishiguro insists he’s an optimist about technology.  “I'm not one of these people who thinks it's going to come and destroy us,” he...
201 likes · 24 comments