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A Tale of Two Castles

(A Tale of Two Castles #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  8,334 ratings  ·  888 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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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  8,334 ratings  ·  888 reviews

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Feb 27, 2011 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
Erica (storybookend)
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
Tomoe Hotaru
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 26, 2011 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.
May 15, 2013 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

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
Feb 19, 2011 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
Feb 25, 2011 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
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
4.5 stars - Gail Carson Levine has completely charmed me over the past year. This was my third book by her, and I really loved it. It definitely is targeted towards a younger audience than some of her others, so know that going in if you expect it to be more for early teens. I would say this would be for elementary aged children.

I really enjoyed the main character, Elodie, and her relationships built with the ogre and dragon in the story. She started out very naive, and many times I shook my he
Apr 15, 2011 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
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
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Elodie is a 12-year-old farm girl that has set off for Two Castles to become mansioner. Things don't quite go as she planned and Elodie ends up as an assistant for a Dragon. Soon her employer sends her off on a dangerous mission into an ogre's castle.

It has been a while since I've read anything by Gail Carson Levine but this book reminded me why I love her.

Her books are charming and sweet. And full of much magic, which I love. I think it is quite cool that a Dragon was a prominent character in
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 15, 2011 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
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
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Gail Carson Levine got me started on fantasy with Ella Enchanted (which has a movie adaptation that I love, but the book is even better). The Two Princesses of Bamarre makes me cry every time I read it and I can never get over the themes and writing in Fairest. What you need to know, right here and now, is that GCL is my fantasy QUEEN. But A Tale of Two Castles is perhaps the pauper in her writing kingdom.

This book is a re-read for me, and it fell a little flat during my first read (maybe three
Pamela Bronson
Jan 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is actually the second time I've read this, but I forgot almost everything (which is useful in some ways).

As with the author's more famous Ella Enchanted, this book is a based on a fairy tale, but it is changed even more drastically. Why do we assume ogres are bad and cats and their owners are good? (I personally love cats, but don't approve of them eating humanoids in any form.) It adds a charming and valiant protagonist, Elodie, and a fascinating dragon. Again there is ambiguity - is the
Charly Troff (ReaderTurnedWriter)
Another fun read from one of my favorite authors! This isn't my favorite by her, but I still found it very enjoyable.

One of my favorite parts was getting to know the characters. Elodie is a funny, naive at times, brave girl who cares about others and forms heart warming friendships. The dragon is unique and surprising in some ways, but still a clever dragon and the combination made me laugh. The ogre is kind and misunderstood and the side characters are never quite what they seem. Another favor
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021, middle-grade
Why can’t I have a dragon friend?!
I loved this book. I’m really wavering between 4 and 5 stars. I loved the mix of fantasy and mystery and Meenore, the dragon, is one of my new all time favorite characters.
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
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
Alice Janell
Feb 28, 2011 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
Nov 14, 2014 rated it liked it
I am not terribly fond of the mystery genre for kids. Too often the mysteries seem to be more contrived than genuine - a large cast of suspicious characters, blatant clues, blatant red herrings, etc. This book had some of those characteristics, but not to excess and they were balanced, luckily, by some interesting characterizations. The dragon, IT, seemed especially interesting to me, but several other characters were also intriguing.

I found the use of the words mansioning and mansioner to be s
Apr 10, 2011 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 20, 2011 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
Miss Clark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Really interesting premise for a Middle Grade, in that the overall theme is one of learning to identify people who seem nice at first and turn out to be bad news. How to spot Whited Sepultures in the big city. I also enjoyed that there was an ungendered character ("it's no one's business if a Dragon is a He or a She except the Dragon") though an all-caps use of IT/IT's for pronouns did not become less clunky. ...more
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a cute little book, written for a young audience. It was funny, but a little cringy at times, but I loved it all the same.
Renee Hall
Aug 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Mystery isn't usually my thing, even with the fantasy trappings -- but in this case it was worth it for the characters, especially the dragon Masteress Meenore. ...more
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!
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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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