When Elodie leaves her home and travels to the country of Lepai to begin an apprenticeship with weavers she was warned about whited sepulchers, ogres and dragons. Instead what she discovers is those who act kind may be liars, evil is not always allied with ugliness and there is more to dragons than their fire. Elodie ends up apprenticed to Meenore the dragon and together they try to sift through the myriad stories that surround the disappearance and possible death of Jonty Um, the gentle ogre of Two Castles.
This story reads exactly like a hard-boiled detective novel of the 1940s but it is set within the fantasy novel. With the dragon as the detective and Elodie as the naive assistant, young readers are given a unique introduction to a genre of writing they might never encounter.
The character of Elodie has just the right feeling of innocence and gullibility for one fresh off the boat. The other characters are all more than they appear making the young readers aware that they have to go beneath the surface to find out what is real. This story was fun to read and I heartily recommend it for Middle School readers on up.
Age range: Middle School on up.
A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine. Harper Collins, NY. 2011 328pp.