August 18, 2016
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox
Just so everyone doesn’t think that I review nothing but nonfiction, today’s book is not only fiction but fantasy.
Father has just been called away and the German’s are bombing London. Kat wants nothing more than time to work with her father who has been teaching her to repair clocks. It’s their time together, but, more than that, Kat is good at it. But Father has other skills and he’s been called away to put those skills to use. Before he leaves he arranges for Kat and her siblings to move to the countryside. That isn’t unusual, not in Britain during World War II, but they are going to a boarding school in a castle that belongs to one of Father’s cousins.
When they arrive, there is no cousin to meet them. Just his tall, beautiful, somehow threatening wife. The boys are all charmed but Kat knows that something is up. So does her sister although the younger girl insists that it involves magic. Kat finds a secret door and behind it a short wave radio. She recognizes the radio and knows immediately that there is a spy somewhere in the castle.
There are strange noises and Kat has nightmares. Then her classmates begin to disappear. Kat allies herself with the only American student at the school and she and Peter work to solve the mystery before they too slip away.
This is fantasy but codes and history also play a part. The books themes also give young readers a lot to think about. What makes a person good or bad? Is it their skills and talents? Or is it how they apply them?
Solidly middle grade, this book isn’t a quick read at 388 pages. That said, it is a solid book with no fluff to be cut. Give this to your young reader who needs something of a challenge but isn’t ready for young adult. This book is thoroughly entertaining but will also make them think.