Something New: Janet Fox’s Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

BookendsLynn: I am beset by my annual dilemma. Should I leap happily into reading the tempting new books rolling out in the new publishing year, or grab a last few inviting but unread stories from last year’s to-read stack? ACK! I can’t bear to leave books behind so I always end up trying to do both and that is just where I am again. So start your year like I have, with something new and something, well, not so new.

The Charmed Castle of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

The first is The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle (2016) by Janet Fox, which due out in March. If this is representative of 2016 books, this is going to be a good year indeed! Part gothic mystery, part horror, part steampunk, and part spy story, here’s a book that will keep readers turning pages late into the night. It’s set during the early stages of WWII, as the three Bateson children are sent to school in a remote Scottish castle far away from the Blitz. The children’s father is leaving for dangerous and mysterious work and wants to keep his children safe. The oldest, Katherine, is reluctant to leave, but younger brother Robbie is eagerly imagining ghosts and swordplay. Katherine, is logical to a fault, gifted with mathematics and puzzles but even she wonders about the mechanical shrieks in the locked room at the end of the hall. Her two siblings are sure magic is involved but Katherine believes there is a logical explanation.

This is a REALLY creepy story with memorable villains and a fascinating mix of reasons for the odd noises in the night. The children and their interactions are authentically drawn, especially the sibling relationships that play a big part in the story.  The resolution includes terrific action and a drawing room denouement that would make Hercule Poirot proud.  The door seems open to some additional adventures . . . more, please!

Stay tuned for my next choice.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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