Sorry the review arrives so late today...
I was working a wedding with my husband today (video). :D
I always try to read everything Gail Carson Levine writes because:
a) she writes strong heroines
b) she infuses her story with magic
c) and she always includes a surprise
(If you haven't read her, she's written such brilliant re-tellings as Ella Enchanted and Fairest, as well as a fantastic book on writing called Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly)
A Tale of Two Castles is about a young girl journeying to a new land in hopes of being a 'mansioner' (actor). She arrives and through several misfortunes, loses her opportunity to apprentice to a troupe. Instead, she's given an opportunity to work with a rather large and formidable employee -- what she doesn't know is that this will lead to the greatest acting challenge of her career...if she doesn't die first.
Ms. Levine is a fantastic author because she understands the need for conflict, especially internally. She builds it up slowly, smoothly, seamlessly, and then WHAM! A finale with gain and loss (bittersweet endings are the best, I believe) and a new perspective.
I really appreciate the amount of work she's put out (a funny series of absurdist re-tellings, interesting takes on old stories, etc.) and this book, while still retaining the flavor of a Gail Carson Levine book, is her own fairytale.
The story of a girl who knows what she wants and tries her best to reach out for it, in a world where people looked down on her because of who they thought she was...it recalls to mind the great fairytales -- Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty.
Also, you know what a sucker I am for beautiful illustrations, and the front cover is just...spectacular.
Have you read anything by Gail Carson Levine? Did you enjoy it?
See you on Wednesday -- we'll be discussing the differences between writing screenplays and novels!