Castle Hangnail is the GMGR Book of the Month selection for October, Halloween month. I’m very grateful to the Amazon resellers for getting a copy to me in time. It arrived around 12, I started it at 3.30, and finished it at 7.30. I couldn’t stop! And it was a wet, miserable day and I had lit the wood-burning stove….
From the creator of Dragonbreath comes a tale of witches, minions, and one fantastic castle, just right for fans of Roald Dahl and Tom Angleberger.
When Molly shows up on Castle Hangnail’s doorstep to fill the vacancy for a wicked witch, the castle’s minions are understandably dubious. After all, she is twelve years old, barely five feet tall, and quite polite. (The minions are used to tall, demanding evil sorceresses with razor-sharp cheekbones.) But the castle desperately needs a master or else the Board of Magic will decommission it, leaving all the minions without the home they love.
So when Molly assures them she is quite wicked indeed (So wicked! REALLY wicked!) and begins completing the tasks required by the Board of Magic for approval, everyone feels hopeful. Unfortunately, it turns out that Molly has quite a few secrets, including the biggest one of all: that she isn’t who she says she is.
This is a quirky, richly illustrated novel filled with humor, magic, and an unforgettable all-star cast of castle characters.
One reason for getting this book in physical format was the promise of those rich illustrations. Right from the start I was not disappointed. The writing is strong enough for anyone to picture the characters and the settings, even so.
This is a wittily humorous, warm and rich story, with dawning realisation that some friends aren’t friends at all. Molly discovers she is not as weak a witch as she thinks it is. Her minions discover that powerful evil lords are not necessarily who they want to serve. But that all comes from Molly doing her best to fulfil the tasks she has to do so that the Magic Board approves her as the Controller of Castle Hangnail.
I love the development of this story from the accidental achievement of tasks to the more deliberate, and desperately needed, magical abilities. It’s a true MG book, given that it deals with a twelve-year-old coming to terms with new responsibilities and building friendships along the way. It’s also refreshingly different, and reminds me that you don’t have to be sophisticated and clever to be a good read.