Author: Ursula Vernon
Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to Penguin Canada for this ARC!
I’ll be honest, Castle Hangnail was a situation where I may have judged a book by its cover. Honestly, it didn’t appeal to me, didn’t speak to me, until one day I felt possessed to pick it up and start reading.
I was hooked from the first page.
On my long commute home from test one of three during this week, I was happy that Castle Hangnail had kept me company through the traffic jam. Being trapped on a bus without a book is my worst nightmare, and having it allowed me to devour a large chunk of the book on the way home. Castle Hangnail is a very engrossing middle grade read with a lot of subtle humour and a cast of wonderfully out there characters. Molly is just so sweet, yet by the end of the book you understand why she’s the “wicked twin,” Majordomo just made me laugh because he has his own self conflict with master and servitude that is written SO CLEVERLY. It’s fun to watch him assert dominance and then all of a sudden backtrack because, wait, he’s a servant.
There’s just something addicting about the way in which Castle Hangnail is written. It’s vivid, animated, and even the artwork within the book is well paced and appropriate to the plot. When the book attempts to share tough issues with the readers, it’s easy stuff that anyone can relate to and it does it very matter-of-factly which I liked. If anything, the only downside of Castle Hangnail might have been how easy the resolve was, yet it worked for the story. I loved the ending itself, which I won’t spoil, but lets just say it made me laugh.
Castle Hangnail cast a spell on me, and I don’t regret reading it. This is one of those middle grade novels that may look a bit childish on the outside, but it’s a lot richer on the inside. Vernon balances humour and realistic issues while still writing a fun story on top of it. This is one of those middle grade reads that would especially be great around Halloween, though really it’s themes and ideas are so universal that anyone, at any time, can simply pick the book up and enjoy it.