Amazon Vine sent me a copy of Piers Torday’s There May Be A Castle in exchange for my honest review.
I’ve read Torday’s work before. I really enjoyed his The Last Wild trilogy and have had the pleasure of recommending it to a lot of children who also enjoyed it. There May Be A Castle is equally good, but in a very different way indeed.
I really don’t want to publish any spoilers, because it is the emotional rawness and twists and turns of the inner life of both Mouse and Violet, the protagonists, that make this such a compelling read. It would be a shame to not let you find out for yourselves what is going on.
Mouse Mallory is, as his name suggests, a small, but not insignificant part of his family, which consists of him, his mum and his two sisters, Violet and Esme (his dad has gone off to Florida to live with a lady he met online). The story starts as Mouse and his family set off across the moors to visit his grandparents house for Christmas. Snow is falling. It should be idyllic, and yet it isn’t, and soon, disaster befalls them.
It is how Mouse and Violet cope with this disaster that makes this book such an epic adventure story. Today takes the tropes of the traditional quest story and employs it in a new and exciting way.
One of the best things about the book is the fact that as well as the quest narrative, we also get Violet’s adventures as she takes inspiration from her heroine, a female pirate, Grainne O’Malley. I confess that Violet is my favourite character in the book. I find it so inspiring that more and more writers are addressing gender in their books and giving both boys and girls way more interesting, gender smashing roles in fiction. I love that Violet is strong and determined and as much a hero as Mouse.
The book had me in floods of tears by the end as not content with turning genres and genders on their head, Torday delivers a gut punching emotional twist right at the end. A superb book which I feel will win many accolades, and most importantly, the love of a lot of young readers.
Recommended for eights and up.