It is 1940 in England; bombs rain down every night. Twelve-year-old Katherine Bateson and her brother and sister are sent to a crumbling castle-turned school in Scotland to escape the Blitz. It seems to be a perfect solution, despite the mysteries and rumors cloaking Rookskill Castle. Kat and her siblings will be safe there—won’t they?
Despite the stories Kat hears on the way to Rookskill Castle, she insists it isn’t dangerous. After all, she reasons, everything can be explained without falling back on something so ridiculous as magic. She didn’t believe her great-aunt, when she claimed her antique chatelaine had mystical powers; there is no evidence for her temporary home to be haunted.
Before long, more peculiarities are revealed. Lady Eleanor, the castle’s ruler, seems to be more than she appears—and attempts to conceal a chatelaine like Kat’s grandmother’s. Kat hears wordless singing from one of the towers at night, and watches unfamiliar children wander the grounds. She finds but one reasonable solution: Rookskill Castle must be harboring a Nazi spy.
But when Rookskill Castle’s other refugees begin disappearing, Kat realizes the truth is much more complex. She must answer a question she’s never asked herself before: what if magic is real?
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle is at times creepy, at times gripping, but always full of intrigue and unfolding secrets which kept me turning the pages. Kat is an excellent protagonist who has a logical mind without provoking the exasperation readers often feel when a character refuses to accept something which seems utterly obvious; she feels very real, and so does her relationship with her brother and sister, which made me think of The Emerald Atlas. The plot keeps unveiling new layers and eye-opening secrets. This book is filled with mystery and power, including a very interesting villain and kind of magic which I look forward to reading more of in the upcoming second installment. I recommend The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle to readers ages eleven and up who love historical fantasy and twisting storylines.
Note: If you like The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, check out our interview with the author Janet Fox, and the sequel, The Artifact Hunters!