The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron: A Book Review.

F I N A L L Y  finished a book this year. I’ve been struggling to get books finished even though I’ve started a bunch (see my GoodReads). So I’m happy to share some thoughts on this latest Middle Grade/Elementary Read!

 Library Book Borrowed  
Middle Grade/Late Elementary Magical Realism   
Philomel Books
Published: 2017
$16.99 (hardcover)
Place: Amazon,  B & N, Book DepositoryGoodReads, IndieBound


Synopsis from GoodReads:

Tess and Max are sent to the English countryside for the summer and long for some excitement. So when Tess, out for a walk alone, happens upon an ornately carved gate and an old brass key, she decides to see what’s inside. To her amazement, she discovers the grounds of a castle filled with swans, bullfrogs, a hedge maze, an old-fashioned carnival, and a boy, William, just her age. William invites Tess back, and she can’t wait to return, this time with her brother.

But strange things happen at William’s castle. Carnival games are paid for in wishes, dreams seem to come alive, and then there’s William’s warning: Beware the hawthorne trees. A warning that chills Tess to the bone.

In the end it’s up to Tess to save her family and her friends from being trapped forever in the world beyond the hawthorns—but will one wish be enough?


The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron followed sister and brother, Tess and Max , as they spent their summer with their Aunt in England. While off riding her bike, Tess finds a key to a gated hedge. When she opens the gate she meets William and his caregivers. Tess (and later her brother) quickly form a friendship with William. Soon their spending their days hanging out with William in his backyard, but some of their “adventures” don’t seem quite real. With touches of The Secret Garden, The Castle in the Mist tells a story of adventure, friendship and the power of determination and positive wishes!

This novel was a quick read at only 192 pages. I’ve been trying to read more Elementary/Middle Grade reads and picked this one up while browsing the shelves at my library.

I have to say the cover and the blurb on the back are what first drew me to the story. It was a little slow at the beginning and didn’t hold my interest all the way through, but overall I did end up enjoying the novel.

The main character was sweet and a bit spunky. I liked how her relationship with her brother seemed realistic. They didn’t always get along, but they were both super close as some siblings are who are close in age. I also liked how Ephron incorporated some magical realism elements in this story—where you didn’t know if it was reality or just a “dream.” I feel like kids will really enjoy these elements of the story.

The story really picked up for me at the end and I enjoyed how the main character handled the situation towards the end of the book as well as how the author ended the story. It was overall a sweet story that conveyed the themes of loyalty, perseverance, a strong female character and loving relationships among families. I really did enjoy the background information and storyline for Tess and Max’s parents as well as their Aunt. I would actually have liked to have learned a bit more about their Aunt as she seemed to have some fun mysterious side to her.

While this story wasn’t mind-blowing or filled with constant action, I do think it was a sweet, quick read that younger readers might enjoy—especially if they are just starting to read some fantasy or if they like light fantasy. This book had some fantasy elements without the high fantasy or “scarier” elements of fantasy involved. So if you have a reader who likes some fantasy and some adventure, but enjoys a contemporary, real-world setting then definitely send this book their way!



Have you read The Castle in the Mist? Do you think younger readers would like this novel? What did you think about the magical realism elements? The Secret Garden elements? Leave all your thoughts below in the comments! I’d love to hear what you have to say about this novel!


Happy Reading!

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About Me

Me holding up a copy of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star and smiling

Hello! NicoleLynn here! I’m a twenty-something avid reader & lover of all things bookish! I enjoy both coffee & tea, a good slice of pie and cuddling with my kitty. I haunt libraries, cafés & bookstores 🙂 Then I write about all these things! ♥

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