Sophie Anderson brilliantly combines the fairytale with the familiar and 'The Castle of Tangled Magic' is a marvellous example. It's full of adventure, enchantment, heart and joy, with a entanglement of characters of all shapes and sizes. Anderson has had a lot of fun with this one and it shows!
Olia's ancestral home is under threat. A great storm is coming that could tear her castle down, with its five hundred years of history and ancestry. But, with help from a wily house spirit, Olia discovers a doorway into a magical land. There she meets wild spirits who might be able to help save her home, if she is brave enough to face a powerful wizard.
What makes 'The Castle of Tangled Magic' such a riveting page-turner is that the action never lets up. This is a sparkling story that is constantly in motion. In this, Anderson's writing shares the genetic make-up of classic fairytales, while delving deeper into the heart of her characters. This is as much about family, friendship and loyalty as it is about magic and adventure. Olia is a plucky and caring narrator, one whom children will love. And I really admire how Anderson weaves the incredible and the fantastic through this first person perspective. It isn't easy to do, but Anderson does it seemingly effortlessly, making her stories warm and personal, daring and grand.
I loved, loved, loved all the magical characters Olia encounters. They startle, delight and scare as fairytale characters should. I love the audacity of getting a first-person narrator to describe meeting a giant with only a head. There are surprises too, which expand and connect Anderson's growing Russian folklore universe - children will whoop and clap! And, although the book is longer than most, the stakes are always high and only get higher, with an ending that is heart-poundingly exciting with a kind of 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Russian folklore team of heroes and heroines banding together.
'The Castle of Tangled Magic' is an adrenaline-fuelled fairytale on an epic scale - brilliantly fun and wondrously warm.