Book Review: The Castle in the Mist

Book Review: The Castle in the MistThe Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron
Published by Philomel Books on February 7th 2017
Pages: 192

Tess and Max travel behind the walls of a magical castle where wishes really do come true—if the hawthorn trees don’t get you first.

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 hawthorn 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 is the story of Tess and Max, two children who have been left with their aunt in the English countryside while their father is off as a war correspondent and their mother is recovering from illness. Tess wanders off one day and finds a key that leads her to a hidden garden where she meets a boy named William. When he shows her around, she meets his delightful caretakers – Marie who is his nanny, the cook, and Barnaby who is a gardener. Strange things happen when she visits, including a scary moment within the hawthorn trees where Max disappears and Tess must save him.

Things become even stranger still at the end when they visit at the end of the book with their father, who has finally come home. All of it wraps up into a mystery of this Castle in the Mist. I really loved the feel of this book – a sweet summer story of a girl looking for adventure while her father is away and finding a beautiful place to spend her time with a boy her age. I especially loved the moment on the carousal and the hedge maze.


A short and sweet middle grade with a touch of magic and mystery.

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