Summary: Enzio and Pia are brother and sister, and they wish beyond anything else that someday they will live in the marvelous Castle Corona where white ponies frolic and the royal family dines on fine food. However, as of now they are stuck working for their harsh master who constantly calls them “dirty beetles” and strives to make their lives as miserable as possible. Their monotonous days are only spiced up with the hopes and dreams of wearing silken gold clothing and gorging themselves upon roast pheasant and exotic fruits at the one and only Castle Corona! A day that makes Enzio’s and Pia’s lives even more interesting than their dreams is when they find a stolen pouch that knights are searching for all over the land. The reader is also introduced to the royal family who resides at the castle: the lazy king, the uncaring queen, the snotty princess, the violent young prince, and the son soon-to-be king who would rather live as a poet. The Castle Corona switches back and forth between the two families until they eventually entwine. When they do, secrets the plot had been on the verge of revealing are suddenly uncovered and the story clicks together.
Recommendation: The Castle Corona is one of those books that start with a small event (like the finding of a pouch) and lead up to something much bigger (like the changing of a kingdom – I won’t tell you how, though). This “domino effect” is interesting to follow in a book because you want the end result to happen closer to the beginning. You’re practically yelling in your head at the characters, “Use your brains and figure things out!” Another thing that I like about this book is that it’s downright hilarious, in part because of its language. The author uses a formal, knightly tone, but it’s almost like she’s poking fun at that way of speaking. Unlike in Seraphina, a book I reviewed earlier in the year, this book’s old-fashioned tone adds to instead of taking away from my overall experience. Speaking of being true to the time period, an element in this book that makes it even better is that it’s actually illuminated. David Diaz’s old-timey flourishes and colorful pictures fill the pages just like a Medieval illuminated manuscript! Overall, I enjoyed this book very much and hope to read more of Sharon Creech’s novels.
Favorite Passage: “‘That’s very profound, Guidie,’ she said, aware that she was jealous of the King’s access to his personal hermit. Perhaps, she thought (and not for the first time), she should acquire her own hermit.”