In the tradition of Edward Eager and E.L. Konigsburg, a novel about the excitement—and the dangers—of wishing.
Tess and her brother, Max, are sent for the summer to their aunt’s sleepy village in the English countryside, where excitement is as rare as a good wifi signal. So when Tess stumbles upon an old brass key that unlocks an ornately carved gate, attached to a strangely invisible wall, she jumps at the chance for adventure. And the world beyond the gate doesn’t disappoint. She finds rose gardens, a maze made of hedges, and a boy named William who is just as lonely as she is.
But at William’s castle, strange things begin to happen. Carnival games are paid for in wishes, dreams seem to come alive, and then there's William's eerie warning: Beware of the hawthorn trees. A warning that chills Tess to the bone.
In a magical, fantasy world that blurs the line between reality and imagination, readers are left to wonder exactly what they’d wish for if wishes could come true. Perfect for fans of Half Magic and The Secret Garden—and for anyone who's ever wondered if magic is real.
For the further adventures of Tess and Max, be sure to check out Amy Ephron's Carnival Magic!
Praise for The Castle in the Mist:
“Bursting with imagination and warmth, Amy Ephron’s first novel for young people is a magical book in all ways.”—Holly Goldberg Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s
"This beautiful story’s quiet, peaceful tone nicely evokes both the serenity of country life and the haunting magic of the castle, and the emotional heft of Tess and Max’s separation from their parents, as well as their strong bond, keeps the tale firmly grounded in reality. Perfect for middle-graders who love classic fantasy."—Booklist
"Rich description of the castle along with an elaborate map at the book's beginning and an illustration at the end enhance the fantasy world....A sequel is suggested; beguiled readers will hope it happens."—Kirkus Reviews
"There are scenes...that are transcendent in their beautiful, ethereal descriptions [in this] uplifting novel about family and connection."—BCCB
"A slightly darker, updated take on magical realism classics such as Edward Eager’s Half Magic and E. Nesbit’s The Enchanted Castle."—School Library Journal
"A near-perfect 9....This book defies gravity because it’s hard to put down!"—Time for Kids, kid reporter
Ephron (Loose Diamonds) draws on elements common to classic children's stories secrets gardens, powerful wishes in her first book for young readers. Tess, 11, and her younger brother, Max, are sent to live with their widowed Aunt Evie in the English countryside for the summer, where they spend their days playing Monopoly, fighting, and helping Aunt Evie in her garden. After a particularly nasty fight with Max, Tess finds a rusted key that magically opens the gates to the estate next door. Within them are a magnificent garden, a castle, and a boy Tess's age named William. Tess, Max, and William forge a friendship, but something is amiss, and Tess isn't sure what it is. Ephron spends a great deal of time explaining characters' motivations, and the overall narrative arc feels rushed. Though there are moments of wonder, such as a carousel that runs on wish-granting, these are undercut by Ephron's need to clarify and oversimplify events ("Aunt Evie was lying to them, but they didn't know that") at the expense of a fully developed plot. Ages 8 12.