Ahoy there me mateys! I learned about Ursula Vernon through her work under the pseudonym T. Kingfisher. I was surprised to find that she has a lot of work written for children published under her “real” name. As she says,
In order to never again have that horrific experience where I find myself running in slow motion across a library crying “Noooooooooo…!” as the well-meaning librarian hands a seven-year-old boy a copy of The One Book With The Torture Scene, I write for adults these days under the pen-name T. Kingfisher. It’s just easier for everybody, particularly for my nerves.
This does mean that some short stories previously published as Ursula Vernon will pop up in T. Kingfisher anthologies. It’s cool. I’m not plagiarizing me, I swear.
After reading two of her Kingfisher books, I then heard about this book from Matey Molly @ silverbuttonbooks. It features a 12 year-old girl (also named Molly) who wants to become the wicked witch of Castle Hangnail. I had been wondering what Vernon’s writing was like and thought that this sounded like an excellent October / Halloween book. And it was!!
This book is whimsical and fantastic and wonderful. Castle Hangnail has seen better days. The minions of the castle need to fill the position of Master soon or the castle will be decommissioned and they will lose their home and jobs. Will they get a nasty Vampire or an Evil Sorceress perhaps? They are certainly not expecting Molly who is both young and seemingly too nice. Can she be wicked enough and complete the Tasks and officially become a Master?
Seriously the characters in this one are a pure delight. From the Cook who hates the letter ‘Q’ to the bats in the tower to the hypochondriac pet goldfish, I loved them all. And I also loved Molly. This story is a lovely one with a found family, a particular idea of what it means to be wicked, and a plot that keeps ye guessing through the very end. I was grinning like a maniac by the end and avidly wishing for more tales about Molly and Castle Hangnail’s crew. This a story for all ages that certainly softened me crusty salty heart. I encourage everyone to read this book no matter yer age or the time of the year. Arrrr!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
When Molly shows up on Castle Hangnail’s doorstep to fill the vacancy for a wicked witch, the castle’s minions are understandably dubious. After all, she is twelve years old, barely five feet tall, and quite polite. (The minions are used to tall, demanding evil sorceresses with razor-sharp cheekbones.) But the castle desperately needs a master or else the Board of Magic will decommission it, leaving all the minions without the home they love. So when Molly assures them she is quite wicked indeed (So wicked! REALLY wicked!) and begins completing the tasks required by the Board of Magic for approval, everyone feels hopeful. Unfortunately, it turns out that Molly has quite a few secrets, including the biggest one of all: that she isn’t who she says she is.
This quirky, richly illustrated novel is filled with humor, magic, and an unforgettable all-star cast of castle characters.
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