Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

Castle Hangnail needs a new master. If one doesn’t come soon it will be decommissioned. Invitations have been sent. The minions await the arrival. And who comes calling but a twelve-year old girl named Molly who says she’s a wicked witch. She’s there to save the day. But can she?  She’ll have to prove that magic can come from unexpected places first, like friendship and imagination. She’ll have to discover that that kind of magic can sometimes be more powerful than any from a spell book too.

Molly is a witch, but she’s not a very good one. Although she can do some basic spells, she’s just learning. She’s wicked though, even if it is not in an evil way. She’s told some lies, run away from home, and taken the invitation of another to become the master of the castle. But the master must complete certain tasks before they can “take” possession and the evil sorceress who was supposed to accept the invitation to the castle (a teenaged friend of Molly’s) is on her way. Can Molly complete the tasks and win over the hearts of the minions who run the castle, the likes of a butler who is a bit of a Frankenstein, a couple of Minotaurs, a cloth puppet who is the tailor, a goldfish and a girl made mostly of mist? Of course she can, and in the process she’ll win over our hearts as well.

This book is perfect for younger readers. While there is no question that they are capable of reading books with darker themes, it is refreshing to see a book about magic that is both innocent and playful. The author acknowledges that she wanted to write in the style of Eva Ibbotson and she has succeeded wonderfully. I just hope she makes this into a series!

This is a must read.