Book Review: The Castle Corona

the-castle-coronaI read Walk Two Moons probably fifteen years ago, and I liked it enough that I considered myself a Sharon Creech fan. But despite my intentions to read more of her work, here I am fifteen years later reading my second book out loud to my nine-year-old son.

Castle Corona was a title I found on third grade reading lists, so I thought it would be a good one to read at bedtime. Ehn. That’s what I thought. That’s what my son thought.

For my son, I think the issue was topic. He really isn’t in to castles and princes and horseback and all that. For me, the issue was much subtler, and, as I said to a friend, “Creech never let me forget that I was reading a story.”

I feel hypocritical writing this, because I think my own Medieval fantasy might have similar problems. Then again, I have to call it as I see it. This is, after all, a blog filled with my reviews. And honestly, I just never enjoyed the book. From distractingly odd accents to a lack of action, I felt like I was reading an idea for a fairy tale. As an editor, I would have sent it back, begging for more story and less morality. From the first moments, when we see the horse chase flash by, we continue to stay just on the fringe of anything actually interesting, always hearing about other exciting things, if it happens at all.

It’s a frustrating read. You’re always hoping, always seeing a glimpse of what could be, but never quite getting there, while being teased with just a touch of charming writing. And even the one time something does happen, it seems to come out of nowhere, results in almost nothing, and is delivered in flat language that once again sucks the action out of the thing.

For all the big deal made of the illustrations, too, I found them to be lackluster.The grainy (computer-generated?) designs in the background took over from the much nicer prints, which are reduced to the size of a thumbnail.

I wouldn’t exactly tell you not to read it. If, for example, your children love castle fantasies and fairy tales, they might enjoy this mild story filled with characters that remain simple and a story that takes place more in your own imagination than on the page. Then again, I would point you to The Chronicles of Narnia and Half Magic first, not to mention The Lord of the Rings, The Princess Bride, or Howl’s Moving Castle. For that matter, if you want to read Sharon Creech, I would begin with Walk Two Moons and Ruby Holler, and continue with Love That Dog, Bloomability, and The Wanderer, instead.

_________

I read The Castle Cornona, by Sharon Creech, published in 2007 by Joanna Cotler Books.

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