Title: There May Be A Castle
Author: Piers Torday
Series: – –
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Age Range: 9+
A remarkable story about love and death from the winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize
Eleven-year-old Mouse is travelling to see his grandparents on Christmas Eve with his mother and two sisters. But it’s snowing, and visibility is bad, and the car goes off the road, and crashes.
Mouse is thrown from the car.
When he wakes, he’s not in his world any more. He meets a sheep named Bar, who can only say Baaa, and a sarcastic horse named Nonky, who is a surprising mix of his beloved toy horse and his older sister.
So begins a quest to find a castle in a world of wonder – a world of monsters, minstrels, dangerous knights and mysterious wizards; a world of terrifying danger but also more excitement than Mouse has ever known.
But why are they looking for a castle? As the cold grows, we realise it might just have something to do with the family he’s left behind; and that Mouse’s quest is more important than ever.
This is a novel about love and death. It’s about the power of stories to change the way we view the world – and it’s about the power of a child to change their own world. Emotionally arresting but ultimately uplifting, this is a remarkable novel for our times.
Source: Review copy from Quercus Children’s Books via Amazon Vine
Mouse is a quirky character, a daydreamer who clings to toys others think he should be too old for. He’s not particularly helpful or overly clever or brave. He’s just a boy with an extremely vivid imagination. It’s this imagination that pulls us along through the story, searching for a castle that might not even be there, while some unknown horror closes in behind. The fun comes from Mouse’s strange mix of companions. I absolutely loved Bar the sheep, not to mention Nonky the horse who is sarcastic and stern, but also seems to be the only one who truly knows what’s going on. I also really loved his older sister Violet, who is brave and competent and imaginative too in her own way.
While Mouse’s quest unfolds with a mix of fun and danger and strange twists that seem to lead to nowhere, the story never quite lets us forget his family trapped in the car wreck or his anxious grandparents desperately trying to find them. But in the middle of it all is Mouse, dreaming away while trying to be brave as he battles against monsters and knights and the bitter winter cold.
With a bittersweet ending that packs an emotional punch, this book manages to be silly and sweet and completely heartbreaking. Deftly woven in amongst the mystery and the humour is a story that manages to both devastate as well as uplift. It’s about grief and loss, but also about bravery and courage, and finding heroes in the most unlikely moments. A thoughtful read, for children and adults alike, and one that will linger long after you put it down.
There May Be A Castle is Out Now.
Visit Piers Torday for more details.