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Something is not right at Rookskill Castle, a rundown Scottish manor shrouded in mystery. The castle is a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz, but soon it’s clear there is something terribly wrong. There are clues hinting that a spy is in the house, and there are undeniable signs of a sinister magic. When the children in the castle’s temporary boardin Something is not right at Rookskill Castle, a rundown Scottish manor shrouded in mystery. The castle is a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz, but soon it’s clear there is something terribly wrong. There are clues hinting that a spy is in the house, and there are undeniable signs of a sinister magic. When the children in the castle’s temporary boarding school begin disappearing one by one, it’s a race against the clock for twelve-year-old Kat Bateson, her two younger siblings, and their new best friend.


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Something is not right at Rookskill Castle, a rundown Scottish manor shrouded in mystery. The castle is a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz, but soon it’s clear there is something terribly wrong. There are clues hinting that a spy is in the house, and there are undeniable signs of a sinister magic. When the children in the castle’s temporary boardin Something is not right at Rookskill Castle, a rundown Scottish manor shrouded in mystery. The castle is a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz, but soon it’s clear there is something terribly wrong. There are clues hinting that a spy is in the house, and there are undeniable signs of a sinister magic. When the children in the castle’s temporary boarding school begin disappearing one by one, it’s a race against the clock for twelve-year-old Kat Bateson, her two younger siblings, and their new best friend.

30 review for The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

  1. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. It is 1940. Kat and her siblings are sent to Rookskill Castle to escape the London Blitz. Rookskill Castle is a labyrinthine structure housing several children and many secrets. When children start disappearing one by one, Kat is forced to unearth Rookskill's hidden truths before she and all of the other children disappear forever. The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle has enormous potential. The cove Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. It is 1940. Kat and her siblings are sent to Rookskill Castle to escape the London Blitz. Rookskill Castle is a labyrinthine structure housing several children and many secrets. When children start disappearing one by one, Kat is forced to unearth Rookskill's hidden truths before she and all of the other children disappear forever. The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle has enormous potential. The cover is enticing, the title is alluring, and the premise implies a merging of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with the Pevensies children from The Chronicles of Narnia, but the book fails to impress with every turn of the page. The writing isn't necessarily bad; in fact, the descriptions of the castle are enchanting: The castle loomed out of the fog at the end of the winding lane, after what seemed an age. Kat sat up straight, and Peter let out a low whistle. It was much bigger than the picture had made it seem, a real castle with many turrets rising up through the gloom bit by bit, and it did look the sort of place that would house ghosts. It's the number of awkward plot devices employed that makes this book an unsatisfying read. To begin with, the meaning of a scene is often explicitly explained for the reader, even when the meaning is already implied: "Did I ever tell you about my dog, Dodger?" "That you left behind in America?" He nodded. "I knew I had to leave him. So I stopped playing with him, stopped walking him. [. . .] I just . . . gave up. I let him go, gave him to another family, long before we left for England." "I'm so sorry." "There was no use trying to keep him. That's the way I feel right now. Kind of . . . helpless. Like I want to give up." Peter rubbed his eyes, his back to her. "I wish . . . Well, no use is it? I don't even know why I told you that." The room filled with the sound of the crackling fire. "We can't give up," Kat said, her voice quiet. "That's why you told me about Dodger." Several scenes include the children embarking on a mini-adventure with a particular goal in mind. These adventures crop up as though someone is telling the story off the cuff and saying, "And then . . . And then . . . And then." On every adventure the children face an unexpected hurdle, which distracts from their original goal. These hurdles are too conveniently overcome and, once bypassed, the children seem to forget what they set out to do in the first place. They head back home and make no further mention of their unfinished adventure. Occasionally, the means by which the children overcome these hurdles feel ill-suited to a middle grade novel, such as twelve-year-old Kat fending off a pack of wolves by quoting Plato. 'As' sentences - a point of personal annoyance - are used to absolute excess: As they wove through the garden now they passed the small pond where Kat had seen the girl. The pond was dry. A little tickle ran up Kat's arm as she thought of the girl's invisible fishes. As they entered the allée, they turned back to look at the castle. Even the structure of the book is cumbersome. Because the book sometimes shifts to the perspective of other characters, the story becomes repetitive with the same incident described from multiple points of view. Time shifts forward and backward throughout the book between 1746 and 1940. It's not always clear when time has shifted at the start of a chapter, making for a sometimes disorienting read. Also related to structure, one of the book's weakest features is the choice to introduce the villain so early in the story, along with an explanation of how the villain operates. It then comes as no surprise when children slowly disappear throughout the book. The main protagonist may not understand what's happening or why, but the reader already does, so there's no intrigue, no mystery, and no motivation to keep reading. Two of the book's subplots resolve themselves with the snap of a finger. Again, these instances are far too convenient. The resolution to these subplots simply fall in the protagonist's lap, so there's no sense of payoff or accomplishment because she didn't have to earn anything or work for a solution. The book's most offensive folly has to do with one of the biggest 'reveal' moments in the story, which is totally reliant on one of the children not knowing the first name of their own father. This would be understandable if the child didn't know their father, but that's not the case in this novel. The child has a very close relationship with their father. It's quite possible the father's name was replaced with a code name (after all, the book does take place during World War II), but whether or not the name is a code is never clarified. With a dank castle, a magical mystery, and rumors of ghosts, The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle has all the right ingredients for a fantastic Gothic fairy tale, but too many writing blunders result in a clunky, disappointing book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    ❀⊱RoryReads⊰❀

    It's rare for me to give a one star review because I feel bad when I do. But this book, THIS book...... The author thanks her editors (plural) for all their help, and I'm baffled, because clearly, they were no help at all. In historical fiction, even that written for children, it's important for the characters to be true to the times in which they lived. These children are not. Kat's brother swears! When he is introduced to his father's colleague he calls the man a "ruddy American". Ruddy is a eup It's rare for me to give a one star review because I feel bad when I do. But this book, THIS book...... The author thanks her editors (plural) for all their help, and I'm baffled, because clearly, they were no help at all. In historical fiction, even that written for children, it's important for the characters to be true to the times in which they lived. These children are not. Kat's brother swears! When he is introduced to his father's colleague he calls the man a "ruddy American". Ruddy is a euphemism for bloody, which in 1940, the year this book takes place, was a swear word. These are well brought up middle class children; in 1940, he would have gotten a smack for saying that to an adult. Kat refers to other children as "kids". This was slang and not in common usage before the 1960s, and certainly not by an English child. Add to that the incorrect terms for common items, such as using "sweater" instead of "jumper" and you have a story that is not British and not of it's time. This had an interesting premise, and a great setting but the execution was hampered by a lack of research and poor editing. It would have benefited from being a good 50 pages shorter as well. I think the reason this one annoys me so much is because there is a great deal of potential here and it's wasted.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christie Angleton

    A perfect spooky read for these quiet, foggy mornings of early autumn.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Wow! This was really different! It was both a story about evacuees from London during the Blitz, and a story about black magic, and even had a bit of a steampunk element going on! There are witches and spies and ghostly visions! I was not expecting a lot of this book, nor could I guess the motives of most of the adults. It really kept me on my toes! But I started to feel like, with so much going on, that there wasn't enough time to go in depth into various subplots, not to mention the characters Wow! This was really different! It was both a story about evacuees from London during the Blitz, and a story about black magic, and even had a bit of a steampunk element going on! There are witches and spies and ghostly visions! I was not expecting a lot of this book, nor could I guess the motives of most of the adults. It really kept me on my toes! But I started to feel like, with so much going on, that there wasn't enough time to go in depth into various subplots, not to mention the characters. I was never sure how old any of the children were, and several of them veered wildly between acting like they were about 7 or 8 and then suddenly being teens or at least tweens. I got several of the children mixed up regularly, and also several of the adults, because there wasn't a clear description of them physically, and they seemed a bit interchangeable character-wise. There's also some thing that happens in this story that creeeeeeped me out, and continued to creep me out after it ended. I wouldn't give this book to a younger middle grade reader, because of this. It was very scary at the end, and that one thing was just too disturbing for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Belles Middle Grade Library

    1st read & Wowza! What a way to start the year! This was amazing! This is a thicker book(which I love), but I couldn’t put it down! I read also the whole 1st half in one sitting, & then the last half in one sitting! In the acknowledgments the author talk about one of those random times she was scouring the internet, & found an 18th century German chatelaine. She said the decorative charms that were in it were so odd(unnerving) that she placed the picture in her desktop. Then after a flurry of in 1st read & Wowza! What a way to start the year! This was amazing! This is a thicker book(which I love), but I couldn’t put it down! I read also the whole 1st half in one sitting, & then the last half in one sitting! In the acknowledgments the author talk about one of those random times she was scouring the internet, & found an 18th century German chatelaine. She said the decorative charms that were in it were so odd(unnerving) that she placed the picture in her desktop. Then after a flurry of inspiration 2 weeks later, she’d written the 1st 40 pages of what would be this book! Always read the acknowledgments/authors note..you can learn so many interesting things about not only the story, but the authors too. Rookskill Castle is a rundown Scottish manor surrounded by mystery. It has become a boarding school for kids escaping the blitz in 1940. It’s clear right away when the kids arrive that’s somethings not right. They begin to suspect that a spy is in the house, plus dark magic seems to be all around them. There are other children & noises that have no explanation too. Kids start disappearing one by one, so it’s up to Katherine, her brother, sister, & their new best friend Peter to figure out what’s going on before they’re all doomed. I loved Katherine as a main character, & reading from her point of view. The Lady of the house is very creepy, cold, & wears a chatelaine at her waist. There are alternating chapters that go back to the past, so we fully get the backstory, & what led up to this moment in time. Loved that. This was so atmospheric, full of historical details that I love, adventure, danger, & suspense. So suspenseful & full of tension to the point I couldn’t put it down. It was creepy, w/a bit of gothic horror, & even a little bit of steampunk elements in the mix-which you know I loved. So creative. This story blew me away, & loved how it all came together, & the ending. Highly recommend. Reading & loving the 2nd book now. Love this creepy cover as well!💜

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sara Saif

    How I came to read this book: It’s a funny story, I’m glad you asked. What happened was, I saw the cover and … The End. The only thing that is charming about this book is that soul-catching (wink, wink) cover. I tried my best to enjoy the book but it was more than a little half-assed for me to appreciate it fully. My issue with it is that it was vague in parts which were important and were potentially more intriguing. The concept of magic, first and foremost, with the chatelaines and clockwork devic How I came to read this book: It’s a funny story, I’m glad you asked. What happened was, I saw the cover and … The End. The only thing that is charming about this book is that soul-catching (wink, wink) cover. I tried my best to enjoy the book but it was more than a little half-assed for me to appreciate it fully. My issue with it is that it was vague in parts which were important and were potentially more intriguing. The concept of magic, first and foremost, with the chatelaines and clockwork devices and magisters and souls. It was restricted only to the plot and it wasn’t explained as broadly as I would have liked. What was the magister’s end game? Just the euphoria of seeing his creations brought to life? Was that really it? And the rooks. Like, why rooks specifically? The lady’s scheme to bring more children to her through this academy of hers was another thing that didn’t sit well with me. I think I understand why Kat’s father sent her and her siblings, but all those other kids? If escaping war was the reason the parents were sending them there than why were there so few of them? It should have sent the kids there in droves if it was that appealing. I don’t know, this bit was too convenient. There was an odd magic = science and science = magic theme here which wasn’t coherent. And since the real ‘mystery’ ceased to be just that pretty early on in the book the rest just seemed to drag on to its predictable end. I do appreciate the uniqueness of the story and its appeal. If this is ever made into a film I’m sure it’ll scare me shitless but as a book, eh, it didn’t have quite the effect it was meant to have. IT IS YOUR BANE, THIS CHATELAINE. BY FLESH AND BONE, BY ROCK AND STONE, I’LL CHARM A CHILD TO CALL MY OWN.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chelsey

    The back of this book is covered in lavish praise, which I find baffling because of how mediocre it is. It's not that it's a bad book, per se. Plenty of children will be modestly entertained by it. But it's so flat. Flat characters, draggingly slow, a plot that is expressly given away at the beginning by letting the villain narrate her every move and motivation... More than one review mentions "twists and turns," of which there are literally zero. So strange. The back of this book is covered in lavish praise, which I find baffling because of how mediocre it is. It's not that it's a bad book, per se. Plenty of children will be modestly entertained by it. But it's so flat. Flat characters, draggingly slow, a plot that is expressly given away at the beginning by letting the villain narrate her every move and motivation... More than one review mentions "twists and turns," of which there are literally zero. So strange.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Allie

    When I was young I remember being fascinated by the thought of the mere possibility of getting scared while reading a book. I didn't think it was possible. (My Dad had told me that Dracula scared him so much he had to put it down for a few minutes. Dad!) There were no blood-suckers in this book, but it still delivered an eerie punch. Perfect amount of creepiness. And the cover! How cool is the cover?! AUDIOBOOK: The narrator did a good job -- easy to listen to. UPDATE: I just listened to this agai When I was young I remember being fascinated by the thought of the mere possibility of getting scared while reading a book. I didn't think it was possible. (My Dad had told me that Dracula scared him so much he had to put it down for a few minutes. Dad!) There were no blood-suckers in this book, but it still delivered an eerie punch. Perfect amount of creepiness. And the cover! How cool is the cover?! AUDIOBOOK: The narrator did a good job -- easy to listen to. UPDATE: I just listened to this again, this time with my kids. To be honest, I think I'd give it 4 stars now. (I'll keep it at 5 though, for the record.) ;-) My 10 year old son's rating: 4.5 stars My 16 year old son's rating: 3.5 stars

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Creepy (perhaps a bit too creepy for younger readers) and a little more about why the children were sent away (American readers won't know about the Blitz and child evacuations). Beyond that, what happens to the children - all of them - at Rookskill, and how they react is a great blend of realism (rebelling against an older sibling) and fantasy (Lady Eleanor's plans for them). ARC provided by publisher. Creepy (perhaps a bit too creepy for younger readers) and a little more about why the children were sent away (American readers won't know about the Blitz and child evacuations). Beyond that, what happens to the children - all of them - at Rookskill, and how they react is a great blend of realism (rebelling against an older sibling) and fantasy (Lady Eleanor's plans for them). ARC provided by publisher.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Donalyn

    Wonderful audio production of a fabulous book!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Liz Carr

    "The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle" was not as predictable as I thought it was going to be. I like that in a book. "The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle" was not as predictable as I thought it was going to be. I like that in a book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    Twelve year old Kat is being sent to Rookskill Castle to escape the Blitz in London. Along with her siblings and other children, they are to attend Lady Eleanor's school in the castle for the duration of the war. Rookskill Castle is a spooky, gothic castle in the Scottish Highlands and Lady Eleanor isn't what she seems. Kat was given her great aunt's chatelaine, a family heirloom, that is supposed to be magical. Kat doesn't believe in magic, but can't help being suspicious of some of the things Twelve year old Kat is being sent to Rookskill Castle to escape the Blitz in London. Along with her siblings and other children, they are to attend Lady Eleanor's school in the castle for the duration of the war. Rookskill Castle is a spooky, gothic castle in the Scottish Highlands and Lady Eleanor isn't what she seems. Kat was given her great aunt's chatelaine, a family heirloom, that is supposed to be magical. Kat doesn't believe in magic, but can't help being suspicious of some of the things going on at the castle. There are mysterious ghostly children no one seems to know. The adults all seem just a bit confused as to what is going on. Most disturbingly, the newly arrived children start disappearing one by one. Kat and Peter try to investigate what is behind the mysterious clanking noises and who is using the hidden passageways. Is it a German spy? Or is it something much worse? This was a pretty spooky middle grade read. It is very gothic with its crumbling castle, storm-swept highlands and mysterious passages. The story is interspersed with chapters about Lady Eleanor so the details of what is happening are not a surprise to the readers. You just have to wait for Kat to catch up with you. I liked the chatelaine as the instrument for the magic. It was unique. It did almost seem like there was a bit too much going on at times with Lady Eleanor and the German spy business. And the whole bit where Kat was able to decode the German codes was just too ridiculous. I think if the story would have stuck to the spooky Lady Eleanor storyline and left the whole spy business alone it would have been a bit better. However, it was spooky and hard to put down. I definitely wanted to see how Kat was going to defeat Lady Eleanor in the end.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Bertman

    Three children are sent to a new academy in a Scottish castle to avoid the bombings in London during WWII. The castle is odd and unsettling right from the start, and things only get more mysterious and downright creepy as the story progresses. Kat, the main character, struggles with determining whether there is a magical or supernatural reason for everything going wrong, or whether there is a rational explanation, like a spy being harbored in the castle. I often found myself looking up from the Three children are sent to a new academy in a Scottish castle to avoid the bombings in London during WWII. The castle is odd and unsettling right from the start, and things only get more mysterious and downright creepy as the story progresses. Kat, the main character, struggles with determining whether there is a magical or supernatural reason for everything going wrong, or whether there is a rational explanation, like a spy being harbored in the castle. I often found myself looking up from the book, relieved to see I was not trapped in a moody Scottish castle, and I whipped through this story eagerly to found out how everything was going to work out. Fantastic read. (This would be an interesting book to read in tandem with The War That Saved My Life, as they both deal with children being sent from London to avoid the bombings in WWII, but the narratives and tone are very different from each other.)

  14. 4 out of 5

    lucky little cat

    Ghost kids, WWII evacuation to a creepy old castle, enigma machines, sterling silver chatelaines, math prodigies, steampunkery, and a heart-of-gold cook named Cook can't redeem this by-the-numbers middle grade mystery. Most egregious is the heartless wicked-stepmotheresque headmistress who can't seem to muster up even one unpredictable action. Ghost kids, WWII evacuation to a creepy old castle, enigma machines, sterling silver chatelaines, math prodigies, steampunkery, and a heart-of-gold cook named Cook can't redeem this by-the-numbers middle grade mystery. Most egregious is the heartless wicked-stepmotheresque headmistress who can't seem to muster up even one unpredictable action.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Richard Corbett

    This is an exciting, haunting, beautifully told historical fiction that has elements of fantasy and magic. The heroine Kate believes that there has to be a logical explanation for everything, but she is up against Lady Eleanor who is in a way a tragic figure, almost a Lady Macbeth, who come from a tragic past and hungers for power and revenge. The Lady runs a boarding school in a castle in England that Katherine is sent to along with her younger brother & sister, there she meets and become frien This is an exciting, haunting, beautifully told historical fiction that has elements of fantasy and magic. The heroine Kate believes that there has to be a logical explanation for everything, but she is up against Lady Eleanor who is in a way a tragic figure, almost a Lady Macbeth, who come from a tragic past and hungers for power and revenge. The Lady runs a boarding school in a castle in England that Katherine is sent to along with her younger brother & sister, there she meets and become friends with an American boy named Peter. This is all set in World War II with a wonderful cast of characters and an extremely powerful ending. I could not put this book down and I was left in it's spell for a long time after.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Fielding

    This book was very suspenseful and creepy. It has that tone that you don't know what to expect. I wanted to keep reading because I wanted to know what would happen next. I thought the first chapter was creepy and then after that chapter, it got slow, but then it got better. I really liked it. I don't normally read creepy books, but this book was really good. I liked how the author keep the ending slightly open for a sequel. Neato! I think I would recommend this book to those that like suspensefu This book was very suspenseful and creepy. It has that tone that you don't know what to expect. I wanted to keep reading because I wanted to know what would happen next. I thought the first chapter was creepy and then after that chapter, it got slow, but then it got better. I really liked it. I don't normally read creepy books, but this book was really good. I liked how the author keep the ending slightly open for a sequel. Neato! I think I would recommend this book to those that like suspenseful books. Warning: There are some graphic scary parts and there is some mention of abuse in this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox is a decent gothic middle grade novel set primarily during WWII.  A lot happens during the amount of time that we get to spend with the characters, maybe a bit too much to the point where events are a bit difficult to keep straight.  That being said the novel is also overly long.  It was also a bit scarier than I expected it to be.  Not a bad story in the least but definitely underwhelming.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Ideiosepius

    This book was every bit as charming as it's title, with a rich background of England during the blitz only with a little magic thrown in. The Bateson children are being sent to an old Scottish Castle turned school to get them away from the London blitz, Katherine as the oldest feels responsible for her younger brother and sister as well as being worried for her father. Her father in peacetime fixes clocks, a job Katherine loves learning from him as she is orderly, practical and meticulous. But in This book was every bit as charming as it's title, with a rich background of England during the blitz only with a little magic thrown in. The Bateson children are being sent to an old Scottish Castle turned school to get them away from the London blitz, Katherine as the oldest feels responsible for her younger brother and sister as well as being worried for her father. Her father in peacetime fixes clocks, a job Katherine loves learning from him as she is orderly, practical and meticulous. But in war time her father is a spy and the family has not seen him for some time. Just before they leave, Katherine's great aunt gives her an old heirloom, a chatelain with three charms which she explains are magical. Katherine barely listens, assuming that her aunt's mind is going for Katherine does not believe in magic, though her younger sister loves tales of magic. In Rookskill castle however, with it's strange lady and the vanishing students and the children that may or may not be ghosts... Katherine will slowly come to realise that she has been wrong, magic is real and it can be both malicious and malevolent. The only protection she might have to keep them all safe is the chatelain she was gifted, but that has vanished from the draw where she casually threw it. I found this a real fun read, it is definitely a children's book, but so well crafted, with such fun characters and a nice element of creepy-scary that it is perfectly fun for adults to read as well. It has some great underlying themes for kids too, all about cooperation and listening to people, confidence in yourself but the ability to face up when you were wrong. All of that but wrapped up in a nice magical story with a bad witch, spies and adventures. Perfectly fun.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amaya Moody

    ***Spoiler Alert*** The story i'm going to tell you is about these children who are going to a castle that is a school and is supposedly haunted. The castle is farther where they live because where they live there is a blitz/war going on in London. The Children's names are Kat, Rob, and Ame. They all are siblings. Except Peter who is a boy that came from a city and is going to the same school castle as they are. When the children arrive at the castle they are greeted kindly. When they spot the f ***Spoiler Alert*** The story i'm going to tell you is about these children who are going to a castle that is a school and is supposedly haunted. The castle is farther where they live because where they live there is a blitz/war going on in London. The Children's names are Kat, Rob, and Ame. They all are siblings. Except Peter who is a boy that came from a city and is going to the same school castle as they are. When the children arrive at the castle they are greeted kindly. When they spot the food that is laying on a table and by a nice and, warm fireplace. That was when all of a sudden they heard a voice and they saw a lovely lady, whose name is Lenore. But over, the past days or maybe even months there has been weird stuff going on in the castle and, Kat thinks that it has to do something with the Lady Lenore. Kat thinks that it has to do something with the lady because, there has been a lot of missing children that the past few days. And now she is the only one to figure out what is going on around and maybe even try to stop Lady Lenore. To me I think that the author Janet Fox did a great job because she used a lot of words that related to history and I liked how she made the story seem so real. But what I really like is how the author made this book so suspenseful because she made every chapter so scary and very welled detailed about what is happening every day to Kat and the "EVIL" Lady Lenore. I really hope that she will make a second book about this story. When I was reading I was very angry at Lady Lenore because she is so evil. Sorry but, *** Spoiler Alert***!!! When I was reading the book I found out that Lady Lenore was once the Queen of the Castle but, then when she got angry at her spouse because she called her ugly because of the body parts she traded for children and more power to enchant the children. This is the reason why she made this school to enchant the children that were coming to the school castle. To get more power for herself and become the most powerful of them all. I loved this book!! I think that Janet Fox did a great job on this book and I really hope that she make a second book based on this story. I would rate this book a 5/5 because this book was well thought and written really well. I think I would recommend this book to 6th to 8th graders because this book does have a lot of hard vocabulary. But overall I think that this book is great but, I hope that I and anyone else doesn't become like Lady Lenore because if you did, you might become a demonic lady that wants to enchant children to get more power.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Ricker

    Started off much like a gothic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, then zinged off in its own direction, which unfortunately seemed very amateurish. The premise was intriguing, and the eerie atmosphere was great, but the (half-baked) inclusion of (view spoiler)[the Nazi spy (hide spoiler)] threw me right off. There was a huge cast of characters, many of which were under-developed to the point that I forgot they existed for long stretches of time. The villain was introduced so early to the rea Started off much like a gothic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, then zinged off in its own direction, which unfortunately seemed very amateurish. The premise was intriguing, and the eerie atmosphere was great, but the (half-baked) inclusion of (view spoiler)[the Nazi spy (hide spoiler)] threw me right off. There was a huge cast of characters, many of which were under-developed to the point that I forgot they existed for long stretches of time. The villain was introduced so early to the reader that the much slower process of the protagonist discovering the villain seemed tedious. Plot elements seemed shoe-horned in, almost like they were part of other stories that didn't really connect. Some things were over-explained to the point of repetition, while others were never properly clarified. And yet, this book clearly had a lot of potential, and I genuinely enjoyed the setting and some of its ideas. The author left things open for a sequel, and I wonder what that might turn out to be like. I assumed maybe this was a debut novel and that the author just needed to hone her skills a bit more, although it looks like she has quite a few books out after all.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    There’s something strange happening in Rookskill Castle. Mechanical screeches and screams, children disappearing, ghosts inhabiting the castle grounds… and the walls themselves seem to be listening. With a perfectly inhuman villain in Lady Eleanor, a plucky and determined cast of young sleuths, and set in the middle of the Second World War, each page carries the reader deeper into the mystery… and the danger. Janet Fox has created a new classic: an eerie, gripping gothic tale for children that su There’s something strange happening in Rookskill Castle. Mechanical screeches and screams, children disappearing, ghosts inhabiting the castle grounds… and the walls themselves seem to be listening. With a perfectly inhuman villain in Lady Eleanor, a plucky and determined cast of young sleuths, and set in the middle of the Second World War, each page carries the reader deeper into the mystery… and the danger. Janet Fox has created a new classic: an eerie, gripping gothic tale for children that surprises, enchants, and sends real chills up the reader’s spine. Young readers will get lost in the pages of The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, searching for answers to the sinister mysteries that lie within. The twists and turns of Janet Fox’s finely-wrought tale will leave kids gasping with surprise and sleeping with the lights on. A terrifyingly irresistible mystery, full of danger, magic, and adventure.

  22. 5 out of 5

    lixel

    when i looked at the cover and the blurb for this book, i was thrilled to read it. the idea is promising, especially the mysterious and eerie setting. unfortunately, the plot just does nothing, and the climax is hardly climatic. i might’ve liked this if i’d read it fourth grade.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brandy Painter

    This was a lovely creepy tale to read the weekend before Halloween. A good recommendation for kids who love the sort of book that is just scary enough without being true horror.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kirsti

    While I essentially enjoyed the story, I did feel like some elements weren't consistent with the London Blitz time period, and at times the story moved forward too slowly for me. I loved the creepy feel, but was slow to get answers. The ending satisfied me, but the 380 pages we took to get there could have used some work. Magic and mystery lovers should enjoy this book, and for older readers as some of the supernatural elements might be frightening. Three stars. While I essentially enjoyed the story, I did feel like some elements weren't consistent with the London Blitz time period, and at times the story moved forward too slowly for me. I loved the creepy feel, but was slow to get answers. The ending satisfied me, but the 380 pages we took to get there could have used some work. Magic and mystery lovers should enjoy this book, and for older readers as some of the supernatural elements might be frightening. Three stars.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ruth E. R.

    Certain to delight any person who reads it, whether (mature) child or grownup. Deliciously disturbing, and innocently spooky, along the lines of Lucy Clifford's "The New Mother." There is also a bit of Faust and Mephistopheles. If you read this past your bedtime, or by flashlight near a campfire, be prepared to jump at things that go bump in the night. On the surface, the plot alone makes a good story, but Janet Fox's complexity and multiple layers of meaning are worth deeper contemplation. For e Certain to delight any person who reads it, whether (mature) child or grownup. Deliciously disturbing, and innocently spooky, along the lines of Lucy Clifford's "The New Mother." There is also a bit of Faust and Mephistopheles. If you read this past your bedtime, or by flashlight near a campfire, be prepared to jump at things that go bump in the night. On the surface, the plot alone makes a good story, but Janet Fox's complexity and multiple layers of meaning are worth deeper contemplation. For example, her villain has been the victim of physical abuse. Her choices in life form a credible illustration of the craving for control and denial of childhood powerlessness that such survivors must either face with courage and seek to heal, or else self-destruct and possibly become the abuser. The Lady feels threatened by the power of a young girl who has been blessed with a caring father and a wise aunt. The Lady is someone who gave in to all the hurts of life, including her unfulfilled desires to have a tender family and a child of her own. She lets her heart grow cold and mechanical. Hurting people hurt people. She ends up treating others as possessions that will fulfill her personal ambitions, rather than giving them innate value and enjoying who they are. This would require her to drop her guard, something she has never dared to do. In the beginning, we see Kat in danger of making a similar choice, to give up on faith and ideals that go beyond herself, especially as her father must leave the family and go off to fight the Germans. During her stay at Rookskill Castle in Scotland, Kat makes a discovery about who she is. In her young life, she has already been given the emotional and practical tools to overcome the great evil she faces. These tools work like magic against dark forces. Specific devices of Kat's magic include mathematical algorithms and beautiful aphorisms, from Plato and Dickens to childhood rhymes and family thimble games. (I am wondering how many 21st century children know what a thimble is...) What sets people free is a combination of love and knowledge. I always admire a hero with a rare combination of mind and heart. A "real and imperfect heart" rather than a perfectly crafted false heart, deceiving the unwary. At Rookskill Castle, we find not only a black sorceress but a "real life" enemy, a Nazi spy, who must be fought and overcome by these same tools of courage and community. By the time I got to chapter 63, I recognized the bit of Lord of the Rings in Fox's story. Kat has a Galadriel moment. We also find that the occult Nazis have a troop hunting for magical artifacts of power to aid their quest for world supremacy. I learned a whole new meaning for "spiritual warfare." I eagerly anticipate the sequel(s) of all of these fascinating and complex protagonists and antagonists. This is a book that respects the intelligence of children. It also expresses the ultimate power in youth to seek and hold onto ideals. What they are taught by loving caregivers will be their guide out of danger. I would like a hard copy of the book, to track down all the aphorisms, since I borrowed mine from the library, which was the audio version marvelously performed by Fiona Hardingham. http://www.aphorismexamples.com/ Jane Fox's political views in real life are deeply disappointing but I cannot deny how clever her book is.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mimi 'Pans' Herondale

    This book was amazing. Definitely a favorite! I expected this book to be historical fiction, and it was, but also sort of a children's horror/fantasy story as well. I wasn't expecting that, but it was a nice surprise. I actually liked that, it made the book more creepy and interesting than it already sounded. The beginning was a little slow and a little boring to tell the truth and the only thing that really interested me were the stories from the past but then the interesting things started happ This book was amazing. Definitely a favorite! I expected this book to be historical fiction, and it was, but also sort of a children's horror/fantasy story as well. I wasn't expecting that, but it was a nice surprise. I actually liked that, it made the book more creepy and interesting than it already sounded. The beginning was a little slow and a little boring to tell the truth and the only thing that really interested me were the stories from the past but then the interesting things started happened, children disappeared and you started learning Lady Eleanor's true and evil nature. Yes, you can tell from the beginning that she isn't one that you can trust. (Does sing to ward off evil, if you already have read this book, then you will know what I am talking about!) My favorite character I think is...well, to tell the truth I can't think of a favorite! I love all of them, they were all great characters, good and evil. I mean, Lady Eleanor is really evil, and I like villains, so I think she is on the list! I also liked Kat, Peter, Amelie, and Isabelle. I didn't really know why it was called "The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle" until I had read it (Hint: it has something to do with children who were charmed at the Rookskill Castle!) The cover was also part of the reason that I have read the book, it looked really cool with the castle and the birds...I just think that I love it! This book is definitely ages 10+, it had nothing bad in it so I think that anyone any ages can read it. Overall, the beginning was the only thing I didn't like, otherwise I would totally recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    My initial reaction to The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle was that it was unnerving, not quite creepy, but very unsettling. The story takes place in Scotland and has all the feel of being mysterious, dark, and drafty. Something seems to be lurking in the corridors of the castle, and there are rumors that the castle is haunted, what with the strange sightings of young children wandering the grounds. Yet, there are only small hints to what this mysterious thing is. The Charmed Children of Ro My initial reaction to The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle was that it was unnerving, not quite creepy, but very unsettling. The story takes place in Scotland and has all the feel of being mysterious, dark, and drafty. Something seems to be lurking in the corridors of the castle, and there are rumors that the castle is haunted, what with the strange sightings of young children wandering the grounds. Yet, there are only small hints to what this mysterious thing is. The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle begins with some historical background on what a "chatelaine" is, think a charm bracelet but worn at the waist, and a creepy poem about the charms on one particular chatelaine (Lady Eleanor's). The plot then slowly unfolds with each chapter alternating between time periods, characters, charms on the chatelaines and just what the Lady of Rookskill's plans are. I really enjoyed the way the story unfolded, it kept things tense and suspenseful, so much that it was very hard to put it down. I really wanted to see how everything was going to come together and boy did it. Lovely atmospheric story, with great historical details and suspense, plus Fox leaves things open enough that there could be another book. A review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review via a Giveaway hosted at Word Spelunking

  28. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE by Janet Fox is a historical fantasy mystery set in a spooky old Scottish castle. Kat has been sent to an eerie boarding school to avoid the Blitz during the Second World War. Although she tries to find a logical explanation for the disappearance of children and other spooky happenings, she begins to realize that evil lurks around every turn. The author uses a chatelaine, charms, and flashbacks to earlier time periods to add depth to the story. Written for THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE by Janet Fox is a historical fantasy mystery set in a spooky old Scottish castle. Kat has been sent to an eerie boarding school to avoid the Blitz during the Second World War. Although she tries to find a logical explanation for the disappearance of children and other spooky happenings, she begins to realize that evil lurks around every turn. The author uses a chatelaine, charms, and flashbacks to earlier time periods to add depth to the story. Written for upper middle grade youth, this creepy story will have readers on the edge of their seats imagining ghosts, spies, and sinister magic. Librarians will find that fans of steampunk fiction and spooky castles will immediately be drawn to this historical fantasy. However, this scary mystery may be too much for younger readers. To learn more about the author, go to http://janetsfox.com/. Published by Viking Books for Young Readers an imprint of Penguin on March 15, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Thompson

    I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. This is a dark and suspenseful tale that is a blend of what YA readers love: ghost story, steampunk fiction, historical fiction and magical fantasy. In 1746, Leonore yearns for a child to save her marriage to the lord of Rookskill Castle. So much so that she is willing to make a dark pact with the Magister who trades her charms to enchant children and ensnare their souls. Now, in 1940, Kat, Robert, and Amelie are sent to Rookskill Cas I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. This is a dark and suspenseful tale that is a blend of what YA readers love: ghost story, steampunk fiction, historical fiction and magical fantasy. In 1746, Leonore yearns for a child to save her marriage to the lord of Rookskill Castle. So much so that she is willing to make a dark pact with the Magister who trades her charms to enchant children and ensnare their souls. Now, in 1940, Kat, Robert, and Amelie are sent to Rookskill Castle Academy to avoid the Blitz of London. Strange events begin to occur immediately when they arrive. When the other children at the school begin to disappear the children must try to unravel the mystery of Rookskill Castle and the strange Lady Eleanor. This suspenseful book will have readers tearing through the pages to learn the fate of the children and to see if the pragmatic Kat can learn to trust in the magic of her ancestors in time to defeat the evil Lady Eleanor.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Fantasy Literature

    The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, Janet Fox’s middle-grade fantasy adventure has a smart, feisty girl hero; it has clockwork steampunk, the London Blitz, spies, sinister rooks who seem to be speaking, and magic. And lots of atmosphere! Katherine Bateson, who goes by Kat, is the oldest of three children and her watchmaker father’s favorite. It is World War II, and America hasn’t entered the war yet. The Blitz has made London unsafe and many families are sending their children out of town. The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, Janet Fox’s middle-grade fantasy adventure has a smart, feisty girl hero; it has clockwork steampunk, the London Blitz, spies, sinister rooks who seem to be speaking, and magic. And lots of atmosphere! Katherine Bateson, who goes by Kat, is the oldest of three children and her watchmaker father’s favorite. It is World War II, and America hasn’t entered the war yet. The Blitz has made London unsafe and many families are sending their children out of town. In addition to fixing watches and clocks, Father also disappears into dangerous parts of Europe, and that “job” can only be discussed in hints and codes. Kat, her brother Robbie and little sister Amelie are sent away to a private school in Scotland, called Rookskill Castle Academy. Kat is logical, mathematical, smart a... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...

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