There May Be A Castle by Piers Torday


I’m ashamed to say that until yesterday, I’d not read any of Piers Torday’s work. Hearing the high praise The Last Wild Series receives I know his books are, without a doubt, books I should have read and it was about time I made a start.

I was inspired to read There May Be A Castle by Anne Thompson* on a recent Twitter thread. The chat was about children’s books that involve tragedy and this and the heart-wrenching A Monster Calls were both highlighted.

This is one of those reviews where I feel I need to include details of the plot sparingly so as to avoid spoilers, therefore I will keep it purposefully brief. What I can absolutely say though is that There May Be A Castle is truly like nothing I have read before. It’s highly original, gripping, utterly bizarre in places and a heart-breaking yet suprisingly uplifting read.

It’s Christmas Eve and Mouse Mallory’s family are making the journey across the moors to visit his grandparents at their farmhouse. The weather conditions are treacherous, dusk is settling and snow is already drifting.

As siblings so often do, Mouse, baby sister Esmè and big sister Violet start to argue in the back of the car. Mum is already struggling to keep their SUV on the road, but a squabble over the i-pad causes her to loose control of the vehicle.

The car skids off the road into a field and rolls down a hill. Mouse is thrown through the windscreen into the snow. When he wakes, he finds himself in a magical landscape, with only a talkative sheep for company. His childhood toys, a horse called Nonky and dinosaur Trex, also appear and so begins an extraordinary and magical quest through a world of wonder.

A world of monsters, minstrels, dangerous knights and mysterious wizards; a frozen landscape of terrifying danger but also more excitement than Mouse has ever known.

There may be a castle says Nonky, somewhere, beyond. But why is Mouse looking for a castle? He begins to remember the accident and as memories of his family back at the car begin to return, Mouse realises this might be the most important journey he will ever make …

Meanwhile, trapped upside down in the wreckage by her seat belt, Violet regains consciousness. It’s pitch dark and the snow is still falling, quickly covering all evidence of the accident with a thick white blanket. The story enters a dual narrative with Chapters alternating between the two siblings. Without hope of anyone finding them and time quickly running out, what will become of the Mallory family…And where is Mouse?

This is real, hard-hitting life and death stuff, cleverly intertwined with magical fantasy. I am still reeling from Mouse’s unforgettable journey. It’s definitely one of those books that will stay with me for a long time. The Last Wild Collection sits firmly on my #BooksIShouldHaveRead list -and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in another of Piers Torday’s expertly crafted worlds very soon.

There May Be A Castle was published by Quercus Children’s Books and is available now from all good bookshops.

* #BooksIShouldHaveRead is a blog series recently created by the brilliant Mr Tom Slattery – follow him on Twitter Here

*Anne Thompson is the author of Reading Matters, a weekly round-up of Children’s Book News published every Saturday – follow her on Twitter for amazing book recommendations Here

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