‘The Castle’ is a fun adventure story about schoolgirl Peta Jones, who makes a mission out of finding her missing army hero dad. It’s an easy read for the youngest YA readers. The plot isn’t unique, but the set-up about ‘finding dad’ works great and the pace is high and the tone is warm and wonderful.

by Peter

Title:

‘The Castle’

Author:

Sophia Bennett

Pages:

300

Reading Level:

Advanced Beginner

Published:

August 7th, 2014

Publisher:

Chicken House

Advance Reading Copy, Thank You:

Chicken House

Feelings Thermometer:






Peta Jones is surprisingly not a boy, but an ordinary schoolgirl. She’s also daddys girl, but dad’s gone. He never came back from a military operation in Baghdad, supposedly killed by a roadside bomb, and now Peta’s mum just can’t wait to remarry some random guy.

Even though Peta’s mobile embarrassingly goes off in the middle of the church and almost ruins the wedding ceremony, Peta’s mum tries to forgive her daughter before she leaves her for the honeymoon. But Peta doesn’t forgive her mum.

Obviously her father hasn’t died, because his body has never been discovered, and Peta’s absolutely sure that she can find him, if she really makes her best effort into it.

When Peta gets a suspicious call from an unknown guy, who tries to warn her about some people, who’s looking for her, things gets dangerous. Peta leaves her grandparents. She’s on the run.

But why not change the situation in her fathers spirit? Why should she be chased like a mouse, when she can start her own mission, chasing the persons who keeps her father secretly imprisoned?

Peta hides in a moving truck to get closer to her daddys captors, and she succeed more than she ever hoped for.

Excerpt from ‘The Castle’

Rupert’s broody and good-looking, like a Brontë hero, and it isn’t exactly Mum’s fault that she let her hormones run away with her. We studied it in biology, but she just got antsy when I tried to explain it to her. She thinks this is true love. She wants a nice, romantic wedding and a honeymoon in the
Caribbean. I want a quiet life.
‘And do you, Isabelle Maria Henrietta, take this man,
Rupert Simon . . .’
The hush of the congregation is suddenly shattered by very loud music. I recognise it straight away: Roxanne Wills singing ‘Walk Away’ – her club hit from a couple of years ago. It’s coming from one of the front rows. The vicar looks up. We all glance round.

Walk away, uh-huh, don’t look back
Walk away down a different track

We look up and down. The eight-year-old on the opposite aisle wiggles her hips to the music. From the front row, my grandmother’s furious stare could cut the wedding cake all by itself.

Walk away, uh-huh, he’s no good
Walk away like you know you should

It wails on and on and nobody stops it. The horrible truth sinks in. A certain bridesmaid realises that her phone is going off in her bag. When she looks down, she can actually see the bag vibrating at her feet. She simply can’t be seen to lean forward and pick it up at this crucial moment, and so admit she was the one who chose this ringtone.

First impression was: Beautiful book, amazing cover with golden letters, and the story sounds actually thrilling. What I actually discovered while reading was, that the story isn’t quite for the older teens, which I first thought after reading the blurb. But I soon discovered that ‘The Castle’ is a story for the oldest children and the youngest YA readers.

Peta is loveable and behaving like a real teenager, questioning everything, but also with a lot of self-irony in her thoughts, and that creates many funny situations and a light and warm tone throughout the whole story. I liked that very much.

The story has been seen before, and it’s really a bit too simple. Someones captured, and the good guys has to free him from the bad guys. Everyone knows from the beginning that Peta will find her dad, but after all the story is more about the journey and the peculiar relationship Peta’s dad has to his daughter, when she finally saves him.

The book’s also about, how it’s like to be left behind by an army hero James Bond kind of irresponsible dad, when you more needed a dad at home, who could make you a nice cuppa and ask how your school day was. And I quite liked that part of ‘The Castle’ the most.