Whether or not you've read Gail Carson Levine before, you are still probably familiar with her work. Levine is probably most known for being the author of "Ella Enchanted", which is, of course, a cute movie starring Anne Hathaway.
If you enjoyed "Ella Enchanted" (the book or the movie), you'll enjoy "A Tale of Two Castles."
Young Elodie is sent from her home and across the sea to Two Castles, where her parents hope she'll train to be a weaver, but Elodie hopes to become an actress. When she arrives, however, her luck goes south almost right away.
Her money is stolen by a cat and she isn't accepted into the actor's guild. But when the dragon Masteress Leenor offers Elodie a job as an assistant, Elodie finds herself headfirst on a dangerous mission inside an ogre's castle.
Even though the ogre has a heart of gold, his ugly appearance has someone wanting him dead, and it's up to Elodie to find out who. Then there is the constant danger of the whited sepulcher --- someone beautiful who has a heart filled with evil.
With dragons, ogres, thieving cats, and wide array different characters, "A Tale of Two Castles" shows young readers not to judge people based on appearances alone.
Even though Elodie is 12 years old, she reads much older, and it's very easy to forget that she's so young. As much as I loved Elodie, I loved the dragon so much more. Leenor is witty, but with a cheeky sense of humor. The dragon teaches Elodie to use deduction and common sense to solve riddles and problems.
Older readers may discover the villian right away, but it doesn't distract from the overall story. I think readers of all ages will enjoy this cute and fun read.