The Castle in the Attic: A cozy, heartwarming medieval tale

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop fantasy book reviewThe Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

The Castle in the Attic is a warm story about a boy, an old toy castle, and a much-loved housekeeper. William does not want his babysitter, Mrs. Phillips, to leave him and return to England. William swears he will do anything to keep her with him (absolutely anything). But when she gives him her old miniature stone castle and its lone knight, William fears there will be no way to keep her around. Until the knight comes to life.

The story of William and the Silver Knight is nothing if not heartwarming. William is a very kind boy and loves his housekeeper very much. She has been there his whole life, and he does not want to let her go. In the castle in his attic, he meets the Silver Knight: not a metallic toy but a very real (very tiny) knight. The spell that was cast on him had been broken, and the Silver Knight (Sir Simon) wants to go back to his world and reclaim his kingdom.

A simple tale, this story has the medieval feel and usual cast of characters: the fearless knight, fair lady, evil sorcerer, fire-breathing dragon and unlikely hero. Yet with all this it is still a worthwhile read. Elizabeth Winthrop tells a story that touches the heart; Simon is not just any carbon-copy knight, nor is the dragon, or anyone else for that matter. The settings are vivid and easy to picture, from castle to evil forest to countryside, each place is expertly set out and is very real.

All the characters in The Castle in the Attic are very much real people. Not one, even the ones met only briefly, are at all shallow. William grows as a person throughout the book, even if he is just a ten-year-old. He does what he would do, and the writer doesn’t try to make him anything else but a kid on a mission.

Overall, The Castle in the Attic is a cozy, heartwarming medieval tale anyone could enjoy reading in an afternoon or two.  It’s a wonderful break from heavier works, but not without its own deep themes for young readers.

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SKYE WALKER, on FanLit’s staff since September 2014 (but hanging around since 2007), is from Canada, where she is currently a University student studying Anthropology and Communications. When she isn’t reading or doing school work (or reading for school work) she can be found in one of three places: in a tent in the woods, amid a sea of craft supplies on a floor somewhere, or completing the task of finishing her ‘Must Watch’ movie list. Skye was practically born with a love of fantasy and science fiction (as her name might suggest). These days her favourite authors include Ursula Le Guin, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Chris Wooding. Skye is in fact a Jedi (we know you were waiting for it).

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  1. Ha! Thanks for reminding me of this! I purchased this book from a book fair when I was in the 5th grade; I found it so provocative! This sort of YA fantasy (comparable, I think, to Lloyd Alexander and his *Prydain* novels), has always endeared itself to me. And it continues to in spite of the complicated mess my tastes in fantasy literature has become! Thanks again!

  2. Kieran /

    Wow, I read this as a child and loved it and had forgotten all about it. Thanks for resparking my memory, Caitlinn!


  1. Castle in the Attic | Fantasy Literature: Fantasy and Science Fiction Book and Audiobook Reviews - [...] California Young Reader Medal Winner, A Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Winner.  …

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