Wrong cover, as so often happens with library books, but I couldn't find an image for the edition I read.
Title: The Enchanted Castle
Author: E. Nesbit (Edith Nesbit)
Publisher: E.P Dutton & Sons, 1963, for the Illustrated Children's Classics Series. Original publication 1907. 231 pages.
Source: library booksale
Siblings Gerald, James, and Katherine are stuck at her boarding school during the vacation, and soon discover a nearby castle--and a sleeping princess. The princess turns out to be Mabel, the housekeeper's niece, but the enchantments turn out to be real. A magic ring causes no end of adventures, and wreaks no end of havok before they manage to get everything straightened out.
I believe that the only other of Nesbit's books I've read is The Railway Children, which is not fantasy but a bit of generally light fiction, so I had no idea what to expect of this book. I definitely didn't expect quite what I got, and I'm not sure I like what I read. I had no issues with the characters, who are sufficiently human and as likeable as they need to be. But I admit to being taken aback by how dark (or maybe just plain creepy) parts of the story are. Despite how accustomed kids today are to reading books where frightening things happen, there was a creepiness to the middle of the book, especially the chapters about the Ugly-Wugglies, that I found disturbing. All that creepiness is taken care of in the end, and the story never really feels like the children are in true danger, and that in a way made the story less satisfying to me (and maybe even a bit creepier).
The story is well put-together, though the end is a bit predictable, so what we really have here is my own personal reaction to it. I don't think there's anything really wrong with it. Just be aware that a child who is disturbed by the macabre might well be given nightmares by this one, and that it may not be to everyone's taste. The book might fall into the very popular category of books about children who stumble into a magical world, but this one is actually about children who accidentally bring the magic into our ordinary world. Since I'm fed up with gates into magic worlds, I found it a refreshing change in that sense, and now that I'm done enjoy contemplating the paradoxes that created.
For those who enjoy a classic British children's tale, and aren't disturbed by icky creatures coming to life and other strange events. It is also interesting to read this in perspective: it pre-dates Narnia, and even Middle Earth. In fact, I'm not sure how much fantasy had been written by 1907, which casts it in rather a different light.
Full Disclosure: I purchased The Enchanted Castle, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."