Read Recently — June 2016 — I am running out of humourous headlines pertaining to witches

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

Castle Hangnail is in some trouble. A magic castle, it is without a master or mistress and if the situation goes on it will be decertified and sold off. Fortunately, a new Mistress is about to arrive: a wicked witch. Quite short. Quite young. A school-girl named Molly, actually.

Molly may be lying about a few things. She is a little wicked (she’s the evil twin of her family (well, not evil as such, but her sister is definitely the good twin, sooo)) and she is a witch, though she can’t do much magic. And her presence here could save the castle’s inhabitants: Majordomo, who isn’t a hunchback but makes up for it by walking bent-over, Lord Edward von Hallenbrock, an animated suit of armour with bad knees, Cook, a minotaur who hates the letter Q, Pins, not so much a voodoo doll as a small burlap figure who likes to knit, and Serenissima, a steam genie (child of a jinn and a shopkeeper who had some mermaid ancestry) who lives in a teakettle and cleans the castle by walking around it. And it isn’t as if there’s anyone else, someone wickeder and more powerful, likely to show up. All Molly has to do is a few simple Tasks . . .

This reminded me a little of Martinez’s Too Many Curses, only kid-friendlier. And that is the thing: it’s for Young Readers. And in hardcover. But it’s a fun story, well-written, and marvelously illustrated by Vernon herself. Highly recommended.


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