Troubled times stir up magic during the London Blitz in Janet Fox’s haunting middle-grade debut.
Hitler is making his move on England. Kat Bateson and siblings have been instructed to attend the children’s academy at Rookskill Castle in Scotland. Before leaving, great-aunt Margaret gives Kat her magical chatelaine, an odd key chain-like ornament. The Bateson children join four additional students, and soon the seven-fold contingent find that they are trapped under the firm control of the mysterious Lady Eleanor. Between creepy noises and ghostly children, most of the students believe the castle is haunted. Kat believes that the Lady is harboring a spy, and her suspicion is confirmed by the location of machinery. Yet all this pales in comparison to the steady disappearance of more and more students.
Fox’s original story is a stunning combination of espionage and dark magic set within a World War II realm. Key to Fox’s writing style is the way she builds the personas of her European and American cast by tightly entwining them within a dystopian period. Fox goes a step further by filling her third-person narrative with catchy subplots. As a result, Fox keeps her narrative flowing with a careful mix of character scenes and backstories set in the 1700s and 1800s—all filled with twists and turns and closing on a chilling note.
The Charmed Children of Rookskill is a gripping page-turner that has silver-screen potential.