No One Leaves the Castle

No One Leaves the Castle
Age Range
8+
Release Date
August 15, 2023
ISBN
978-0062341945
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The Lilac. The bard songs say that she’s the world’s most fearsome bounty hunter. That there’s no criminal she can’t catch, no mystery she can’t solve.

None of that is true. Yet.

In reality, the Lilac is just a kid, and the bard who wrote all that is her best friend, Dulcinetta. But the Lilac has set her goals on becoming the best bounty hunter in the Thirteen Kingdoms—and when a priceless artifact goes missing from the home of famed monster hunter Baron Angbar, the Lilac and Netta are eager to apprehend the thief and make a name for themselves.

But when their investigation brings them to a dinner party at Castle Angbar, and they meet the Angbar family and their servants and guests—an unsavory group of nobles, mages, and assorted creatures, each more shady than the last—the Lilac begins to wonder if the reward is worth the trouble.

And that’s before the dead body is discovered.

Now everyone is magically sealed inside the castle—and there is a murderer among them. If the Lilac wants to make it out with her reputation intact, it’s going to be up to her to figure out who the killer is. But everyone in the castle—even the Lilac herself—has secrets to hide, and as the walls literally start to close in around them, the Lilac worries that her first job as a bounty hunter may be her last. . . . 

Editor review

1 review
Navigating a maize of lies
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
The story has a humorous angle to it that will make readers smile, or perhaps groan. A novice bard follows the exploits of the young heroine named the Lilac and creates a song about her along the way. The lyrics aren’t always flattering, some situations shouldn’t be immortalized, and trying to find words that rhyme with Gribbinshood Flornt is a challenge. The ogre guarding the front gate of a baron’s castle always shows up late and his ineptitude becomes expected. The baron’s daughter is obsessed with etiquette but that attitude is in stark contrast to her tutor’s unexpected appearance and demeanor. Many characters share sarcastic comments and hidden secrets that contribute additional absurdity to the proceedings.
The Lilac is an unexpected hero as she’s a young girl trying to make her name as a bounty hunter. It’s not clear in the beginning, but she’s hiding an important secret that will be revealed later in the plot. The Lilac is commissioned by a wizard to hunt down and capture whoever stole a baron’s emerald axe that surprisingly reappears in its display case shortly after she arrives. Lilac’s role changes to detective in order to clear a wizard’s name but then evolves even further into discovering a murderer in their midst. Investigating a killing is a huge step up for a girl with less than one bounty hunt experience to her name but she’s willing to accept the challenge. Lilac must battle her own insecurities along the way and she encounters constantly changing stories in order to reveal the many secrets being masked by all of the characters.
This type of mystery is captivating since all of the suspects are trapped within the walls of the castle. The guilty individual can’t escape so the veiled motivations make him/her an unpredictable, dangerous character. Readers won’t know which characters to trust, doubt, and suspect until the truth eventually comes out. The Lilac considers each character a suspect and their different motives are uncovered as the plot moves along. Baron Agbar hates magic and is a very disagreeable man so stealing his own axe and killing isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. He hates that his son is training to become a wizard so there’s a natural conflict between the two men. The baron’s wife is the children’s stepmother and little is shared about her past but she seems concerned about maintaining the respected family name. Valuable objects continue to disappear around the castle and Lilac discovers several blackmail notes, although it isn’t clear which character, or characters, is being blackmailed.
What didn’t work as well:
Literally, every character in the story, including the protagonist, is guarding a secret which causes the scenarios to constantly change. Readers can usually trust the main characters for stability but that’s missing in this plot. However, the multitude of undisclosed truths and clandestine efforts create the mystery and humor readers will enjoy.
The Final Verdict:
This book tells a very entertaining story that young readers will love. Every character is a suspect in the murder mystery and new subplots will be revealed until the very end. I can heartily recommend you give this book a shot!
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