The Enchanted Castle

by Edith Nesbit

Hardcover, 1992



Local notes

Fic Nes





HarperCollins (1992), Edition: 1st Edition Thus, 304 pages. $22.95.


Three children discover an old country estate during their school holidays. When they're exploring it they come upon a mysterious young girl claiming to be a fairy princess. She shows them the castle's treasure, including a ring that will turn you invisible. But no one is more surprised than she when she slips it on her finger ... and disappears! The ring is indeed magical, and the children waste no time finding out what else it can do.

Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

304 p.; 6.75 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member ed.pendragon
There are two types of enchantment in this book. One is the everyday sort, evidenced by how enthralled the reader might be as they proceed through the book, and especially by the young charmer Gerald who sweet-talks his way through pretty much every situation. This is enchantment that lives up to
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the term's origins, where chanting, speaking, singing and silent perusal of words creates the magic that keeps us literally in its spell.

Then there is the sort of enchantment that manifests itself most strikingly in this book, the kind described eloquently by Nesbit herself in Chapter Nine: "There is a curtain, thin as gossamer, clear as glass, strong as iron, that hangs forever between the world of magic and the world that seems to us to be real. And when once people have found one of the little weak spots in that curtain which are marked by magic rings, and amulets and the like, almost anything may happen." And in 'The Enchanted Castle' they inevitably do.

The theme of the book can be described as "Be careful what you wish for." Siblings Gerald, Kathleen and James find themselves absolutely free to enjoy their affluent middle-class summer holiday in a West of England private school, near the village of Liddlesby. A youthful expedition takes them into the grounds of Yalding Castle where they meet with housekeeper's daughter Mabel and find that magic of the everyday sort gets rapidly superceded by enchantment that makes their holidays unforgettable.

Nesbit wrote for a middle-class audience of more than a century ago and sensibilities in manners and language have shifted over that time, but not so much that we can't have sympathy for the children that Nesbit has conjured up for this tale. Witty resourceful Gerald steals the show but Mabel impresses too, and Mademoiselle's literal translations into English of French vocabulary and idioms are well and humorously observed. The joyous culmination of the enchantments has much in common with The Piper at the Gates of Dawn chapter of the nearly contemporary 'Wind in the Willows'; both works perhaps were a kind of final golden vision of Edwardian England before the horrors of the Great War were visited on all and sundry.
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LibraryThing member jopearson56
What a fun book! Surprising magic. Find an enchanted castle and a sleeping princess. Oops, not, it's not enchanted and she's not a princess. A magic room of jewels? A ring that makes you invisible? Just kidding. Oops -- NOT kidding! Ugly-Wugglies for a pretend audience? Oops, not so pretend. Those
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ugly-wugglies were just plain creepy. An unexpected delight.
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LibraryThing member camcleod
When it was good, it was very, very good, and when it was bad.... Well, let's just say reading the line, "You look like a n*gg*r," made me really glad I'd weeded this from my media center. And what was up with the illustration of that little girl sitting at the feet of the naked Greek god? Maybe
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that was okay a hundred years ago, but let's face it, the gods better get themselves some fig leaves these days. Good parts: I liked the somewhat smarmy older brother's character. Charm, I find, appears to be a lost art among adolescents these days. He could certainly work his way around that French governess. Also, it had been a long, long time since I'd read any Nesbit, and I was expecting something a little more cuddly. This had some SCARY bits. The Ugly-Wuglies totally creeped me out, though I liked the idea of one of them ending up as a London financier.
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LibraryThing member nules
Let me preface this by saying it is a very interesting book, and that I may reveal some things in the story (although not the plot—the plot isn't standard, though, it seems: it's more adventure-driven on a case-by-case basis, kind of like a collection of stories about the same people, only linked
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together, except for the end, which contrasts differently).It is a children's book, of course, so don't expect everything to be as tightly done and seemingly sensical as your average novel.I like the characterization in this story. Gerald sticks out as being quite different from characters in other books of E. Nesbit's, although he may have some similarities, he also has some important differences in style. Mabel is mostly different, too, though maybe she is a tad like the mermaid in Wet Magic. Jimmy is a lot like H. O. in The Treasure Seekers. Kathleen is similar to other girls in E. Nesbit's books (and though similar she is still unique).Historically, this book is noteworthy. It portrays a lot of ideas revisited by other works later on (such as the invisibility ring that lets you see other things while you wear it, and statues that come alive at night—not to mention the dinosaur). I should note that this book was published when Tolkien was just a kid, and ages before Night at the Museum had been conceived.E. Nesbit even hits on an idea I had been (and still am) planning to use myself for a series, although I should probably be quiet about that for now, but I should note that my version of the idea takes place in a largely different framework and in a more structured/intricate fashion—nevertheless, I was surprised to see it (or the hint of it, at least).I like the first 75% of the book most, I think. The ending wraps things up more quickly and neatly than is typical for E. Nesbit, but it seems like something is missing (sort of). I probably would have liked the book more if she had made up something new in place of the mythological gods used, though, as that kind of interferes with my imagining that it as real (since the gods make it obviously religiously different from what I believe and all, and that sort of adds a bitter taste to it), but oh well. I guess I don't have to imagine it's real to like it.
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LibraryThing member thesmellofbooks
A wonderfully written story of magic and Englishness--Nesbit at her strongest--brilliantly read by Johanna Ward.
LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
Gerry, Jimmy and Kathleen have to stay at Kathleen's boarding school one holiday, due to illness elsewhere. They are loosely in the charge of the French mistress, but Gerry manages to charm her and they have a great deal of freedom. They start to explore the neighbourhood and stumble across a
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castle with, so it seems, a young princess who has been asleep for 100 years.

The princess turns out to be Mabel, who befriends the children and shows them some 'magic', using tricks of the castle, only to discover that a particular ring is indeed magical, granting various wishes with a variety of consequences...

The idea is somewhat similar to that of the better-known 'Five Children and It', but with more of a theme of castles and jewels, and the ongoing plot of trying to be nice to the somewhat sad mam'selle who is staying in the school. Sometimes amusing, in a low-key way, this was quite fun to read, although the Kindle version was rather poorly converted, meaning that a lot of the punctuation was missing, making it jar somewhat as I read.

I'm not sure if I ever read this as a child, but I enjoy classic children's fiction, so was pleased to find it free for my Kindle. I assume that in book format it would be easier to read.

Intended for children aged around 8-11, the language is inevitably dated, since the book was first published in 1907. Some of the concepts may seem rather naive, even unpleasant - yet E Nesbit gets nicely into the mind of children, and has produced an enjoyable story. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member antiquary
My brother and I were given this about the same time as The Magic City but I did not like it as well.
LibraryThing member Mialro
Lovely story, very much an old-fashioned fairytale. You can definitely see how her style influenced C.S. Lewis.
LibraryThing member hjjugovic
I'm surprised this "classic" isn't more well-known. The story is quite good, with many surprising twists, wonders, and genuine creepiness. It reminds of some very old fairy tales, in the way magic plays by rules that it takes a long time to understand and it's not always clear what's happeneing and
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if it's good or bad. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member jenzbookshelf
Four English children discover the magic of a ring, a castle, true love, and many adventures. How amazing that over 100 years later this story still enchants children and adults alike. The mix of magic with everyday life is brilliant! My children and I enjoyed reading this story that inspired other
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fabulous authors like C.S. Lewis. We're grateful for Nesbit's creativity that not only kept us spellbound, but also opened the way for many of the modern fantasy books that we love.
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LibraryThing member Bookish59
Loved it along with Nesbit's other titles. Time to re-read and re-acquaint myself with all the fun and magic!
LibraryThing member Crown-of-daisies
What impressed me the most is Nesbit's writing style.
A close second is the old-fashioned fairytale charm of the book.
The characters are wonderful, and so are their adventures.With magic rings, non-living alive creatures, kindly marble gods and overly elongated young girls, it capture the readers
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without falling down the cliff of far-fetchyness.The theme of fantasy meets reality works extremely well and keeps the story truthful and alive.
The perfect classic for a rainy day's worth of reading.
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LibraryThing member trinityofone
Why don't more people know about E. Nesbit? (Kids these days! cries the 22-year-old.) Her fantasies are rich and original, with an undercurrent of creepy that keeps me coming back even as a (semi-)adult(ish-type-person). The sequence with the statues in this book is especially shiver-worthy if
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you've read Nesbit's short horror story, "Man-Size in Marble," which I highly recommend. (It's in the Edward Gorey-edited-and-illustrated "Haunted Looking Glass," recently re-issued.)
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LibraryThing member themulhern
In which the castle turns out to be enchanted in a most unexpected way. A wholly enjoyable Edwardian delight.
LibraryThing member Kat_Hooper
Another endearing children??s fantasy by a woman who obviously knows what children like. You canƒ??t go wrong with Edith Nesbit and most of her books are available free in the public domain.
LibraryThing member paakre
Fantasy of three siblings and a friend who come upon a ring that makes them disappear, or turn into statues, or do other wonderful things. At the heart of the magic is wishing for an enchanted life with all questions answered and a stunning ray of moonlight that makes the world beautiful. There is
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a horrible scare when a bunch of fake people made of broomsticks and cast off clothing come to life, but the brave resourceful hero of the piece figures out how to get rid of them.
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LibraryThing member AJBraithwaite
A childhood favourite - one of those books that's out of copyright now and freely available, even though I gave my own copy away years ago. It was fun to re-read as an adult: Edith Nesbit's style of writing is still just as wonderful to me now as it was when I was ten. She had a great knack of
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understanding life through a child's eyes and presenting her story from a child's point of view, while still putting her authorial stamp on the text.
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LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
An interestingly quirky story - like many Nesbits, a mix of fantasy and utter down-to-earth-ness. Shall we follow the Princess into the Enchanted Castle? Yes, but I want my tea... It switches, rapidly and repeatedly, from kids playing to magic to deep magic and back, and never loses the thread of
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the story. The governess and the lord was pretty obvious as soon as we learned about it; the burglars went off in some interesting directions. The mystery of the ring and its changeability is nicely handled - and turns out to be much deeper than a single magical artifact (though I do wonder about the other oddities in the treasure room). Fun to read (well, the kids bickering got annoying at times, but not too bad), an interesting story - and a possibly too simple and rounded-off ending. I enjoyed it, and may reread.
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LibraryThing member sonofcarc
Much of this is routine tale-spinning, but then there are the Ugly-Wuglies: Crude dummies put together by the protagonist children, and inadvertently wished into life. Nesbit makes them both comic and genuinely terrifying, and works some wonderfully inventive variations on the theme.
LibraryThing member jimocracy
Words cannot describe how much this book sucked!
LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
An interesting kids book with fun interjections by the author about life and how things work. These three siblings find an enchanted castle during their summer holidays and then find a magical ring. While they have fun they also learn about responsibility.
It's extrememly dated but it is fun.
LibraryThing member zeborah
Okay so this is the one with the hollow statues. I remembered almost nothing else about the book since reading it as a child, and what vague recollections I did have were muddled chronologically.

The Ugly Wuglies came back to me as I read. I think they felt creepier to me now as an adult than when I
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read as a child (the creepiness reminds me of Frances Hardinge's books though hers are of course far creepier) while by contrast the hollow statue was rather anticlimactic compared to how it had stuck around in my mind all these years.
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½ (308 ratings; 3.8)
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