"No clue about why the Queen vanished had ever been found. Until now..."
The day Charlie discovers a scrap of paper that could solve the dark mystery of her mother's disappearance, her world changes. Forever. Charlie and her friend, Toby, must race against time on a dangerous mission to uncover the sinister truth. But in this shadowy world of secrets and lies, there is more to fear than they can possibly imagine... (from Goodreads)
Castle of Shadows begins with the introduction of our heroine, the rather unruly Princess Charlie. After her mother had disappeared, Charlie's father, the King, chose to seclude himself from the Castle in order to build towers with packs of playing cards. Due to her father's absence, Charlie is now forced to take orders from Mrs O'Dair, the horrible woman in charge of the Castle. But when Charlie finds a letter from her mother in an old library book, she begins to question her mother's disappearance and finds herself unsatisfied with the answers she is being given. With help from Tobias, the gardener's boy, Charlie digs deep into the past in search for the truth and encounters dangers unlike anything she has ever known before.
I really enjoyed Castle of Shadows; it was exciting and dangerous and one of those books that you just can't put down. The main character Charlie is strong-willed, fiery and determined, and will do anything to find out more about her mother and protect her father. Tobias, who is equally determined but very loyal and full of snark, starts off as just another servant, who enjoys teasing the Princess. But when the pair are forced to trust each other and form an alliance, a begrudging bond eventually leads to friendship and Charlie and Tobias learn to stand up for themselves and one another, and stay with each other no matter what.
Other characters I really liked were Mr. Moleglass and Mrs O'Dair. Mr Moleglass is so kind and helpful and always worrying about the children's safety; he really cares about the people and the kingdom. Mrs O'Dair, on the other hand, is the perfect villain; a mixture of bitter, angry and crazy with no remorse. I also liked the Resistance's part in the book, and I think that they had a great impact on Charlie and the decisions she made. Another thing I enjoyed was the description of Charlie in dresses and petticoats. It still makes me laugh to think of her sweating and huffing and puffing in these clothes she obviously hates.
Overall, Castles of Shadows is a wonderful book that pulls you in and keeps you reading until you're finished. Recommended for ages 8-12 and young teens.