Escape from Wolfhaven Castle by Kate Forsyth
The Impossible Quest : bk 1. Scholastic Australia, 2014.
(Age: 9-12) Recommended. Escape from Wolfhaven Castle is the introductory book in this new series from Scholastic. Set in a fantasy world of castles, lords and ladies, knights and squires not to mention bog-men and unicorns, Kate Forsyth's opening
'Tell your lord to beware,' the wild man said, gripping Tom's arm with a dirty hand. 'The wolves smell danger in the wind.'
immediately creates an expectation of action and drama, encouraging the reader to ask questions and read on.
We are introduced to castle life as Tom, the cook's son, attempts to pass the message on. When he helps win a game of mob-ball against the squires, he incurs the wrath of Sebastian, one of the squires, in the process. Whilst escaping Sebastian, Tom happens to meet Lady Elanor in her tower room.
The castle folk assemble to celebrate midsummer with a feast and are joined by Lord Mortlake, from the neighbouring Frostwick Castle, who is keen to broker a deal Lord Wolfgang. During the evening Arwen, the Grand Teller, also dramatically foretells of death and danger but her warning is not acted upon except by Quinn, Arwen's apprentice, and Tom who decide to keep watch.
Tom, Quinn, Lady Elanor, Sebastian and Tom's trusty wolfhound Fergus are the only ones to escape Wolfhaven Castle three weeks later when it is overrun by a mysterious leader and his army of Bog-men. Arwen entrusts them with some strange but obviously useful gifts and the spell which will save the castle, before they escape.
The adventure begins. All they need to do now is find a Unicorn, Griffin, Sea Serpent and a Dragon, a seemingly impossible quest.
Whilst at times the story line and character interaction appear a little predictable, Kate Forsyth's descriptive, easy to read style and the continuing action within the story keeps the reader interested. The encounter at Frostwick Castle with Lady Mortlake and the children's escape with her final threat ringing in their wake, leaves the reader keen to follow the story in the next book.