The Castle in the Attic: A cozy, heartwarming medieval tale

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop fantasy book reviewThe Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

The Castle in the Attic is a warm story about a boy, an old toy castle, and a much-loved housekeeper. William does not want his babysitter, Mrs. Phillips, to leave him and return to England. William swears he will do anything to keep her with him (absolutely anything). But when she gives him her old miniature stone castle and its lone knight, William fears there will be no way to keep her around. Until the knight comes to life.

The story of William and the Silver Knight is nothing if not heartwarming. William is a very kind boy and loves his housekeeper very much. She has been there his whole life, and he does not want to let her go. In the castle in his attic, he meets the Silver Knight: not a metallic toy but a very real (very tiny) knight. The spell that was cast on him had been broken, and the Silver Knight (Sir Simon) wants to go back to his world and reclaim his kingdom.

A simple tale, this story has the medieval feel and usual cast of characters: the fearless knight, fair lady, evil sorcerer, fire-breathing dragon and unlikely hero. Yet with all this it is still a worthwhile read. Elizabeth Winthrop tells a story that touches the heart; Simon is not just any carbon-copy knight, nor is the dragon, or anyone else for that matter. The settings are vivid and easy to picture, from castle to evil forest to countryside, each place is expertly set out and is very real.

All the characters in The Castle in the Attic are very much real people. Not one, even the ones met only briefly, are at all shallow. William grows as a person throughout the book, even if he is just a ten-year-old. He does what he would do, and the writer doesn’t try to make him anything else but a kid on a mission.

Overall, The Castle in the Attic is a cozy, heartwarming medieval tale anyone could enjoy reading in an afternoon or two.  It’s a wonderful break from heavier works, but not without its own deep themes for young readers.

Castle in the Attic — (1985-1993) Ages 8 and up. Publisher: One of the classic fantastical adventures of all time! William has just received the best present of his life — an old, real-looking stone and wooden model of a castle, with a drawbridge, a moat, and a fingerhigh knight to guard the gates. It’s the mysterious castle his housekeeper has told him about, and even though William is sad she’s leaving, now the castle is his! William can’t wait to play with the castle — he’s certain there’s something magical about it. And sure enough, when he picks up the tiny silver knight, it comes alive in his hand! Sir Simon tells William a mighty story of wild sorcery, wizards, and magic. And suddenly William is off on a fantastic quest to another land and another time — where a fiery dragon and an evil wizard are waiting to do battle… An IRA-CBC Children’s Choice, A California Young Reader Medal Winner, A Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Winner.

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SKYE WALKER, who has been on FanLit’s staff since September 2014 (after a brief time on staff as a YA reviewer in 2007-2008), is from Canada. Their HBA in Anthropology and Communications allowed them to write an Honours paper on podcasting as the modern oral tradition of storytelling: something they will talk about at any and all opportunities. Skye is a communications professional in the non-profit sector. These days their favourite authors include Ursula K Le Guin, Bo Bolander, and Chris Wooding. They can be found on social media @tskyewalker

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  1. Ha! Thanks for reminding me of this! I purchased this book from a book fair when I was in the 5th grade; I found it so provocative! This sort of YA fantasy (comparable, I think, to Lloyd Alexander and his *Prydain* novels), has always endeared itself to me. And it continues to in spite of the complicated mess my tastes in fantasy literature has become! Thanks again!

  2. Kieran /

    Wow, I read this as a child and loved it and had forgotten all about it. Thanks for resparking my memory, Caitlinn!

  3. Thank you so much for reviewing my book, The Castle in the Attic. I’m at work on a prequel (shhhh….)and so happy to be back with my favorite characters.


  1. Castle in the Attic | Fantasy Literature: Fantasy and Science Fiction Book and Audiobook Reviews - [...] California Young Reader Medal Winner, A Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Winner.   Tweet December 14th, 2006. Posted by…

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