Have you noticed there’s a “princess craze” gripping the entire globe for the last couple of years? My granddaughters have a bin filled with Cinderella, Elsa , Anna, Aurora, and Ariel princess gowns and more. I lose track of all the princess names.
Little girls love to dress up as royalty. Princesses are beautiful, kind, and good. They can sing and dance so gracefully. And everyone knows that good kings adore their daughters and will bless them with all sorts of good things.
As a little girl, I wanted to be a princess, too. I read the same fairy tales over and over, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and then—
I discovered Shadow Castle.
Shadow Castle was almost twenty years old when I first read it, and I lost count of how many times I delved into the book devouring it from cover to cover. Marian Cockrell filled her story with fairy princes and princesses, goblins and witches. Beautiful creatures were good inside and out, ugly creatures were evil.
Like Alice in Wonderland, a little girl (Lucy) follows a dog (instead of a rabbit) into a tunnel (instead of a rabbit hole) and discovers a magical world. She meets a young man named Michael who shows her around his castle. In the top room of the tower, one can sit and watch shadows moving about, shadows that belong to people in the land of the fairies. Michael points out various shadows and tells Lucy their stories.
I was enchanted. Three fairy tales in one. Gossamer gowns, fancy balls, evil villains, courageous heroes. And mystery. When would Shadow Castle return to its rightful place? And why was Michael the only person living in this magical land?
The book disappeared into that black hole of childhood discarded. When I decided I wanted to read it again and review it, no library near me owned a copy, but it has been reprinted. So I dug into my pockets and bought it. And read it.
Alas, I have grown up. The reviews on Amazon reflected my own disappointment. So many of us had loved the story as children, but as adults? Meh.
First published in 1945, Shadow Castle is written in the style of a fairy tale with some twentieth century language tossed in. Bestselling authors don’t write like that anymore, not for adults, not for children. But if you have a daughter who adores the Disney princess films and accompanying books, she will probably love the stories of Mika and Gloria, Robin and Bluebell, Flame and Foam.
Magic and mystery. Good versus evil. Happily ever after. Let our children dream for a little while.
P.S. Can you find the very obscure clue I tucked into this post that is the key to Shadow Castle’s mystery?