What Can Be Scarier Than War?


“The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle” by Janet Fox is, indeed a story of children torn from their homes during what is arguably the most devastating war of history, but it is also a story of charms, magic, mystery, and ghosts, subjects that take the forefront in this complicated and spooky tale of something more frightening than war.

Kat Bateson is one of many children sent away from London during the bombings in WWII, charged with protecting her siblings while they reside at Rookskill Castle, a home for children like the Batesons who have been sent away for safety. She is determined to do her job well, keeping the younger ones out of trouble and in school while staying her father’s “logical girl”.

She and Peter, an American boy who wound up in London at the wrong time, and has taken a liking to Kat, soon discover, however that frostbite and missed lessons aren’t the only things she has to protect the little ones-and herself-from. Determined to prove that logic will always rule, she tries again and again to discount the strange occurrences, but it is obvious that many things are awry at this quaint Scottish castle.

It is up to Kat and Peter to find out who (or what) is causing the strange noises at night, the appearance of spy equipment just outside, and the seemingly empty children who wander the castle.

This novel presents the idea “what if there was something even worse than the war” in an enthralling way that surprises and thrills. Though amazing and a “5 out of 5” star book, “…Rookskill Castle” is not to be recommended for everyone. It seems to aim itself towards younger readers, but quickly turns dark, limiting the age group it appeals to.

For this reason it would probably not be suitable for the average child under 9. To all over that age, however, it would make an enjoyable read, though possibly not as engaging a read to someone of a higher reading level at any age. To those who have not completely let go of magic, or wish they had not done so, this is the book for you.