Reviews for Dragon Castle

Booklist Reviews 2011 September #1
Drawing on his family's own Slovakian ancestry, Bruchac crafts a historical fiction infused with plenty of magic: faeries, animal telepathy, sensate trees, and more. With his parents away at a faerie ball, Rashko, a 15-year-old prince in ancient Slovakia, already has his hands full with the castle staff and his well-meaning but blockheaded older brother. But then the forbidding Baron Temny rides into their valley with a veritable army of vile soldiers, brandishing a letter supposedly from Rashko's parents inviting them to stay. Rashko knows that the baron has ulterior motives--and they might have something to do with the legend of Pavol, the family ancestor whose legendary slaying of a dragon is described by Bruchac in alternating chapters. The mysteries contained in this particular castle are not especially mysterious, but the action is rousing; the characters are easy to love or hate, as the case may be; and this is just the thing for kids working their way up to Paolini. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Rashko, son of a goodhearted but dim king and queen, finds responsibility heavy on his shoulders when his parents are enchanted away to the Silver Lands. Alternating chapters tell the story of Rashko's ancestor Pavol, who defeated a dragon and initiated peace. Gypsy proverbs and frequent interjections add a Slovak flavor to the mountain setting, while humor enlivens the tone. Copyright 2012 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #5
Rashko, the younger -- and only sensible -- son of a goodhearted but dim king and queen, finds responsibility heavy on his shoulders when his parents are enchanted away to the Silver Lands just as their kingdom is threatened by the wicked Baron Temny, who seeks to marry his sorcerous daughter to Rashko's goodhearted but dim brother Paulek. The Baron wants something that was bequeathed to the brothers by their ancestor Pavol, who defeated a dragon and initiated a long reign of peace. Meanwhile, alternating chapters tell Pavol's own story: when his parents are murdered by the invading Dark Lord, Pavol prepares to avenge them under his disguise as Pavol the Foolish. The two narratives encourage parallels, helped along by a mysterious tapestry that shows Pavol's life but also elements from Rashko's; frequent hints in Rashko's narration (unremarked on by Rashko himself) suggest not only that the kingdom is less unprotected than he believes but also that his parents and brother are less feebleminded than he takes them for. While the reader assembles pieces of the puzzle over Rashko's head, Rashko assembles the puzzle of what the Baron is after -- and how to defeat the Baron while remaining true to his peace-loving ancestor Pavol. Gypsy proverbs and frequent interjections add a Slovak flavor to the mountain setting, while humor enlivens the tone -- Pavol's encounter with the dragon is a particularly amusing set piece. The plot coheres into one magnificent whole as the various strands combine for a triumphal finish. anita l. burkam Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 June #1

Noted Native American storyteller and author Bruchac turns to the Slovakian side of his family heritage to produce an entirely fresh and funny fantasy.

All his life, 15-year-old Rashko has suffered his family of fools: his absent-minded, naive father, his terminally innocent mother and especially his permanently happy, utterly simple older brother. His mental superiority is put to the test when, his parents inexplicably absent, the evil Baron Temny arrives at family castle with a small army. His brother is instantly enchanted (literally) by the Baron's oily "daughter," so it's up to Rashko to thwart the Baron and save their tiny domain. Bruchac intersperses Rashko's story with that of his long-ago ancestor, Pavol, who fought a dragon and defeated the Dark Lord. Readers will see fairly quickly that Rashko, for all his vaunted intellect, gives those around him far too little credit. Before the story's out, he will need the assistance of the many endearingly quirky secondary characters that round out the cast, from a couple of wonderful, telepathic wolves and the loyal, preternaturally aware family retainer to a pair of dashing jugglers. Rashko's wry voice reveals a teen whose sense of self-importance is balanced healthily by a goodhearted, winning decency.

The story recalls Lloyd Alexander at his wry, humane best; readers will be happy for every moment they spend at castle Hladka Hvorka. (cast of characters, places, Slovak glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 April #3

Drawing upon his Slovakian heritage, Bruchac (Bearwalker) spins a good-natured and humorous fairy tale set in the castle of Hladka Hvokra. The only intellectual in a family known more for kindness than deep thoughts, overserious Prince Rashko chafes at his brother's gullibility and his parents' foolishness, perpetually concerned for their safety. Soon after the king and queen leave on an unexpected trip, the ominous Baron Tenmy shows up at the front gates of the castle (" ‘nvited guests' may not be the right words for a body of riders large enough to throw up so much dust," reflects Rashko. "Army of invaders is more like it"). As Tenmy and his entourage take up residence in the castle, announcing the betrothal of his daughter to Rashko's older brother, Rashko is forced to seek help, tapping into Hladka Hrovka's best-kept secrets to face his foes and discover his destiny. With its subtle focus on peaceful resistance and use of classic folk-tale elements, this story exudes a gentle sense of fun--even as the heroes battle dragons and evil wizards their victory is never in doubt. Ages 10-up. (June)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 August

Gr 5-8--Prince Rashko, 15, loves his parents and his older brother, Paulek, but is often vexed by their trusting natures and apparent simplemindedness. When the king and queen disappear and sinister Baron Temny shows up at Hladka Hvorka, Rashko feels the full weight of protecting the family castle. Paulek is besotted with Temny's beautiful daughter and accepts the Baron's claim that his entourage is here at his parents' invitation. Rashko sees through the thin ruse but must go along with the charade so as not to provoke an open attack. As Rashko uses his wits to keep the castle safe, he finds himself increasingly drawn to his ancestor Pavol, who defeated the Dark Lord in generations past. Indeed, as Temny's men entrench themselves, it is soon apparent that Temny is the incarnation of the Dark Lord. Drawing on Pavol's wisdom, Rashko is thrust into his own quest to save the kingdom from takeover by evil forces. Along the way, he realizes that he has been too quick to judge his brother and parents, and that their gifts will be just as important in saving the kingdom as his own. While Bruchac's stories often celebrate his Native American roots, this novel, set in the Black Forest in medieval times, honors his Slovakian heritage. The large cast of characters and the generous sprinkling of Slovak vocabulary may deter some readers, but the book is a solid choice for readers looking for fantasy complete with dragons, swordplay, and meeting the right girl along the way.--Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

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