Frighteningly Good Read: Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

This middle grade book features a 12 year old witch perfectly designed for me – her name is even Molly! I loved this story that gave me a smart and strong female lead and a core group of friends coming together to fight evil – it was good to the last page!


When Molly shows up on Castle Hangnail’s doorstep to fill the vacancy for a wicked witch, the castle’s minions are understandably dubious. After all, she is twelve years old, barely five feet tall, and quite polite. (The minions are used to tall, demanding evil sorceresses with razor-sharp cheekbones.) But the castle desperately needs a master or else the Board of Magic will decommission it, leaving all the minions without the home they love. So when Molly assures them she is quite wicked indeed (So wicked! REALLY wicked!) and begins completing the tasks required by the Board of Magic for approval, everyone feels hopeful. Unfortunately, it turns out that Molly has quite a few secrets, including the biggest one of all: that she isn’t who she says she is.

This quirky, richly illustrated novel is filled with humor, magic, and an unforgettable all-star cast of castle characters. from Goodreads.

An illustration featuring a girl in a classic witches outfit surrounded by creatures. She is holding a book with magic escaping.


Holy quirky characters, I loved this book! Castle Hangnail needs a new master. It doesn’t matter to the Minions residing there for so many years whether the master is an Evil Sorceress, a Vampire, or a Witch. Without a master – quickly! – the Board of Magic will decommission the castle and all the Minions will lose their home; and each other. Perhaps that explains why they are willing to accept a twelve-year old witch!

The Minions are my second favorite thing about this book. Majordomo is the guardian of the castle and reminds me of a dedicated and intelligent Igor. Edward, the suit of armor, is ready to defend the honor of both his Mistress and the Castle. The Minotaur chef and her son are a wonder but my favorite has to be Pins, the not-voodoo-doll tailor and his dedicated hypochondriac goldfish. They have made their own chosen family and I cannot blame Molly for wanting to be a part of it.

My favorite thing about this story is that I truly had no idea how it would end. Usually, middle grade books are fairly predictable (in a good way), but this one was inventive and lovely. I thought I knew what was happening and where the story was going but the author surprised me again and again.

My only complaint is that the book feels like book one in a series that doesn’t seem to have more books! I’m not one to nudge an author but I sincerely hope that there are more Castle Hangnail books in the works. Please…?

Tell me, please! What is the last Middle Grade book that surprised you?


6 thoughts on “Frighteningly Good Read: Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

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  1. I’m so excited to read this! I loved Ursula Vernon’s graphic novel, Digger, *so much* and for some reason I never wondered if she published anything else. Now I know she has! Castle Hangnail and its minions sound utterly charming, and I’m very intrigued by what Molly might be concealing. I’m adding this to my TBR right away!

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