Catherine Fisher, Author . HarperCollins/ Greenwillow $16.99 (281p) ISBN 978-0-06-072470-2

Fisherreimagines the enigmatic castle of Grail legend as a roadside inn in this elegiac, mature modern fantasy. Young Cal is leaving his home and his alcoholic mother to stay with his uncle, but gets off the train at the wrong station. Walking through what some local fishermen call the Waste Land in search of a phone, he comes upon Castle Hotel Corbenic, its ominous "vacancies" sign swinging in the wind. Alain Bron, the wheelchair-bound patron of the castle/hotel, befriends Cal, mumbling that Cal is "the one." Bron shows Cal the Holy Grail; only later, when he is back home with his uncle, does he learn the legend, which says if he were to ask Bron about what he saw, the king's wounds would be healed and the kingdom restored. But getting back to Corbenic proves difficult for, as he learns from a ratty man who turns out to be Merlin, "it is not a place... it is a state of mind." Fisher transposes genres to great effect; the opening chapters feel as much like the start of a horror movie as a fantasy tale, with a well-executed sense of dread and mystery. And in a masterful turn, Cal's relationship with his mother is fused with the Grail story into a completely surprising twist ending, one which casts a new, human light on all of the fantasy elements that came before it. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 11/06/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-219375-9
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4481-0074-3
Library Binding - 281 pages - 978-0-06-072471-9
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-09-943848-9
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