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Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve: Magic Tree House #30    by Mary Pope Osborne order for
Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve
by Mary Pope Osborne
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I read the first dozen of Jack and Annie's adventures with my younger son, but have missed them since his reading tastes developed beyond first chapter books. This 30th in the series follows Christmas in Camelot as the 2nd of The Merlin Missions.

This time Merlin, 'the master magician of all time' asks the children to 'bring order' to a duke's castle. He assigns them a familiar helper - Morgan's sorceror apprentice Teddy, who shared several previous adventures with them in canine form. Merlin warns Teddy to avoid being 'hasty and careless' this time, as his magic rhymes often fail him. As usual, Jack worries about having a plan, and about the 'tunnel of fear', while Annie is more open to adventure.

They find that the castle is surrounded by ravens and haunted by ghosts. Annie helps an injured raven named Rok, and an old crone sets them a riddle. Exploring the castle, they jump at shadows and run from ghosts, till Annie solves the riddle. Then they must rely on Teddy's impulsive magic to find the nest of the part human, part bird Raven King. When things go awry, it is Annie's past compassion that sets them right.

Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve is a great addition to a series about children whose 'courage and kindness' repeatedly saves the day in different times and places. Read this episode together with the lights dimmed and the pumpkins lit at Halloween!

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