Kid’s Book Review: Cruel Castle

Kid’s Book Review: Cruel Castle

About the Book and Author

For YA readers who enjoy reading chilling novels we recommend this dystopian thriller by Bryony Pearce, author of Savage Island.

They thought the island was the end. It was only the beginning…
Having survived the horrors of Savage Island, Grady is now stuck working for Gold, the psychopath who masterminded the gruesome competition. Sent on a “team-building exercise” in a remote castle, he starts to plot his escape.
Ben and Lizzie are in hiding, presumed dead after escaping the island. If they’re ever to return to their families, they need to bring Gold down. So they secretly join Grady in the castle. But as the doors slam shut and the series of deadly challenges between them and freedom are revealed, it looks like history is going to repeat itself…

Cruel Castle_Cover


Bryony Pearce is a multi-award-winning novelist working in both the YA and Adult markets. In the YA genre she has produced a mixture of dark thrillers, paranormal adventures, dystopia and horror and currently has nine published novels: Angel’s Fury, The Weight of Souls, Phoenix Rising, Phoenix Burning, Wavefunction, Windrunner’s Daughter, Savage Island, Cruel Castle and Raising Hell.

She also writes adult thrillers. Her first domestic noir, The Girl on the Platform is out with Avon (Harper Collins), the next, Little Rumours, will follow in 2022. Additionally, Bryony writes adult science fiction short stories, which have been published in a number of anthologies.

Bryony particularly enjoys supporting aspiring writers and works as a consultant and mentor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy and The Writing Coach. Further to this, she teaches a creative writing class for City University, London.


Book Review

If you enjoyed reading The Hunger Games and other dystopian novels, then you will definitely enjoy Cruel Castle

Cruel Castle by Bryony Pearce is a thrilling read. You’re gripped by the second chapter! Each chapter is narrated by a different character but it is masterfully written, with each narrative weaved together so that you truly connect with the characters but aren’t confused. It is such an imaginative plot that you have no idea what will happen next.

The main protagonists in the book are Grady, Lizzie and Ben. It is set in a castle controlled by psychopathic millionaire Marcus Gold, who tests everyone to the limits – sometimes even to death. The book is about survival, solving almost impossible tasks and working together with people who might kill you once you have served your purpose. The castle is constantly monitored by Gold with cameras whirring about characters’ heads. The book is about endurance and testing the strength of the characters both physically and mentally: survival depends on gritting your teeth and carrying on even when you think there is no hope left. Yet in Cruel Castle, even characters that pose a threat to the protagonists have such rich back stories and are so three dimensional that even if you don’t like them, you are also sort of rooting for them. This is one of the reasons why it is such a great book. All of the characters have such complex personalities and thoughts, you cannot put the book down.

Cruel Castle by Bryony Pearce is chilling but amazingly written. Younger readers will find it upsetting and scary but older readers will love this book and will feel the ups and down with the characters. I would recommend this book to 12 year olds and over. I thoroughly enjoyed it and if you enjoyed reading The Hunger Games and other dystopian novels, then you will definitely enjoy Cruel Castle.

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Alternatively, we suggest that you visit your local library and request to borrow a copy from a friendly librarian.

Whichever you choose we hope you enjoy being part of your unique reading community – happy reading everyone!

Reviewer Profile

  • Name: Becky
  • Age: 12 Years
  • Likes: walking my dog, pizza, playing music
  • Dislikes: marmalade and playing Monopoly!
  • Favourite Book: The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall
  • Favourite Song: Piano Man by Billy Joel
  • Favourite Film: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers