Book Review: The Castle of Inside Out by David Henry Wilson

Book Review: The Castle of Inside Out by David Henry Wilson


Genres: Children, Fantasy, Satire

Main themes: Society, Power

Rating: 5 stars

“Lorina had to write about “A Special Place”, and the Castle had come into her mind the moment Mr Blair had set the subject.”

This adventurous and humorous tale begins with the young and inquisitive Lorina who’s making her way to the Castle on top of the hill. But what started out as an exciting trip soon turns into  a quest to try and save the green people, the ‘Outsiders’ who are dying from starvation and air pollution. Lorina must go in the Castle and seek help from the ‘Insiders’ who are actually all animals. There are mechangaroos, undertigers, haredressers and even osteopythons but the ones in charge are the likes of The Piggident, Mr Hogg and The Piggy Banker… Being pigs, it’s not hard to imagine what a battle Lorina will have with them!

Lorina is a likeable protagonist. She’s a no nonsense girl with a heart of gold and is nothing but determined to help the green people. But being a child, and someone who’s foreign to the way things work in the Castle, it seems like the only way Lorina can make a difference is by pleading a case to the ones who are in charge. But sometimes getting anywhere can feel impossible when the ones who have the power to make a change, chose to remain concerned with no one but themselves. 

Mr Hogg’s day involves shovelling down endless masses food. When Lorina asks if she can take some of the food to the starving green people, his answer was that he couldn’t spare it. The Sow said it broke her heart that the smoke from the furnaces were making the green people sick, and being someone who loved nature, she didn’t agree with the air pollution it caused.  But to put a stop to the furnaces would mean to give up all the things that made life comfortable, such as electricity or furniture, and so the furnaces had to stay. The Piggy Banker was genuinely baffled by Lorina when she asked why he wouldn’t help the green people. He said whether they starved or not was their concern, not his. His concern was money, the “cashiest, coiniest, notiest concern in the world.”

It’s disheartening to see the young heroine face this kind of rejection because she represents the good in our world and what it’s like to uphold unwavering values that have not yet been compromised or replaced by money, greed, or desire. But at the same time I like that it gives us all a bit of a reality check, and reminds us of the importance of goodwill, and how greed really can make pigs out of us.

That makes the story sound pretty serious but honestly it’s so lighthearted! It’s just that as an adult I’ve really come to appreciate and understand on a deeper level what the author was trying to tell us. It really is an entertaining book and over the years I’ve read this novel more times than I can count but it always brings me the same kind of enjoyment. With its witty and clever narrative, The Castle of Inside Out always provides such a wonderful, and nostalgic reading experience. And like with many children’s books, it’s something that can be read at any age, and reminds us of important lessons, such as how kindness can go a long way, and that justice is a value worth fighting for. I’m so glad I received it all those years ago, and hope I’ll find it just as entertaining when I revisit again!

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