Castleview Essay - Critical Essays

Castleview

Will E. Shields moves with his wife and daughter to Castleview, Illinois, having purchased an automobile dealership there with a substantial bank loan. So far so good, the reader of this latest outing from the pen of the extraordinarily talented Gene Wolfe, is inclined to say. But immediately, and predictably, matters get totally out of hand.

To begin with, Will observes the mysterious castle which appears from time to time to inhabitants of the town--hence its name. The castle may be an optical illusion, but others are not so sure. As he investigates the phenomenon, one of his employees vanishes under mysterious circumstances. His wife, meanwhile, is engaged in an inquiry of her own concerning a horseman who appears in the road in front of her, and their daughter Mercedes goes for an automobile ride with a local young man which leads to a strange encounter with two individuals who are definitely not what they appear to be. The Shieldses are not the only ones to experience such baffling phenomena. Indeed, numerous denizens of Castleview are exposed to intriguing and murderous personages, including a rather belligerent and resourceful talking cat.

Gene Wolfe’s works, especially the Soldier of Arete series, have met with praise from critics across the country. Readers who enjoy a self-consciously literary style--and who are not troubled by narrative tricks and convolutions--will find erudite entertainment in CASTLEVIEW. Others may find the book too rich for their taste.