(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Castle in the Air treats issues of difficult family relations and enslavement by evil powers in an entertaining fantasy that resembles The Arabian Nights. It involves a humble young merchant named Abdullah, a magic carpet he buys from a stranger, and a beautiful princess who is whisked away by a djinn. As the tale unfolds, Abdullah must learn to maneuver the carpet, then confront the troublesome relatives of his deceased father's first wife. He must, above all, seek the beautiful princess because she wants to marry him. Abdullah energetically wends his way through numerous, fast-paced, and sometimes rollicking adventures with magical characters who are hardly ever what they seem.

Abdullah is a believable character set in an intentionally improbable tale. He resembles anyone in the real world who faces a humdrum job, bickering relatives, and evil forces that try to thwart good ends, but yet still daydreams of romance and adventure. Through his experiences and his reactions to them, Jones suggests the qualities that can bring personal freedom and happiness to anyone. Abdullah faces evil powers and enslaving social customs with persistence, resilience, courage, loyalty, and a sense of justice. Jones also suggests, largely through Abdullah's relationship with his princess, that the real world needs women who will assert themselves as men's equal partners—and men who will respect them for doing so.

(The entire section is 223 words.)