Tashi and the Forbidden Room, by Anna & Barbara Fienberg

It all began with the castle on the hill…The castle had stood empty for many years. It had twenty-three bedrooms, upstairs and downstairs, and they were dark and dusty with cobwebs. But one day Second Aunt came to tell us that she had just met the new owner. He was a wealthy merchant, she said, tall and handsome, with hair as blue-black as a raven’s wing.

When Tashi’s cousin decides to marry the wealthy Bluebeard, the whole village is excited – except Tashi. He has glimpsed Bluebeard’s evil heart, and doesn’t want Ho Hum to marry him. When Ho Hum takes Tashi to visit the castle, Tashi uncovers Bluebeard’s secrets. But is he too late to save his cousin?

Tashi and the Forbidden Room is the twelfth book in the Tashi series. As in the previous titles, Tashi tells his friend Jack of his adventures back home in the village. In each adventure, Tashi is faced by a tricky dilemma or shady character and uses his wile and a little magic to fix it.

Bluebeard, Tashi tells Jack, is the most frightening character he ever faced, who will always haunt me. The second adventure in this book, The Three Tasks features another villain, the Baron, who has appeared in earlier stories. Tashi must complete three tasks in order to rescue the Baron’s dog, Pongo, who the Baron has locked in a dungeon.

These are exciting stories, with a pleasing blend of old and new. Tashi’s adventures in his unnamed land are mixed with Jack’s life in a contemporary setting. Perfect for reading aloud, or independently, Tashi and the Forbidden Room will appeal to readers aged 6 to 10.

Tashi and the Forbidden Room, by Anna Fienberg and Barbara Fienberg, illustrated by Kim Gamble
Allen & Unwin, 2005