Monday, July 21, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: Castle Behind Thorns

Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell, May 27, 2014. 336 pages. Published by Katherine Tegen Books. Source: Library.
When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. The stories all said the place was ruined by an earthquake, and Sand did not expect to find everything inside-from dishes to candles to apples-torn in half or slashed to bits. Nothing lives here and nothing grows, except the vicious, thorny bramble that prevents Sand from leaving. Why wasn't this in the stories?

To survive, Sand does what he knows best-he fires up the castle's forge to mend what he needs to live. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending, granted by the saints who once guarded this place?

Unexpectedly, Sand finds the lost heir, Perrotte, a girl who shares the castle's astonishing secrets and dark history. Putting together the pieces-of stone and iron, and of a broken life-is harder than Sand ever imagined, but it's the only way to gain their freedom, even with the help of the guardian saints.
First Sentence:
Sand woke, curled in the ashes of a great fireplace.

I would just like to tell y'all how much I adored Merrie Haskell's Castle Behind Thorns! The overall story arc and her writing made for some of the most delightful reading!!!

Where, oh, where should I start on this review. From the moment I opened up Castle Behind Thorns I knew I was going to enjoy it. Why, because Ms. Haskell's writing is beautiful and perfectly captured the feel of the world, characters and their journey. Seriously though, her writing is near perfection as she tells the tale of Sand and Perrotte and weaves of story of betrayal and forgiveness. This was one of those books that I'll have to revisit time and again just to soak up the every little thing about it. That this one makes my re-read list should say volumes because only the one's I loved best, be it for the writing, story, or characters, make the list of books I'd take time to read again.

While there are many a charming middle grade fantasy, what sets Castle Behind Thorns a part is the story within the story. I loved seeing how interconnected the story was; from the Sundering of the castle and Perrotte's history, all the way to way Sand was chosen to help set things right. I thought Ms. Haskell did a great job connecting the stories of the past and present and giving the book two characters worth rooting for. I really enjoyed seeing the changes that came over both of them as their stories' unfolded, as well, as how they helped to move the other away from fear and doubt into the next stage.

So, when it comes down to it, what I really, really enjoyed about Merrie Haskell's Castle Behind Thorns would have to be the writing. The writing really sets the tone for the entire book and bring the story to life. She took a great story and made it better with such beautiful prose that I was snared from the very first page.
   Also, as this is the second book of her's I've read, I did notice a growth within her writing style. While I really enjoyed her other book (like a lot), I felt that this one was stronger on many different points.

The only thing I liked...less...about this book would have to be that I wanted a little more Sand and Perrotte. They were such an enjoyable bookish companions that I was saddened to see their story end.  I could have also done with finding out what happened to the 'villain' in the very end.
Final Verdict: Castle Behind Thorns- Charming, delightful and absolutely beautifully written.

Castle Behind Thorns earns

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