Friday, August 2, 2013

REVIEW: The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni


17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she trusted.

Inspired by a pair of real caged graves in present-day Catawissa, this historical YA novel weaves mystery, romance, and action into a suspenseful drama with human greed and passion at its core.

Hardcover, 329 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Clarion Books
ISBN  0547868537 (ISBN13: 9780547868530)

About the Author

Dianne K. Salerni is the author of YA historical novels We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks 2010) and The Caged Graves (Clarion Books 2013), and the forthcoming MG fantasy series THE EIGHTH DAY (HarperCollins). The Caged Graves is a Junior Library Guild Selection, and We Hear the Dead was recently adapted into a short film, The Spirit Game, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Salerni lives in Chester County, Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters, where she teaches fifth grade.

My Thoughts
Even facing probable death, Private Silas Clayton couldn't stop thinking about that leather satchel.
Verity Boone returns to her birthplace engaged to a man she has no memory of ever having met before. When she finally meets her intended, she is left with doubts and hesitation, and her return to her home leaves her filled with questions. How did her mother die? What happened to leave her father so closed off to the world? Was her aunt a witch? And what, in Heaven's name, is with the cages covering her mother and aunt's graves? Everyone she turns to for answers seem to only leave her with more questions.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. The idea of graves with cages is just so...creepy! You can't help but think they are to keep the dead where they lay. Is this a zombie story? What is with those crazy cages?

There was a romantic element to this story that took me by surprise. It wound up having a bit of a historical romance feel to it which, given the caged graves aspect, you wouldn't think would work, but it did. There was a wealth of characters, but they were easy to keep track of (I hate when I can't keep up with the characters and follow who is who).

Verity's father is a little cold and distant, but he offers Verity her mother's diaries in hopes that she may find some of the answers she is looking for. In so doing, Verity also learns about the man her father used to be. She is charmed to find through her mother's diary that her father, Ransloe, once had a sense of humor.
I want to name all my children after virtues. Ransloe agrees but says please choose Patience this time, because Verity does not have any. (page 117)
The author had an engaging writing-style, with little witticisms tossed in to make me smile.
Arguing with those who'd renounced the use of reason, according to Thomas Paine, was like administering medicine to the dead. (page 233)

My final word: I enjoyed this story even more than I expected. It wound up being an odd mix of mystery, horror and romance, and yet it worked. Verity was a likable young girl, and her intended husband Nate was equally likable (although he had a penchant for putting his foot in his mouth). The storyline kept me guessing, wondering where it was going, and just how these caged graves fit into it. With equal parts romance and creepiness, I found this story surprisingly enjoyable.

Buy Now:

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Cover: A-
Writing Style: A-
Characters: A
Storyline/Plot: A-
Interest/Uniqueness: A

My Rating:


I won a copy of this book from the author. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and could differ from the final release.


shelleyrae @ book'd out said...

Im intrigued by the idea of those caged graves. Thanks for sharing your review

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

Elizabeth said...

This sounds like something I would really like.


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