03 June 2013

Review: The Caged Graves

The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni
Publication date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Clarion Books
*copy provided by publisher for review
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.

THE CAGED GRAVES is a historical mystery based around two real caged graves the author, Dianne Salerni, came across in Catawissa, Pennsylvania. After some research and still not knowing how these caged graves came to be, the author created her own story around them and formed something great.

Verity is a kind and charming character, as well as, a strong heroine: she stands up for what she believes even when others are against her. She won't let anybody deter her from finding out why these two graves that she has personal connections to are covered in cages and sitting outside the church cemetery on unholy ground. And I mean anybody. Father?* Whatever. The man who will be her husband?* Screw him. The attractive doctor's apprentice? Wait. There's an attractive doctor's apprentice? Yes. His name is Hadley Jones. He creates the third corner of a nice little love triangle that actually works with the story and has a purpose. That purpose being related to Verity's character development. Yes, there is also character development, and not just in Verity, but the other characters. This book spoils me. Now I'm going to expect it in everything I read.

The setting of the story is nice and well developed and the prose isn't flowery or over descriptive like one can find in historical novels, but rather simple with an elegant tone. I love the author's writing style. It really fits the feel of the book. As for the mystery, it had me guessing right along with Verity. Maybe I could have caught on sooner, but I was so engrossed in the story that I didn't ever stop to try and figure it out myself. Usually, I have the clues figured out before the character, but in this case, I was having so much fun reading I forgot to try to solve it.

The Caged Graves is a novel with a strong female protagonist and an interesting, well-mixed cast of supporting characters. If you're looking for your next historical novel or a light mystery then check this one out. I also recommend this to fans of A NORTHERN LIGHT.

*These two characters are very supportive of Verity, actually. But if they weren't, she still would have walked right over them. 


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