Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The castle behind thorns by Merrie Haskell

When Sand wakes up in the fire place of the abandoned old castle it seems like a dream - but quickly turns into a nightmare.  Sand is trapped in the castle by a fierce wall of thorns that reaches for him when he tries to escape and peppers his skin with fever inducing thorns.  Out of a combination of boredom and necessity he starts to mend the broken items in the castle, and there is plenty of damage to repair.  Some powerful force has worked its way through the castle, splitting walls and doors, tearing strips out of wall hangings and bedding, and ripping metal objects in two.

One of the first things Sand repairs is not so much a what as a who, a person who died years before yet miraculously returns to life as a result of Sand's care.  Refusing to believe in magic, it takes time for Sand to come to terms with the appearance of Perrotte, but there is more than one kind of magic at work here.  As they repair the items they need to stay comfortable, they both discover other changes around them.  Both Sand and Perrotte are keeping secrets though, and one of those secrets could destroy all they have worked for.  As their work on the castle progresses, Perrotte and Sand learn more about themselves, about each other, and that the most powerful magic of all is a true friendship.

It is not often that I come across a book that I read from cover to cover even though the book bugs me in some way - but The castle behind thorns was one of those books.  The elements of a truly magical quest story are all here, but the story lacks the sparkle that would normally make a book like this soar and become an unforgettable tale.  The idea behind the story was what kept me turning the pages, even though the writing was at times stilted or very cliche.  Sand is an interesting character but seems a little two dimensional  he never truly seems to show his strength of character.  Perrotte is also interesting because of the deep hurt she carries and her need to take back what is hers, but she also seems at times to be very flat and a cliche of the spoilt princess who must make good.

While I didn't become completely absorbed in the story and lose myself in the world of Perrotte and Sand, this is an intriguing concept that will appeal to readers who like a little mystery and conspiracy mixed in with their fantasy, or a quest story where the characters really need to overcome challenges before they can succeed.  This is not the best example of a fantasy/quest/righting the wrong story, it was an interesting diversion that will appeal to readers who like to be challneged by their reading.

If you like this book then try:
  • The girl of fire and thorns by Rae Carson
  • Alanna the first adventure by Tamora Pierce
  • Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
  • The safe-keepers secret by Sharon Shinn
  • The secret prince by D. Anne Love
  • The half-men of O by Maurice Gee

Reviewed by Brilla

No comments:

Post a Comment