The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell

The Castle Behind Thorns - Merrie Haskell

                 A expression that I wouldn't use to describe this book:

 

              A Magical adventure

            (unlike what appears in its synopsis)

 

This is not a magical adventure. This is a book about the journey of two teens, and by journey, I am referring to a journey of the heart.

And no, I am not talking about romance.  Forget about romance. This is a book about faith, forgiveness, and friendship, a story unlike any other I've ever read!

 

Also I wouldn't place this book in the so called middle grade "box". This is a very slow book, with characters that despite their young age (thirteen) _when compared with today costumes _ feel mostly grown up, in a setting that is firmly set in the Middle Age.

 

I would prefer to place this book in the historical fiction shelf....right beside the literary fiction one, and close by to the one featuring the magical realism....while trying to ignore the Christian shelf....because despite the Saints, and the faith thing, I really don't want to go there.

It's a complicated thing, trying to define this book....Oh, and there's this tiny bit that could be considered a fairy tale retelling! Ah!

 

Beginning:

 

Slow. Really slow, because I for one, am not that interested  in seeing someone just trying to repair and mend broken items!

 

Here's the thing: Sand our main character, one day finds himself in the interior of an abandoned castle. He has no idea how he got there. He can't leave, because the castle is surrounded by the most vicious thorns known to man, and he has no idea what to do!

No one is going to save him, and everything inside the castle is broken to bits. Even things that shouldn't be, like leather for instance.

 

Story is, twenty five years ago there was this earthquake, and the castle was abandoned...in more ways than one.

 

Bit by bit, Sand _ whose father and grandfather are both blacksmiths_ is able to put the castle's forge to work, and he just starts fixing things...in a very "un-magical" way.

 

Forget about this book's cover, and the axe on the boy's hand. Forget about the vivid colours that you see in it!

Sand finds himself in a place where nothing grows or lives.

 

“It means, nothing grows here. Nothing lives. Nothing rots, either. Everything just . . . dries out.”

 

 A place that must have been stage of such a terrible thing, that even the ground, the chapel, and the tombs inside were split apart.

There he finds the body of a long dead girl. She's on the ground, outside of her broken tomb.

Sand knows he can't leave her just like that, so he tries to put her "to rights" inside her tomb...and then he gets the hell out of there...as normal people would do!

 

What follows next takes a little patience to read. I can't say that the descriptions are engrossing and page turning!

This is not an action...movie/book.

However this is extremely well written, and after awhile I did become fascinated with the story.

Probably about the time the dead girl comes to life (that or the falcon!)...and I am not talking about zombie alive.

Just alive, as if she had just been sleeping:

 

"Perrotte had never been a good sleeper, and maybe that was why she lived again. Death was the ultimate night, and she couldn’t keep her eyes closed even through that."

 

What can I say?

You would expect there would be a whole lot of drama, due to suddenly seeing a dead girl come alive, right?

Wrong. With time the blacksmith's son, and Perrotte, who was once the daughter of a Countess, become friends.

 

Okay, I have a pet peeve _well more than one, but this is the one we are talking about know _ I don't like when religion gets mixed in a story. I tend to always feel as if I am being lectured on something...and the characters end up being some of the worst liars I have ever read about, while the story continues to praise their goodness. It's infuriating. I am thinking about Sarah Sundin's "Distant melody"...which I shouldn't even get started on...

 

This one, I am glad to say, that despite having two very active Saints _long story _ and the fact that one gets a....you know dead girl/bird rising plot, which can be constituted as a miracle, or just some very strong magical realism setting, never did that! I never felt that I was being lectured! The characters felt real, and likeable (well after awhile...but the girl had her reasons), and not some "goody too-shoes" that just end up behaving like idiots...and liars!

Thank you. It just felt natural due to the time setting.

 

So, yes, despite what I saw as a slow start, I really, REALLY, ended up enjoying this book, and I think that this is going to be one of those whose reads, that will just keep getting better with constant re-reads.

 

So, grown ups! You, who like "a bit of the odd" in your stories, what are you waiting for to read this book?

 

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