Published by Katherine Tegen Books on May 27th 2014
Number of Pages: 341
Genres: Adventure, Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Mystery
Purchase: At Amazon
Stories don’t know everything.
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 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. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending? Or have the saints who once guarded this place returned?
When Sand finds the castle’s lost heir, Perrotte, they begin to untwine the dark secrets that caused the destruction. 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 regain their freedom.
With gorgeous language and breathtaking magic, Merrie Haskell’s The Castle Behind Thorns tells of the power of memory, story, forgiveness, and the true gifts of craft and imagination.
I loved how Sand fixed things in the castle, and how his magic worked. I also liked how Sand and Perotte’s relationship grew. The Saints and the Thorns were twists I wasn’t expecting, both of which I liked.
This book is filled with friendship and forgiveness themes, but you don’t really notice until near the end. The story grabs you and sweeps you away while you try to see what’s going to happen next. Two teenagers completely alone, but for a falcon, in an abandoned castle where they don’t know for sure they will ever escape. You would think that would be the perfect setting for romance or something similar. But it’s not.
Sand and Perotte build a strong friendship, with no inklings of anything more until perhaps the very end of the story as it’s being wrapped up. I don’t mind romance at all, but it’s nice to read a book where a boy and girl are thrown together and they don’t immediately end up falling in love.
This is a middle grade book, but doesn’t spell things out in super detail like some middle grade books do. There are references made, like Perotte being named for a type of rock, and then the story goes on without telling you all about that kind of rock.
The beginning of the book may be a bit slow for some. Sand is alone in an empty castle with no way of escaping. In order to figure out how much food he has, he must put the kitchen to rights. Not a single item has escaped destruction. So he has to fix or make everything he needs. Including fixing the well enough to be able to get water. Perotte doesn’t wake up for a few chapters. I liked reading about how Sand overcame his difficulties, but others may want to skip right to the action.
Either way, I really enjoyed this book and if you haven’t read it yet, you should!