August 9, 2014

Book review: The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

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The year is 1867, and seventeen-year-old Verity Boone is excited to return to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, the hometown she left when she was just a baby. Now she will finally meet the fiancĂ© she knows only through letters! Soon, however, she discovers two strangely caged graves . . . and learns that one of them is her own mother’s. Verity swears she’ll get to the bottom of why her mother was buried in “unhallowed ground” in this suspenseful teen mystery that swirls with rumors of witchcraft, buried gold from the days of the War of Independence, and even more shocking family secrets.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Historical fiction is a genre I rarely read, but Alison at The Cheap Reader brought The Caged Graves to my attention. I was still wary of the subject matter, but I found that I liked the book more than I anticipated.

For one thing, I wound up taking more of an interest than I thought I would in what life was like in rural Pennsylvania in the nineteenth century. Not knowing much about the era, I thought things like petticoats and calling cards were amusing. The other aspect of the story that I enjoyed was the relationship between Verity and her betrothed, Nate. At first they didn't get along because they only knew each other through letters, and Verity even wondered if agreeing to marry him without meeting him in person was a mistake. However, as the book progressed, so did their fondness for each other. It all felt very natural, not the insta-love that's prevalent in too many books today.

For a book titled The Caged Graves, and given how important the truth behind the graves was to Verity, we didn't get much information about them. Verity seemed to take a very long time investigating the story behind the graves, and in the end, the revelation was somewhat anti-climactic for me. I wanted there to be a bigger mystery behind the caged graves and for the book to delve into that aspect of the story more.

Overall, for this non-reader of historic fiction, I found The Caged Graves to be a pretty good read, whether you're a fan of the genre or not.