A magical adventure set in an enchanted castle that is sure to appeal to fans of Gail Carson Levine, Karen Cushman, and Shannon Hale
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-from dishes to candles to apples-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 to live. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending, granted by the saints who once guarded this place?
Unexpectedly, Sand finds the lost heir, Perrotte, a girl who shares the castle’s astonishing secrets and dark history. 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 gain their freedom, even with the help of the guardian saints.
With gorgeous language and breathtaking magic, Merrie Haskell’s The Castle Behind Thorns tells of the power of memory and story, forgiveness and strength, and the true gifts of craft and imagination.
This story began with a boy named Sand waking up inside an abandoned castle. Without knowing how he got inside the castle, Sand attempted to leave but the thorns surrounding the castle attacked him, making him feel irritated, annoyed and desolated. With all exits blocked by thorns, could Sand manage to survive long enough before someone came and rescued him?
I was so glad that this story wasn’t about Sand waiting for people to come and get him out of a bad place. Sand was in distress but he didn’t dwell in his bad moods. He worked out ways to get himself food and water and he used his skills as a blacksmith to fix things up so that he had tools to help him survive. I liked that he didn’t mind getting sweaty and dirty to do some hard work. When he saw broken items, he didn’t just discard them. He used his imagination and then turned these seemingly useless items into something useful. I also liked that he was sensible. He had a quiet determination to make the best out of his situation. Even when there wasn’t much for him to feel appreciative about, I liked that he focused on the good and not the bad.
Perrotte, the lost heir of the castle, was a different story. She carried a lot of rage and all she could think of was to punish those who had wronged her. But with Sand patiently helping her get through her pain and sorrow, she started seeing life a little differently. I liked how the growth of thorns was tied to her (and Sand) in its intricate way and it’s wonderful to see how Perrotte made her choice in the end to make the thorns go away.
Delightfully imaginative and beautifully written, The Castle Behind Thorns is a story that offers good, profound messages for both kids and adults. I think this one will soon become a favorite among libraries, schools and book clubs. Look out for this title when it’s released in May 2014 – highly recommended!