“The Caged Graves” by Dianne Salerni
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Summary from Goodreads:
17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she trusted.
Inspired by a pair of real caged graves in present-day Catawissa, this historical YA novel weaves mystery, romance, and action into a suspenseful drama with human greed and passion at its core.
Just by the book’s summary I never would have guessed that the book would be something that would keep me coming back for more. Arranged marriages in historical time periods aren’t that interesting. Yet somehow Salerni kept me picking up the book and coming back for more. There were so many interesting things going on. Verity moved back in with her father after not really seeing him for ~15 years. Verity was meeting her fiance for the first time after only corresponding through letters. Verity discovered that her mother and aunt’s graves were caged and there was talk of witchcraft. There’s also lots of talk of buried treasure. Any one of those things could have made a fairly interesting story on its own. All together? It was a story you couldn’t walk away from.
I do tend to like historical fiction but sometimes the characters can be a bit lackluster for me. They don’t have the ‘fire’ that people have today. Probably because it wouldn’t have been looked highly upon. Not Verity though. She definitely has some fire in her. She absolutely acts like a lady but she gets down to business as well. That’s always fantastic for me.
There was a bit of a love triangle in the book but I didn’t really mind it. Nate definitely became a fully developed character. He was cold and a bit rigid when we first met him but that’s because Verity didn’t really know him. Once they became better acquainted you really saw him blossom. You could see that he was a good guy and very sweet. Hadley was initially very charming. He and Verity had 10x the chemistry of Verity and Nate. You couldn’t help but like him. Unfortunately I kind of fell out of like with him. He kept flirting with Verity even though she doesn’t know him AND she’s engaged. That’s really swarmy to me. Then there was that whole business at the end of the book….
While we we’re on the subject of the ending of the book, WOW that was an ending. I never saw all the craziness happening. That kicked the story up from “enjoyable” to “really liked it” for me.
The bottom line? I really liked the book.