Description 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.
I’ll confess. I probably should have reviewed this right after I finished reading it. Because honestly, I remember very little of what I read. And that’s probably because it’s not a very memorable book. There are a lot of things you THINK this book will be before you begin reading it, but it actually lives up to very few of those expectations. I appreciate that some of this book is rooted in fact (like there really are caged graves in Catawissa), but the main problem is that this book is pretty boring. I think that maybe readers that read historical fiction more than me may enjoy this one, but for me, this is a period in history that doesn’t really interest me. I was going into it expecting the creep factor and a paranormal plot line and it is neither of those. I suppose you could call that a spoiler but I really think it’s an important fact that readers should know before picking this one up. It’s much more historical than paranormal, and if you are reading it for that, I do think you will be genuinely disappointed.
I also had problems with Verity. She was a fairly unlikable character and I had a hard time rooting or caring for her. She was a snob. Bratty and entitled, she constantly judged those around her and the fact that they weren’t from a city and they didn’t have all the experiences she had. Of course characters go through growth, and so does Verity, and I liked her more by the end of the book, but she is simply not a character I would have cared for in real life and so why should I care for her in a book?
Also? A love triangle. I feel that it’s a decently written triangle and I did care for both love interests, and I was conflicted over who Verity should choose, and that tugged at my heart strings a little, so for me that was a positive. I’m not usually a fan of love triangles. But if they are done well, I can deal, and in this case I did because I felt both characters were developed well and the triangle felt realistic and the interactions between the characters worked for me. So I wouldn’t immediately write it off because of that element but I did feel it was something that should be stated. There is a largely romantic element to this book though and I almost feel as if the plot took a backseat. It was at least 50/50. So if you love the romance in your YA novels, I am sure you will enjoy this more than I did. Personally, I can do without romance completely. I don’t MIND romance, but I certainly don’t need it to enjoy a book.
Good things? The prose is lovely. A lot of the side characters were developed well, particularly Verity’s father and the housekeeper. The mystery is fun to solve and go along with but it’s hard to focus on that when we are being constantly interrupted by a sappy romance. The plot is slow moving and I never felt fully invested in what I was reading until around page 180, and that is FAR too long. I liked the book enough to call it average but I was not won over in the end. Bottom line here: interesting premise with only an average execution. I wan’t impressed and so I move on to the next.