Thursday, 4 July 2013

Review: The Caged Graves

Title: The Caged Graves
Author: Dianne Salerni
Publisher: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Released: 14th May 2013
Rating: 2 of 5 stars

It is 1867, and Verity Boone is excited to return to her hometown of Catawissa, Pennsylvania.  Finally, after years of separation, she will be with her father again and, not only that, she will also meet her fiancĂ©, the man she has thus far only known through letters.  Yet her welcome is not as warm as she expected.  Her father is as good as a stranger, and Nate, her fiancĂ©, comes across as very different to how he did in his letters - more aloof and with apparently nothing in common with Verity.  But even worse is the discovery that her mother and aunt's graves are within cages, and not even in the cemetery itself - they're buried just outside.  Determined to find out why, Verity gets no answers, only rumours of witchcraft and buried treasure...and suddenly a situation in which her own life is at risk.

After such a promising premise, the plot for this unfortunately fell flat for me.  Where I was hoping for mystery and intrigue, I instead got a storyline that was overly simplistic, so much so that I wondered how Verity could possibly be so blind to facts that were right in front of her.  This was not a problem at first, Salerni's writing keeping me slightly curious and, if not completely eager to read on, still far from impatient.  This soon wore off, however, and I reached the point where I was reading simply for the sake of finishing the book.  The villains, such as they were, were not believable in the least.  Truly, they were quite ridiculous, and I didn't understand how I was supposed to view them as a real threat.  Partly because of this, what was meant to be the climax came across as messy.  Its structure - or lack thereof - had me reading incredulously and with no particular attachment to anybody.

The characters were as much of a letdown.  Verity was likeable enough, and I felt some sympathy towards her purely because of her situation, yet she was unremarkable.  Nate was somewhat frustrating, although the romance between them did allow for some lighter, sweeter moments which made for a pleasant change and an easier read than it might otherwise have been.  This was not significant enough to be a wholly redeeming factor, though, and to make matters worse, Nate was not the only love interest.  Yes, another one.  I confess, I sighed inwardly as soon as the love triangle made itself apparent.  These things are becoming even more tiresome to me than I thought.  The secondary characters, too, were as unexceptional as the protagonist.

I honestly did expect more of this, especially as the element of the caged graves is based on real ones that are still in Catawissa today.  Witchcraft and buried treasure seemed like a basis for excitement and some action, but sadly this was not so.  While this was not completely terrible - indeed, there are parts more well-written than others - this was ultimately a disappointment.

6 comments:

  1. I reached the point where I was reading simply for the sake of finishing the book.

    I'm sure a lot of us can relate to that feeling. It's honestly the worst. Sorry that this was such a disappointment for you, Aa'Ishah! With poor characters and a weak plot, I really doubt that this will work any better for me. Thanks for the helpful review, and I hope your next read is more promising!

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  2. I'm so sorry this didn't work out for you, Aa'Ishah! It really does sound promising and mysterious. I would groan getting to the love triangle as well! I have little patience for them nowadays. Great honest review! :)

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  3. Aw damn! It's awful when the plot totally falls flat an the characters drive you up the wall :( Shame you don't have much joy with it and as for love triangles. SIGH! There are so many out there right now and the vast majority aren't done very well which is equally disappointing :(
    Lovely review though, Aa'Ishah :)

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  4. Aww, so sorry this didn't work for you! As you say the premise does sound interesting. The characters don't sound very appealing at all, though. And ughh, love triangles frustrate the hell out of me. Hope your next read it more enjoyable! <3

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  5. Man, too bad you didn't like this one! I haven't heard of it before, since historical fiction really ain't my thing, but I'm not sure I'm going to read it ever. You're such a trooper, though! If I didn't like something so much, I'd DNF it right off the bat. I rarely finish for the sake of finishing. Haha!

    Faye @ The Social Potato Reviews

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  6. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts. I could definitely relate to the feeling of ploughing through the pages just to finish reading a book. Hope your next-read would cheer you up :)

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