Friday, April 1, 2016

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell

With fairy tales it’s sometimes easy to gloss over the horror and consequences of selfish human actions with a bit of magic and a happy ending. Not so in Merrie Haskell’s story, The Castle Behind Thorns. When the young boy Sand mysteriously wakes up in a ruined castle surrounded by vicious thorns, he can only survive by mending what is broken. For everything from blades of straw, buckets, anvils, coins and even the holy relic of a saint’s heart is split in two, as if by a curse. 

*Warning: next paragraph contains spoilers.

But shortly after he returns the dead body of a young girl to her tomb, Perrotte awakens to life once more with a terrible memory; her own murder several decades ago at the hand of her stepmother—and Sand’s father. Their budding friendship and desire to escape the thorny prison confining them to the castle is overshadowed by Perrotte’s desire for revenge on her stepmother, and the secret she is keeping from Sand about his father’s sin. But as the thorny barrier slowly shrinks and the miracle of Perrote’s return from the dead spreads, armies mass for lost gold and the families of both children confront them at the castle. Sand and Perrotte must decide which path to follow: the thorny road of vengeance and hate, or forgiveness and new life. This Sleeping Beauty tale is full of darkest human fears—and hope, utterly lost, then made flesh again in bone and blood. 

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