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The Caged Graves Hardcover – May 14, 2013

65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–It's 1867, and 17-year-old Verity Boone is moving back to Pennsylvania after spending 15 years with relatives in Massachusetts. She's anxious to reunite with her father and meet her fiancé, Nathaniel McClure, for the first time. Unfortunately, life in rural Catawissa isn't what Verity expected and her homecoming is beginning to feel anything but welcoming. Her father is distant, and Verity and Nathaniel's first meeting is awkward and uncomfortable. He doesn't come across as romantic in person as he did in his letters. To make matters worse, he takes Verity on an impromptu walk that leads her to an unsettling sight–her mother's grave enclosed in an ugly, iron cage. Disturbed and heartbroken, Verity is determined to find out why it was placed in unconsecrated grounds. Unfortunately, her father, Nathaniel, and the townsfolk (while quick to gossip about the Boones) aren't talking. The only way to unravel the mystery is to read her mother's diaries, which exposes Verity to unsettling truths about Catawissa and her family. Verity is a likable, feisty, and outspoken heroine. She often infuriates Nathaniel, whom she quickly discovers is worthy of her attentions. Salerni is a masterful storyteller who uses eloquent prose to craft a suspenseful historical mystery that is absolutely impossible to put down.–Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

It’s 1867, and bright, modern, 17-year-old Verity Boone knows she will miss bustling, urban Worchester when she leaves it for her birthplace—the quiet farm town of Catawissa. Still, she looks forward to meeting her fiancé, Nate, and to her reunion with her father. Catawissa and its inhabitants, however, are not as she anticipated. Her cold, distant father finds every excuse not to spend time with her, and her outings with Nate are awkward and nothing at all like the warm, romantic letters he courted her with. Then, there are the mysterious graves of her mother and aunt, set in cages outside Catawissa’s church. As Verity learns more about her father, her fiancé, and the town’s troubled history, angry elements from the past shove her headlong into mortal danger. Salerni’s immensely readable novel is based on the author’s discovery of two real caged graves in Catawissa, Pennsylvania. Hand this fast-paced, creepy tale to fans of mysteries, forensics, paranormal and historical fiction, and the CSI TV series. Grades 8-11. --Candice Mack

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547868537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547868530
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,073,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dianne K. Salerni is a former elementary school teacher living in Chester County, Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters.

Dianne's first novel, We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks 2010), recounts the true story of Maggie Fox, a teenaged girl credited with the invention of the séance in 1848. A short film based on We Hear the Dead and titled The Spirit Game premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Her second novel, The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH 2013), is inspired by a real historical mystery in the mountains of Pennsylvania and was named a Junior Library Guild Selection, a finalist in the Tome Society IT List, and a Best YA Historical Novel for 2013 by BookPage.

The Eighth Day, a middle grade fantasy about a secret day of the week, is the first in a series by HarperCollins, which also includes The Inquisitor's Mark (Book 2) and The Morrigan's Curse (Book 3).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Verity Boone at age two years, was taken from her father, shortly after her mothers unforeseen death, in order to have the chance to have a normal life while being raised with her cousins in her Aunt's home. Now Verity is 17 years old and has promised to marry a respectable young man from her home town of Catawissa, Pennsylvania. When she arrives at her father's home nothing is familiar to her. She did not receive a very warm welcome from anyone including her father. Something was not right, maybe she was being ill treated because people were jealous that she was to marry the most sought after bachelor in Catawissa. But then as time goes by it is apparent it was more of the fact she was her mother's daughter. Stories of witchcraft was whisper behind her back. There are many secrets leading up to her mother's death and even at this time in her life when she should be enjoying the preparations for her wedding she is forced to face a life and death situation with no one to turn to for help.

If this had been a movie, which I think it should be, you would be sitting on the edge of your seat and would not dare to go to the restroom or to get popcorn. Yep, it is that good. I did not want to put the book down I took it everywhere with me. Yes even to the restroom.

The author has done a bang up job on this book. You will find high anxiety, greed, action, mystery, romance and redemption all through this book. What a creative imagination this author has put to work in her writing. I hope to be reading more of her books soon.

I highly recommend this book.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Netgalley for review. I was in no way compensated for this review. This review is my honest opinion.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Book Preview Review on May 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Book Description:

"The year is 1867, and seventeen-year-old Verity Boone is excited to return from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, the hometown she left when she was just a baby. Now she will finally meet the fiancé she knows only through letters. Soon, however, she discovers two strangely caged graves . . . and learns that one of them is her own mother's. Verity swears she'll get to the bottom of why her mother was buried in "unhallowed ground" in this suspenseful teen mystery that swirls with rumors of witchcraft, buried gold from the days of the War of Independence, and even more shocking family secrets. "

The cover of the book is a little creepy if not disturbing. A large ornate and elaborate yet beautiful framework resembling a conservatory without the glass. Placed oddly enough in the middle of a cemetery. A closer look reveals a headstone or possibly more within this "iron cage". This image alone is enough to question, "why"? What is the mystery surrounding these graves?

Set almost 150 years ago, Salerni constructs a well written historical fiction mystery. She transports the reader to a different time and place by crafting a suspenseful plot with mysterious and complex characters. Based on the cover and lack of willingness and acknowledgement from the townspeople, you get the sense that these graves are very unsettling.

The authors note at the end of the book was very intriguing. There really are caged graves in Catawissa and in her research Salerni found no explanation for the cages thus her inspiration for the story. Due to the sometimes adult subject matter and storyline being a bit dark and gruesome at times, I personally feel this book would be a bit heavy and challenging for younger readers and therefore would recommend this book to teens - 7th/8th grade and older.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ReadMyBreathAway on May 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Wow. This was a unique and enthralling novel if I've ever read one. There is so much to say about this novel that I can't possibly fit it all into this review, or even, necessarily, into words. I was actually taken aback by how much I truly enjoyed it.

One of the most captivating aspects of THE CAGED GRAVES is the atmosphere. There is something very unsettling about the graves from the first mention of them and Verity's mother, and this unsettling feeling is only amplified by the various reactions by everyone whenever they are brought up. This was not a fast-paced, plot driven novel, though it absolutely had its exciting scenes, but I really enjoyed how that allowed the setting and the atmosphere to take over, as well as putting character relationships center stage.

I absolutely loved the way the relationships overall were dealt with, but I want to touch specifically on a few. First, Verity almost expects her meeting with Nate, her betrothed, to bring love at first sight, as their only contact since Verity had moved away from Catawissa as a child was in the last year through romantic and endearing letters. It was interesting seeing a trope so commonly complained about in YA like "insta-love" turned right on its head, with the main character expecting it and it not turning out that way at all. The depth of the relationship that develops between them is genuine in its uncertainty and its rockiness, which made them a lovable couple even when they fought.

Another well-hated trope, the love triangle, is used exactly as it should be in this novel. When Verity feels distanced from Nate, she finds herself falling for Jones, an apprentice to the local doctor and completely unforgiving in his feelings for Verity, an engaged woman.
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