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Summers at Castle Auburn Mass Market Paperback – April 30, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
The latest enchantment from Crawford Award winner Shinn (The Shape Changer's Wife and the Samaria trilogy) combines romantic spice, a dash of faerie and a pinch of intrigue to create a hybrid souffl that is delicious, if not filling. Lowborn Corie, the impressionable young heroine, spends her summers with her highborn sister, Elisandra, at Castle Auburn and the rest of the year in a village apprenticed to a "wise woman" witch/herbalist called Grandmother. Corie accompanies her Uncle Jaxon on a hunt for the Aliora, faerielike creatures who serve as unwilling slaves to the humans inhabiting this quasi-medieval world. Also along for the ride is Elisandra's future husband, Prince Bryan of Auburn, a vain 16-year-old adored by most girls (including Corie) and loathed by most men. As Corie ages, she gets over her crush on the increasingly narcissistic and self-indulgent young prince. The relationship between the sisters deepens along with the plot lines revolving around Jaxon's obsession with the Aliora and their queen, Rowena, whose flickering presence suggests other, darker story lines that Shinn might have investigated to produce a less predictable confection. The love story between the hunter and the hunted is more electrifying than the sisters' romances. What makes Bryan change is never explored fully, just as his constant bad-boy image is never explained. While the story moves quickly in Shinn's seasoned hands, her fans may be left hungry for more substantive fare.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
As the illegitimate daughter of a royal lord, young Corie has the best of two worlds. She spends idyllic summers at Castle Auburn, home of her father's family, and the rest of the year with her maternal grandmother, learning the healer's craft. At the castle, Corie is groomed by her uncle for an eventual political alliance through marriage, though she is too dazzled by her handsome cousin Bryan, heir to the throne, to notice. As the summers pass, however, Bryan shows his true colors. The brash, arrogant youth matures into a cruel and self-centered man; a man unfit to be king, some say. At the same time, Corie's eyes open to the misery of the magical aliora, whom she loves, but who are hunted for sport and enslaved by the nobility. Thus, at 17, amid a hotbed of family and political unrest, Corie comes of age, risking all that she loves for what she believes in her heart to be right. Her choices, and the woman she becomes, will change Castle Auburn forever. Paula Luedtke
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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It would have been nice to learn a bit more about the Aliora & their world; and the POVs of Elisandra & Jaxon would have given more depth & layers to the book.
Concerning the love interests: it was fairly clear from one third of the book who will end up with whom. It distrubed me a bit how blind the heroine kept herself to the very end & then WHAM she knew right away that she had been in love with the guy all along and married him almost on the spot & the book ends suddenly. It would have been more credible if she had been given some time to come to term with her feelings & spend some time with the guy developing their until then non-existent relationship a bit before getting married & living happily ever after.
Despite the negative points raised above, I found this a lovely book, an intriguing & an easy read.
One of it stongest points is the political intrigue, as usual in most Sharon Shinn books – she is very good at creating this kind of tension: who is siding with whom & who is plotting against whom.
Back to the comparison: There is definitely a court setting, political intrigue and balls that one would expect. Sometimes, though, the politics are confusingly at once superficially treated and at the same time unavoidably important to the plot. I found myself on more than one occasion confused by character's partial statements and the myriad of important figures and their positions.
While the heroine is spunky, independent and definitely likeable, it would have been nice to see a little more wit and or banter--the second half of the book's more serious nature didn't seem to allow for this though. Finally, along those lines, while there is some romance, most of the book is taken up with the heroine's blatant refusal to marry and her following refusal to flirt. In the end, then, it seems more geared to a younger reader due to the storyline's simplicity--think of a Jane Austen-like quick resolution. The tightly wrapped up ending accentuates this feeling of simplicity despite some absolutely horrid creations of character that evoke real feelings of hatred in the reader.
A recommended light read, but not as good as CD.
It is simply, elegantly written, with a brevity that does not in any way detract from the story and characterizations.
A very, very, good book, one which I have gone back to over the years.
I was hooked from the moment the story began. The main character, Corie, is going with her Uncle Jaxon on a trip to hunt aliora, a type of mystical and ethereal being that lives past the Faelyn River. Corie and her Uncle Jaxon are accompanied by Prince Bryan (Corie's crush), Kent (the prince's cousin), Damien (the prince's food taster), and Roderick (a guardsman). Together, the six members of the hunting expedition travel to the Faelyn river, where Corie happens to catch her Uncle Jaxon conversing with the queen of the aliora from across the river. When she returns to the castle, she questions the aliora's presence there for the first time. At this point, Corie is thirteen years old and doesn't quite want to acknowledge the dark side of life at Castle Auburn. Throughout the story, she comes to realize the horrors that involve the capturing of aliora and how they are then sold into slavery to serve the wealthy peoples of humankind.
Corie faces a lot of disillusionment in her sixteenth summer at Castle Auburn. Not only is she troubled by the truth behind the aliora's presence, she begins to see the cruel, selfish nature of her beloved Prince Bryan, with whom she silently worshiped and envied her older half-sister for being betrothed to. She realizes for the first time that Elisandra, her sister, is not at all excited about the prospect of marrying Prince Bryan and is, in fact, dreading it. Corie's relationship with her Uncle Jaxon, the most successful aliora hunter, splinters as she pulls herself further away in an effort to make sense of how someone with so much love to give could be so cruel and heartless to another, specially after her Uncle Jaxon captures a young aliora girl.
I thought the story was very suspenseful and tense. The book is divided into three parts: In the first, Corie is thirteen; in the second, Corie is sixteen; and in the third, she is nineteen. Each section of the book has an increasingly older feel. The first part is very lighthearted and joyous, whereas the latter two are considerably darker and more mature. I enjoyed that the author was able to convey changes in Corie through tone rather than 'telling-and-not-showing'. I found all of the characters three-dimensional and realistic; the author was able to portray a character accurately and quickly with a few succinct descriptions. The portrayal of castle and village life was extensive and very intriguing. It's obvious that the author is well-researched, and she is able to portray historical truths in a way that is natural and treatable, almost as if taking you back to that time and place.
The one thing that bothered me about the book was the ending. You see, throughout the entire book, the relationship between Corie and Kent, the prince's cousin, is explored and elaborated. I knew from the moment Kent stepped inside the stable in preparation for the hunting expedition that he would play a large part in the story -- and I wasn't disappointed! Quickly after the story began, the author began establishing their relationship and his character. There is a lot of romantic tension between the two, and it is pretty obvious that Kent harbors deeper feelings for Corie. There were times where my faith in this area was shaken because Corie begins to suspect that Kent is in love with Elisandra, despite his claims that he is not.
Also, there are times in the story where it seems that Corie is developing feelings for Roderick, the guardsman, so I had a hard time gauging who would end up with who until the story started to wrap up. The fact that Roderick and Elisandra ended up together was a very nice, sweet surprise that had me jumping up and down and squealing like one of Justin Bieber's fan girls. Corie and Kent do end up getting married, which I was very happy about, but I wish the author would have paid more attention to the wrapping up of their story.
I'm very picky about romance, and the romantic tension between Corie and Kent affected me in a way that I can't even describe. My heart was fluttering and my stomach was writhing throughout the entire book, culminating in a rather exhausting reading experience. All of the little exchanges between Corie and Kent are magnetic, realistic, deep, and sweet. I absolutely adored Kent's character, and I was so upset when I was briefly fooled into believing that he was in love with Elisandra. Everything was going really, really well, and then Kent suddenly dropped off the face of the earth and it seemed to me that the author was being deliberately vague about him to make the reader wonder if he would ever come around and admit his feelings. Corie and Kent's relationship isn't resolved until, like, the last ten pages of the book and when he does propose, it's so random and straightforward.
On top of that, there is no description of their wedding or married life. There is no first kiss. Even though Corie does notice Kent and does gradually fall in love with him, the progression of her feelings aren't discussed all that much. I would have liked to know more about Corie in her role as queen because I had thought earlier in the book, before I ever knew how the story would end, that Corie would make a great queen with her warm, generous personality and knowledge of herbs and medicine.
Don't get me wrong, the ending wasn't disappointing enough that it detracted from my liking of the book. It's just... I thought Corie and Kent were each very solid characters and I thought their relationship was the best thing since sliced bread, so I felt the ending didn't fully measure up to how they had been earlier portrayed. And because there is so much tension and uncertainty revolving them, I couldn't help feeling jipped when the author waited until the last possible second to throw her readers a crumb.
I will definitely be reading Summers at Castle Auburn again. It's honestly one of my favorite fairy-tales, and has been one of the best and most exciting reading experiences of my life.
Most recent customer reviews
A latter day Young Adult fairy-tale that tries to tackle darker themes.Read more