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The Caged Graves

Review

The Caged Graves

Author Dianne Salerni writes a historical novel that takes place in her home state of Pennsylvania. Salerni was inspired by two caged graves that she came across one day. The two headstones had the names Sarah Ann and Asenath chiseled on them, which became two of the characters in Salerni’s story. The iron bars that encased the graves became a mystery to the author, and she decided to make her own conclusion as to why these were constructed.

"Overall, this is historical novel that is written around these mysterious graves, and Salerni does a great job of absorbing the reader into the details of this specific time period."

It’s the year 1867; Verity Boone is headed back to her home town in Catawissa, Pennsylvania. She reunites with her father who she barely knows and is set to marry a man who she has nothing in common with, named Nathaniel McClure. Nate has been sending love letters to Verity for years, and once she finally meets him, he explains that his sisters have been writing them for him. Verity then realizes this may not be the man she would like to spend the rest of her life with after all. Dr. Jones takes a liking to Verity and wishes she wouldn’t marry the man that supposedly loves her. Verity is torn between the two men and can’t decide which path she should choose.

One afternoon, while walking up a steep hill with Nate, Verity notices a graveyard behind a chapel. They walk over and notice two graves set apart from the burial ground. Iron cages are wrapped around the tombs and secured locks placed on the sides. The tombstones have the names Sarah Ann Boone and Asenth Thomas carved on the plaques. One is Verity’s mother, and the other is her aunt. There isn’t an explanation written on the tombstones about how they died or why they were buried inside of the cages. Verity decides to investigate this further, and she finds her mother’s diary inside of a box in her attic. The diary reveals a sickness that both her mother and her aunt both endured. Were these cages to keep grave robbers out, or were they to keep the dead in?

The concept of this story was very interesting. However, I do wish that the plot was more about the graves than about Verity and Nate’s romance. Overall, this is historical novel that is written around these mysterious graves, and Salerni does a great job of absorbing the reader into the details of this specific time period. I would relate this book to LITTLE WOMEN or LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE because of the similarities in writing style and of the subject matter.

Reviewed by Sheena Kowalski on May 2, 2013

The Caged Graves
by Dianne K. Salerni

  • Publication Date: May 14, 2013
  • Genres: Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books
  • ISBN-10: 0547868537
  • ISBN-13: 9780547868530