The Caged Graves was one of the Cybils books that I had heard some buzz about before I read it. This turned out to be because it’s a really nice book, full of rich historical detail and nice characters.
Although there’s a flashback/prologue at the beginning, the story really opens with Verity Boone returning to her hometown in Pennsylvania, after having been brought up by her Aunt in Massachusetts following her mother’s death. Already, I liked this set up a lot, because it’s the kind of situation that I’ve seen in stories from the time period, and which at the same time could be familiar for readers. Verity quickly discovers that her reason for coming–a long distance proposal from a young man in the town–is not quite what it seems, and that there is some mystery around the deaths and burials of her mother and her aunt.
From there, it’s a nice Gothicky mystery, as Verity tries to figure out why the townspeople seem so reluctant to discuss either her mother or her aunt. It reminded me a bit of Sarah Rees Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy books (though without the magic) because of the town full of secrets, the determined main character, and the warmth within the family. I believed that Randall Boone loved his wife and his daughter and that he was genuinely trying to do the best he could by them.
I also liked the romance, which gave me a love triangle that worked for me. I bought both Verity’s initial hesitations, and the reasons she changed her mind. It was sweet and slow-burning and made me happy.
Other things–Salerni’s writing is clean and unobtrusive, which is sometimes hard to achieve in historical fiction. I wasn’t surprised by the resolution of the mystery, but I didn’t find this annoying. All in all, this is one I would definitely recommend to both mystery fans and historical fiction fans.
Book source: public library
Book information: 2013, Clarion Books; YA, historical fiction, mystery
I read this book for the 2013 Cybils. You’ll be able to see all of my Cybils reviews by clicking here.