Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Love of The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

This book first piqued my interest when I saw it in the library last year, but I was only really encouraged to read it this year when it became a Green Mountain Book Award nominee for 2014-2015, and I’m very glad I did! I loved The Caged Graves…


Series: None!

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 4.5 stars


17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she trusted.

Inspired by a pair of real caged graves in present-day Catawissa, this historical YA novel weaves mystery, romance, and action into a suspenseful drama with human greed and passion at its core.


This book first piqued my interest when I saw it in the library last year, but I was only really encouraged to read it this year when it became a Green Mountain Book Award nominee for 2014-2015, and I’m very glad I did! I loved The Caged Graves, which cleverly combined a number of genres together to create one unique mystery in a historical setting with hints of paranormal and a love triangle!

Focusing on the mystery part of The Caged Graves, it was very complex with both the mystery of the caged graves themselves, along with other surprising connections and suspicious actions popping up all over the place. However, some parts, such as whom to trust and whom not to, were quite predictable. Luckily, unless you know quite a bit about the time period (late 1800s), botany, and Catawissa, Pennsylvania, it is nearly impossible to guess the true motives and methods of the “bad guys.”

One thing that disappointed me was that I was not entirely convinced of Verity’s love for whomever she chooses (no spoilers!). Although I did like both characters in the love triangle, I didn’t fully understand her reasons for liking her final decision. They are not a couple I would ever “ship,” as teenagers (not me) would say these days.

I highly recommend this book for fellow lovers of Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama for a number of reasons. First of all, although Monstrous Beauty also takes place in modern times, it switches back and forth between that and 1627 and 1872, similar to The Caged Grave‘s time period of 1867. In addition, the romantic feel is very similar, as is the paranormal and grave/murder-related mystery.

Something my favorite librarian Peter said in my discussion with him is that when reading the description and beginning of this book, you would expect some sort of paranormal or fantasy influence. (Spoiler) However, it turns out not to be the case at all, which made the story seem more surprising and much more believable.

I could not put this book down, and was enthralled with the mystery of the graves, the strange town, and which of her potential love interests she would choose. I highly recommend this book! The Caged Graves is one of my top favorite Green Mountain Book Award nominees for 2014-2015!


4 comments on “Gwen’s Love of The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

  1. siamesemayhem
    December 6, 2014

    It sounds like she and the guy she picked just didn’t fit.

    From the summary and your review, I’m suspecting witchcraft trials, but if not, I’m going to be very pleasantly surprised.

    • gwenkate
      December 6, 2014

      Well, I don’t think she fit well with either guy, but it could just be me.
      And no official “witchcraft trials,” no — of course there are suspicions of “witchy behavior,” but this does not play a major part in the story, and is not really followed up on.
      You should give it a try! ~Gwen

      • siamesemayhem
        December 6, 2014

        Maybe it was one of those books in which romance could have been left out.

        Yes, I will. Witchcraft trials bore me; since there seems to be a twist on the usual, I’ll look it up.

        Thanks for the review!

      • gwenkate
        December 6, 2014

        This book would be half as thick if there was no romance, and would not have a reason to begin (the description explains what I mean). But I recommend looking into it. Thanks for visiting my blog! ~Gwen

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This entry was posted on December 6, 2014 by in Author: Gwen, Favorites, Review, Young Adult and tagged , , .
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