I absolutely loved this book.
It is a small story, one that doesn't take on the end of the world, or some monumentally epic adventure, or anything of the sort. It is about a girl - Verity Boone - who returns to her hometown of Catawissa, PA fifteen years after the death of her mother, Sarah Ann, in the late 1800's. Verity was raised by her aunt, and has been corresponding with a young man named Nathaniel, and they have fallen in love via their letters and agreed to marry after her return to Catawissa.
This is my third wonderful YA historical fiction book this year - the other two are Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys and In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. In the deluge of YA paranormals/dystopians these three books have really stood out to me as being something special. Well-written, small in scope, but absorbing, well-written and very compelling.
I don't want to give away spoilers, because when Verity arrives in Catawissa, she soon discovers that her mother has been buried on unhallowed ground with her young apprentice, who was married to Verity's Uncle John, and that their graves are inside of a metal cage. No one wants to tell Verity why the graves are untended, and why the metal cages are there. In addition, there is also some stolen Revolutionary War gold that figures prominently in the story.
Suffice it to say that nothing is as it seems in Catawissa. By this I do not mean that there are supernatural forces at work - this is a story of all-to-human nefariousness, greed and violence.
There is sort of a love triangle, as well, which I usually hate with the passion of a thousand burning suns. Here, though, it worked for me. Verity has her choice of two young men: Nate, the young farmer who is considered to be quite a catch, and the doctor's apprentice, Hadley Jones, who openly makes his interest in Verity known. I think that one of the reasons that it did work for me is because of the historical period setting. Verity was an appealing young woman because she was pretty, her father was a property owner, and because she had a polish to her that the Catawissa women lacked as a result of her upbringing.
It made sense to me that two young men would be vying for her affections - she was out of the common way in her little society. In addition, Verity acknowledges that both of them are attracted to her, and while she is a bit bewildered at the attention, she also recognizes that much of her appeal is related to the fact that she brings into any marriage the likelihood of financial gain to the successful suitor, and this bothers her. One of the reasons that I typically really dislike the love triangle is because it doesn't make sense that two exceptional males would be in love with the same quite unexceptional (often boring, petty, not very likeable) protagonist. The moment that she makes her choice is lovely, actually, and convincing.
Anyway, I am going to leave it at that, because I highly recommend this book, and don't want to spoil it.
One last quote, non-spoilerific:
"I thought love was - big and loud and sudden, like a thunderbolt." She looked back, meeting his eyes, "I didn't know it was deep and quiet and grew upon a woman slowly, until one day she realizes it's the very breath and smiles and tears of her life."
Page 131 of 326:
"Miss Boone, you don't want to stir up old trouble. Everyone's accustomed to those graves where they are and trying to make changes will just resurrect old stories."
"What stories?" Verity demanded.
"Nothing you want to hear my dear."
Somehow I expect that this is not going to satisfy Verity.
Page 112 of 321:
I am liking this one. Historical fiction. No paranormal, set in colonial New England. Story developing nicely. Rather introspective.