(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Verity Boone hasn't been back to the small mountain town of Catawissa, Pennsylvania, since she left it behind as a toddler. Raised by an aunt in Boston after her mother's death, Verity barely remembers "home." Still, the 17-year-old is excited to return. In Catawissa, she'll finally be able to meet her fiancee who, judging by his romantic letters, is absolutely perfect.
Verity is confused by the cool reception she receives in Catawissa—not just from the father she barely knows, but also from his housekeeper, Verity's intended, and pretty much everyone else in town—until she discovers the source of their apprehension. Outside the village's cemetery gates are two graves, one belonging to Verity's mother, the other to her mother's sister. Unlike those inside the cemetery, these are caged. The sight sends shivers down Verity's spine. No one in town will explain the cages except to say that, sometimes, Catawissa's dead refuse to stay put. Verity can't believe the town gossip—that her mother and aunt were dangerous witches who needed to be imprisoned even in death—but she's still unnerved by the idea. What is the real reason for the caged graves? Who was Verity's mother, really? And is it true, what the townsfolk say about restless spirits? In between trying to understand her confounding fiancee, ignoring her growing feelings for another man, and getting to know her distant father, Verity intends to find out the answers to the town's deepest, darkest mysteries.
The Caged Graves, a haunting historical mystery by Dianne K. Salerni, was inspired by the intriguing existence of two caged graves in present-day Catawissa. No one knows the reason for the cages, but the possibilities are spooky indeed. Salerni's imagined story definitely provides a few chills, although it's more of a mystery than a horror show. While the tale is predictable in some ways, it's surprising in others, making it on-the-whole, a very compelling novel. The ending did disappoint a bit—still, I enjoyed this one.
(Readalikes: Reminded me a little of The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, scary images, and mild sexual innuendo
To the FTC, with love: Another library