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The Castle Behind Thorns

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  1,227 Ratings  ·  238 Reviews
Stories don’t know everything.

When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. The stories all said the place was ruined by an earthquake, and Sand did not expect to find everything inside torn in half or slashed to bits. Nothing lives here and nothing grows, except the vicious, thorny bramble that prevents Sand from leaving. Why wasn’t
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
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Sherwood Smith
Jul 14, 2015 Sherwood Smith added it
Shelves: fantasy
Ever since I reached an age where Disney's Sleeping Beauty (which I adored as a seven year old) suddenly turned kind of eugh, what with the guy Aurora barely knew creeping up while she was asleep and kissing her, I have wanted a sleeping beauty story with all the elements but no eugh.

This book comes pretty close to being what I wanted.

Haskell creates an alternate Renaissance era France, with magic as well as miracles existing uncomfortably side by side (as these did when Philip Melanchthon, Mart
Aug 23, 2013 Hallie rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

I very much wish I'd written this up as soon as I finished it, because just about every element worked so well and I'd like to be able to do more than a list of "this worked for me, and this worked, and oh, hey, this worked!" I was pretty well hooked from the opening which had lovely echoes of the opening of Patricia McKillip's Song for the Basilisk. I was very taken with the idea of Sand's careful and painstaking rebuilding of bits and pieces of the ruined castle in which he found him

A expression that I wouldn't use to describe this book:

A Magical adventure
(unlike what appears in its synopsis)

This is not a magical adventure. This is a book about the journey of two teens, and by journey, I am referring to a journey of the heart.

And no, I am not talking about romance. Forget about romance. This is a book about faith, forgiveness, and friendship, a story unlike any other I've ever read!

Also I wouldn't place this book in the so called middle grade "box". This is a very slow b
Brandy Painter
4.5 stars

Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Merrie Haskell is one of those authors that always surprises me. I have gone into each of her three books expecting one thing, and getting something entirely different. Is The Castle Behind Thorns a retelling of "Sleeping Beauty"? Yes. But it is a throughly unique and different take on the story. And I adored it.

This is a review of an ARC received from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

This is a quiet tale, one that unf
May 19, 2014 Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I honestly don't have much to say; I thought this was good, and the tone well done, and Sand's horror in particular communicated very well - but I also thought the novel's setting, its sense of place, was a little confused. This is a real medieval fantasy setting, with magic and castles, and yet it's got a bit of actual history and religion as well, and I didn't find the two to be particularly well integrated.

And the ending rubbed me the wrong way, but that could be my biases, and no fault of th
Oct 08, 2013 Cecelia rated it it was amazing
Reading is a weird, personal experience. Likewise deciding what to read. Once I’ve settled on a book (enticed by the cover art, title, summary, author or the recommendation of someone I trust) my strange behavior escalates. I tend to avoid (or at best, skim) reviews of the chosen book. And after I’ve made a decision not to spoil a book for myself, years may go by, I may even change my mind about reading it, and still steer clear of reviews. It’s slightly obsessive behavior, but it’s just standar ...more
Dec 01, 2013 Yune rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
Eee! I got an ARC!

You might think from the title that this is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but like all of Haskell's novels, despite the fairy tale inspiration, it's a far more complex story that leans solidly upon history and is better regarded as an original fantasy tale.

I had a moment of déjà vu when I started reading this, because the first line felt so much like Patricia McKillip's Song for the Basilisk, in which a boy is hiding in a fireplace, so desperate to be overlooked that he think
Nov 09, 2013 Jasmine rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this series, and I am so sad to say goodbye to the castle.

Um, perfect medieval story about mending, friendships, survival, and now to live properly. Also, smithing.
Shae McDaniel
I've been eyeing Ms. Haskell's books for a while now, since most in my circle seem to genuinely enjoy her work. For The Castle Behind Thorns, I was expecting a fairytale adventure with some sneakytimes and maybe an itsy bit of romance. I didn't quite get what I was expecting, but neither did this book disappoint.

As the synopsis promises, the book starts when Sand wakes up inside an abandoned castle that is split in half. Literally everything from the cabbage
Apr 01, 2014 Henrietta rated it it was amazing
This story began with a boy named Sand waking up inside an abandoned castle. Without knowing how he got inside the castle, Sand attempted to leave but the thorns surrounding the castle attacked him, making him feel irritated, annoyed and desolated. With all exits blocked by thorns, could Sand manage to survive long enough before someone came and rescued him?

I was so glad that this story wasn’t about Sand waiting for people to come and get him out of a bad place. Sand was in distress but he didn’
Mel (Daily Prophecy)
Mweh. I'm a bit underwhelmed.. I liked the idea, but it was a bit too long for the plot. The characters development was not bad (which was a good thing, since Perrotte wasn't very likable in the beginning) Review will follow.
Sep 02, 2013 Ally rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read a manuscript of this one, and I absolutely fell head over heels in love with it. I can't wait until I'm able to share it with everyone I know.
Oct 10, 2013 Nafiza rated it really liked it
Merrie Haskell writes wondrous middle grade fiction and her newest offering, The Castle Behind Thorns, is just as readable and evocative as the other two. Like her previous novels, The Castle Behind Thorns, too, retells, in its own way, a fairy tale, this time Sleeping Beauty. It is a direct retelling as Haskell chooses which elements of the “original” story she wants to tell and which one she wants to either get rid of or subvert.

The story begins with Sand, an aspiring blacksmith, waking up in
Nikki (Fiction Freak)
Dec 18, 2013 Nikki (Fiction Freak) rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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I’m actually a giant fan of Fantasy Middle Grade, so hearing about The Castle Behind Thorns made me ecstatic. Especially with “secrets and a dark history.” Secrets indeed!The magic in this story is vivid and creative and completely original. I loved the story behind the castle behind the thorns and I loved the haunting mystery. Right from the start, there’s a sort of curiosity in the atmosphere and you can’t help but get caught up in the story. L
Feb 16, 2016 Erin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Sand is the son of a blacksmith living in rural France. Unexpectedly, he one day wakes up inside an abandoned castle and finds himself trapped there. The castle has been sundered, or split in two, and surrounded by magical thorns that attack anything that moves. Everything inside the castle has been damaged. Not knowing what else to do, Sand uses his blacksmithing skills to mend things so he can survive. Then suddenly Perrotte appears. She is the heir of the castle...and was dead, now returned t ...more
Library Lady
I love a good fairytale retelling as much as the next person, but what I really don't like is when an author writes one and then doesn't acknowledge that he or she has done so, choosing instead to pretend that what is so obviously a retelling-- or maybe more accurately, a reinterpretation-- is truly original. A simple cursory browse through the Internet will show that "Sleeping Beauty" was originally French. So all of the references to France pinpointed the story to it's origins, as did many oth ...more
May 11, 2014 (ha)Ley rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy
I have been quite impressed by the middle grade I've read this month. Upon finishing, I was just kinda stunned. I was not expecting this. This was way better than I thought it'd be

Sometimes middle-grade feels really juvenile, but this was not at all the case in The Castle Behind Thorns. The anger and sadness Perrotte feels about what happened to her added a layer of darkness and matureness I was not expecting. Unexpected but awesome. This book raises some interesting questions about forgiveness,
Jan 21, 2014 Brenda rated it really liked it
Recommended to Brenda by: Goodreads First Reads Program
I really enjoyed Haskell's twist on Sleeping Beauty. Sand is such a determined young boy and has such a sense of right and wrong. I love how he doesn't just brood about being in the castle all by himself and instead sets things in motion to find food for himself from the broken spices and items left in the pantry. Even getting water becomes a huge task, but Sand uses his imagination and crafts things out of the broken items as best he can. Perrotte initially comes off as a rude, spoiled princess ...more
Apr 14, 2014 Dawn rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Wendy, AJ, Jess, Kate, others
So I found a good author and kept reading. This third book by Haskell is the best yet! This time the setting is medieval France and loosely based on Sleeping Beauty. At least the beginning of the story reminds the reader of Sleeping Beauty. But don't expect things to develop like that fairy tale. This story is its own and it is fascinating in my opinion. I loved Haskell's exploration of forgiveness and restitution in this book! I didn't expect it, but it is powerful, metaphors and all. Haskell h ...more
Haskell is the author of the appealing teen fantasy, Handbook for Dragon Slayers, which had some limitations, but one feels she has honed her writing skills in this really outstanding new juvenile fantasy. Sand, a blacksmith's son, awakens most oddly in the fireplace of a deserted, destroyed castle. He has seen the castle his entire life, but has never entered it, smothered as it is in sharp thorns, broken and abandoned and associated with a mysterious, distant curse. It is soon painfully eviden ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Jan 19, 2016 Kathleen Dixon rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kathleen by: the Bookshop
Take the idea of Sleeping Beauty - a castle surrounded by a forest of thorns, a princess waiting to be awakened, a young man ... - place it somewhere in France (actually, it's much more precise than 'somewhere' but I don't know any French geography and haven't gone to an atlas to check it out) not too long after the time of Joan of Arc, and then turn everything else on its head, and you've got this book.

The lad wakes up in the cold ashes of a huge fireplace. How did he get there? He's inside the
Apr 15, 2014 Samantha rated it it was amazing
"Sand isn't sure how he ended up waking up in the forgotten castle hidden behind thorns. When he sees the thorns won't let him leave, he does the only thing he can think of and starts repairing all the broken parts of the castle. When he finds the long lost heiress, Perrotte, awakened after many years of sleep, they must work together to find a way to heal the kingdom." Full review at Fresh Fiction:
May 13, 2014 Alix rated it really liked it
I got this book because it was on a list or something, and it sat on my shelf for a few weeks because I thought it would be another mediocre jfic with an enticing cover. I was pleasantly surprised and v very into this book! a fun new fairytale. there were a few redundancies in the beginning, but luckily that didn't continue. thought it was super cool that the author is also an anthropology major, and works in a library, like me!
Feb 11, 2015 Anika rated it it was amazing
This book is the best book I've ever read. I have read some amazing books in the past, but nothing compares with this book. I have mentally put it in the number 1 slot on my favorite book list. I love fantisy, so this book was perfect.
Merrie Haskell is an amazing writer. I give this book a five star all the way.
Emily S.
Apr 19, 2015 Emily S. rated it it was amazing
This book was absolutely delightful. I loved every minute of it. Many thanks to my dear friend, Rebekah, for recommending it! I surely wouldn't have come across it on my own. This is one that will be finding a spot in my personal library and my classroom library as well.
Claire Scott
Hm. I think if the setting had worked better for me, I would have enjoyed this much more. As it was, the mashup of "historical" vs "magical" was jarring and awkward.
Jodi Meadows
Sep 25, 2014 Jodi Meadows rated it it was amazing
This story is delightful, with friendship, forgiveness, and blacksmithing.
Mar 01, 2017 Preston rated it really liked it
The title summarizes the book pretty well. As a Blacksmith boy named Sand is awoken in the castle behind thorns. Sand slips his way through simple necessities by doing what he loves and does best, Blacksmithing. As he mends the castle little by little he discovers how skilled he actually is at mending which anyone else including Sand would consider magic. One of the things Sand puts back together is a human life. Perrotte, his new companion, the lost heir to the castle, is revived they both reve ...more
Laura Hodgins
Oct 29, 2016 Laura Hodgins rated it liked it
I really liked the idea of it and the characters some what. It dragged a little in the middle and the end and I felt it could have been better but a three plus.
Jan 06, 2014 Anya rated it liked it
The Castle Behind the Thorns by Merrie Haskell is a middle grade fantasy where a boy named Sand wakes up trapped in a castle where literally everything (down to the bedsheets and individual pieces of straw in the stable) is broken (or ripped, or bent, or split in half). This castle is surrounded by a giant hedge of raspberry thorns that actively attack Sand when he tries to leave. Things get curiouser and curiouser as Sand starts to try to fix a few things and survive in this castle until he can ...more
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“Mens videt astra.
(The soul sees the stars.)”
“Child, you do not forgive because the person who wronged deserves it.You misunderstand the point of forgiveness entirely. The only cage that a grudge creates is around the holder of that grudge. Forgiveness is not saying that the person who hurt you was right, or has earned it, or is allowed to hurt you again. All forgiveness means is that you will carry on without the burdens of rage and hatred.” 3 likes
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