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The Castle Behind Thorns

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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  767 ratings  ·  178 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
...more
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
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Newbery 2015
30th out of 110 books — 493 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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Hallie
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
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Susana


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
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Beth
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
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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
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Cecelia
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
Shae/Shelver
ORIGINALLY REVIEWS AT WWW.SHAELIT.COM
I've been eyeing Ms. Haskell's books for a while now, since most in my circle seem to genuinely enjoy her work. ForThe 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 i
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Henrietta
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’
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Yune
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
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Phoebe
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
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
Mel
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.
Jasmine
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.
Ally
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.
Dawn
Oct 09, 2014 Dawn rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Nafiza
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
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Brenda
May 05, 2014 Brenda rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Anika
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.
Robyn
Gift from Dad |

Unexpected and complicated, my unfairly low expectations were far exceeded. |

I read a fair amount of middle grade fiction, mostly fantasy, so I do know how good it can be, I'm not an adult who thinks that writing for a youthful audience necessarily means writing 'down' or thinly. For some reason, however, the synopsis of this, while interesting enough for me to put it on my wishlist, did not give me the impression of a deep, thoughtful story. Probably it was the 'Sleeping Beauty
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Aelvana
Sand isn't sure how he got to be inside Sundered Castle. But the how isn't nearly as pressing as the fact that the giant thorn hedge surrounding the place keeps him trapped inside as effectively as it once kept him from entering. And every single thing inside the castle is broken. To keep himself sane, to give himself a purpose, Sand begins to mend anything he can. Only to find the mending has a meaning far beyond he could have imagined . . .

I was not initially drawn to this book, but several o
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Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's novels reviewed on the blog will generally have some images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a novel is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate a nove
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Kristi
I picked, (well, snatched really) this up when I was at the Public Library Association conference in Indianapolis. I have read the previous two of Ms. Haskell's published books and was looking forward to reading this one as well.

Alexander, called Sand by most, wakes up in the long abandoned Sundered Castle. He wakes in the fireplace covered in ash with no idea of how he arrived. The last thing he recalls, he was seeking aid from the saints because his father wanted to send him away to universit
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Janice
What a wonderful take on the Sleeping Beauty story. The castle has always been there, but it is hidden behind a hedge of impenetrable raspberry thorns. No one can get there or even get close because the thorns destroy everything within reach. So you can imagine Sand’s amazement when he wakes up inside the castle. Everything has been destroyed inside. Sand is nothing if not resourceful. He starts with his immediate needs of food and water, and then slowly starts mending what he can in the broken ...more
Loretta
Utterly delightful, from start to finish. Unlike some, I didn't think the book started off slowly. I was entranced by Sand's exploration of the castle and his beginning attempts at mending things. The story seemed to unfold so naturally that I felt completely drawn into this world.

And I loved the world for all its realness AND strangeness. Ultimately it could be (well, IS) our world (in the medieval age), but with a touch of magic or mystery tossed in. It reads like a fairy tale, but something m
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Venus
When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. Old stories say that the castle was abandoned after a terrible earthquake, but Sand quickly begins to wonder if those stories are true. Everything in the castle has been broken and split in half, from the apples to the anvils, hammers to stuffed birds. The food has not rotted away, no bugs or birds live inside the walls, and the thorny brambles have a mind of their own. Not sure what else to do and unable to es ...more
Gaby
When I first saw the cover and read the title for the book, I was intrigued. The Castle Behind Thorns… I thought, well that sounds kind of epic and the image on the cover, a boy facing the broken door of a castle surrounded by thorns, yeah it drew me in for sure and I’m so glad I got to read this, because it was a great book.

It all begins as a boy called Sand wakes up inside the fireplace of an abandoned castle but he has no idea how he got there, he had seen the castle before but people have go
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Teresa Scherping
Sand awakens in the cold ashes of a fireplace, in a room he does not recognize. Everything around him is broken, sundered, torn or cracked in half. He soon realizes that he is inside the mysterious castle he's always seen near his village but has never been in. In fact, this castle has been abandoned and surrounded by an impenetrable wall of thorns since his father was a boy. Sand has so many questions. How did he get inside the castle? How will he get out? Why is everything around him broken? A ...more
Samantha
"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: http://freshfiction.com/review.php?id...
Alix
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!
Evelyn Ink
Haskell takes a small slice from the classic fairy tale sleeping beauty, and then runs in a completely different direction with it. Both Sand and Perrott are well developed characters. Sand is intelligent (but not book smart), grounded, easy-going, but not at all one who can be pushed around. He is stubborn, truthful, and forgiving. Perrotte is book smart, but lacks common sense. She has a temper, can be cutting and rude, is bossy, and at times dishonest. She has a past laden with unkindness and ...more
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(The soul sees the stars.)”
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