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The Perilous Gard

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,239 Ratings  ·  524 Reviews
In 1558, while exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle known as Perilous Gard, young Kate Sutton becomes involved in a series of mysterious events that lead her to an underground world peopled by Fairy Folk—whose customs are even older than the Druids’ and include human sacrifice.
Paperback, 280 pages
Published October 29th 2001 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1974)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
I was singing the praises of Pamela Dean's version of the Tam Lin tale in a review the other day, knowing full well that that novel will only appeal to a limited subset of the fraction of readers who like fairy tale novelizations. This one is for all of you who prefer a more traditional retelling of Tam Lin. It also leaves out the racier aspects of the Tam Lin story (the woman who saves her lover from the fairy queen is pregnant with his child), so this one's safe for the younger crowd, but stil ...more
Cara
Dec 31, 2013 Cara rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Tudor England and fairy lore
Gosh, I had forgotten so much since I first read this. I read it a couple of years back and every time I thought of the book I had fond memories, but why exactly it had that effect was slipping from my memory.

Honestly I read this book because it was labeled fantasy and at the time that was all I would read and it was one of the only books in the library I hadn't read (it was a very small library). The cover wasn't glittery or a standout in anyway, but I dived in regardless of the cover. This
...more
Mariel
Sep 18, 2010 Mariel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: I've got you under my skin
Recommended to Mariel by: NOT Lauren
Shelves: my-love-life
Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Gard taught me a lesson that what can get under one person's skin, sink into their minds and out and out *haunt* them is nothing but a casual read to someone else (alrighty, I've learned this lesson before. But you know what they say, if it didn't stick then you didn't really learn it). When I read and fell in love with 'Gard', I excitedly presented it to my twin (whom I at least attempt to share with anything that matters to me). "Oh, I read that years ago." ...more
Jacob Proffitt
Mar 10, 2015 Jacob Proffitt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I know I've read this before—some images and scenes stand out in memory. Fortunately for me, I couldn't remember much more than a set piece here or there. Which means it was like reading it for the first time, only with a pleasant tang of anticipation for spice.

Not that the book needed any kind of boost. It's a near perfect fantasy novel of the mostly-realistic sort. It's historically based (1558, to be specific), but the Fair Folk are real enough to be a threat. I could go on about the intricac
...more
Hallie
This is one of the most often re-read books in our house - definitely the one I read to the daughters the greatest number of times. And with good reason, as it's fantastic. First there's the Tam Lin element, which is used beautifully here. Then there's some of the best dialogue ever ('You don't look like any god to me, Christopher Heron. You look like a piece of gilded gingerbread.') And Kate's a wonderful heroine - intelligent, stubborn when it's about doing what she feels she should (or not ta ...more
Nikki
The Perilous Gard was a reread for me — somewhat at random, in fact. It’s just by my elbow in my new desk/shelf set-up, and I was procrastinating on my assignment, and I found myself reading it… And I have no idea why I rated it so poorly before. The writing is great; you can envision every scene, whether it be the sumptuous bedroom Kate awakes in or a grassy hollow in the wood, the overhanging threat of stone and stone and more stone or the brightness of a Faerie gathering. It makes every scene ...more
Suzannah
(Review originally published at Vintage Novels).

Elizabeth Marie Pope is an author (of vintage YA historical fantasy) whose books I've been waiting to try out for quite a long time. My opportunity came a few short months back when I finally tracked her books down on Open Library (which is an amazing source for vintage and otherwise hard-to-find books!). I read The Sherwood Ring just before Christmas, and found it every bit as adorable as I'd ever heard it was, though I had a couple of philosophic
...more
Maureen E
Every so often I start hankering for a favorite book. It's almost like craving a particular food. Only that flavor will do. Recently, that hankering turned towards The Perilous Gard, one of my favorite books for, oh, years. As a bonus, it's also historical fantasy and a Tam Lin retelling, two awesome subgenres.

Kate Sutton is a lady in waiting to Princess Elizabeth, along with her younger sister Alicia. Alicia is beautiful and fluffy-minded and, when she becomes outraged over the living condition
...more
Melissa McShane
I actually read this twice this year because:

1) It is one of the best historical fantasies ever written;
2) I didn't review it the first time, lost the immediacy, and had to read it again to do it justice;
3) Because Feelings;
4) It takes me like two hours to read it. Seriously. Why wouldn't I spend two hours this way?

The Perilous Gard was written in a time before people really knew what Young Adult fiction should look like. This is why it's shelved in the middle grade section even though the main
...more
Chachic
Nov 11, 2011 Chachic rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fairy fans
Originally posted here.

I've had my copy of The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope since 2007 and I only got to read it recently. I don't know why I kept putting it off but I'm glad I finally picked it up. I've heard such good things about it and I believe I got the original recommendation for this from Sounis. I've been meaning to put up a Retro Friday post for a while and since this is an oldie but goodie, it seemed perfect for the meme.

Kate is a lady's maid to Lady Elizabeth, sister to the
...more
Margaret
The Perilous Gard is set in late Tudor times; the heroine, Kate Sutton, is one of the lady Elizabeth's handmaidens, exiled by Queen Mary for a letter Kate's sister wrote to her. Kate is sent to Elvenwood, also called "the Perilous Gard", where she's immediately intrigued by Christopher, the enigmatic brother of the master of the castle, Sir Geoffrey Heron. Soon, she discovers the secrets kept by the people of the castle, and to her peril, discovers also the mysterious residents of the land aroun ...more
Olga Godim
Apr 04, 2016 Olga Godim rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
4.5 stars
What a charming story. Written in 1974, it might be a little lumbering and meandering for the modern hectic pace, but the excellent protagonist and the complexity of concept more than make up for the author’s somewhat extra-rich embroidery of descriptions.
In the beginning of the story, seventeen-year old Kate is a maid of honor to the Princess Elizabeth Tudor, before Elizabeth became Queen. For a minor transgression that wasn’t even Kate’s, Queen Mary exiles her to a remote castle know
...more
Valerie
Dec 22, 2013 Valerie rated it it was amazing
I have half a mind just to reread all my favorite books. It's way more satisfying than I thought it would be. I first read this book about 4 years ago and forgot why I loved it so much. I actually forgot a lot more than I thought I did, but it's definitely a book worth rereading.

From the start we see that Kate is in trouble for something her prettier, younger sister did and so is sent off to the Perilous Gard. Once there she finds little comfort from anyone. Just the maid's occasional complaints
...more
Kami
Nov 15, 2007 Kami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What could not be said about this fabulous book?!?!?! I love it!!! One of the few books (along with Jane Austen's and the Bronte's) that I read over and over. It perfectly entwines historical fiction with the lore of the fairy folk in a completely believable manner. I really like how the fairy folk were kept true to the old legends and poems of them being sinister and evil. I also loved the herione, she's great; I hate when the main character is an idiot. And the love story is fabulous. Why don' ...more
Andree
Not talking about this one right now. For secret reasons.

2015 Reading Challenge - A Book with Magic
Brandy Painter
The Perilous Gard is a reworking of the Scottish ballad of Tam Lin. Or it might be more accurate to say the ballad of Tam Lin is worked into this story which stands on its own merits beautifully.

During 16th century England Kate Sutton is exiled to a mysterious fortress called Elvenwood Manor but historically referred to as the Perilous Gard. As soon as she arrives she is drawn into the life of another of the castle's inhabitants, Christopher Heron the younger brother of the owner. He is haunted
...more
Res
Mar 28, 2009 Res rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff
Another Tam Lin retelling, this time involving young Kate, whose beautiful and very stupid sister insults Queen Mary Tudor and gets Kate exiled to a castle where strange doings are afoot.

Very fine. Kate is just the sort of character I love -- proud, highly intelligent, a bit socially awkward. She's just distant enough from her feelings that a story in her POV is emotionally subtle, without being so distant from them that they don't come across at all. Christopher is appropriately troubled for a
...more
Nikki
I'm sure someone said to me that they found it hard to read The Perilous Gard, but I didn't find it so -- I really enjoyed it, and found it quite easy to get into. I half-expected to be following Alicia from the start, but that wouldn't have been half so interesting: Katherine felt much more real, right from the start, and I'm glad the story followed her. It was also pretty interesting that it was set in a historical context, instead of being relatively lightly rooted in time: Queen Mary is on t ...more
Christina Baehr
Mar 13, 2016 Christina Baehr rated it it was amazing
Oh, that was so much fun.

A fast-paced Tudor mystery/adventure, with shades of Jane Eyre and The Princess and the Goblin, and a philosophical showdown between Druidic paganism and near-Reformation Christianity.

Audio book listening friends, it's on Audible!
Hannah
Nov 03, 2012 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
What can I say? Awesomeness-- pure and simple awesomeness. I know no other book that has such a genuine feel for the Tudor period and the ancient Druid culture. Kate and Christopher are attractive leading characters and Alicia very entertaining as well. If you guys haven't read this one, you really should--it's not too long, and it's really worth your time.
Stargazer R.L.
Dec 20, 2014 Stargazer R.L. rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Stargazer by: Hannah
Wow. Just wow. The Perilous Gard is an amazing story. Dark creepy mysterious fairies, a well, human sacrifice, a great heroine, a wonderful awesome dark hero, and England. If that isn't creepy and awesome I don't know what is. This book is great. It's kind of creepy but I love it. It made me think a lot of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.
Anne Stengl
Sep 05, 2013 Anne Stengl rated it it was amazing
I love the ballad of TAM LIN, and Elizabeth Marie Pope's retelling of that famous poem is clever, dark, surprising, funny, elegant, mysterious, and ultimately wonderful. This was the last book to keep me up until 3:00 in the morning turning pages. I was not expecting to be so delighted, and I look forward to reading her other novel, THE SHERWOOD RING.
Kate Forsyth
I am so grateful to whoever it was that told me I should read this book - an absolute masterpiece of children's historical fantasy, written with such deftness and lightness of touch. It has become one of my all-time favourite children's books.
Sherwood Smith
May 05, 2009 Sherwood Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This taut, emotionally compelling but unsentimental look at fae I think has influenced a great many writers working in fantasy today.
Stephanie
Nov 22, 2015 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
I try to reread this every year around Halloween and it is so worth it every time.
steph
2.5 stars

You guys, I just.... I don't know how to type up this review. I didn't like the book until the last thirty pages or so. And considering this book is closer to 300 pages, that just was almost too much for me to take.

This book just felt dry and boring to me -I know! I know! You all loved it. It won the book battle! I clearly am in the minority here. Maybe it's because I don't really care for fantasy books, especially ones that have to do with a underground world of fairies that enchant hu
...more
Aranthe
Sep 04, 2010 Aranthe rated it really liked it
This is the third retelling of the Tam Lin ballad that I've read this year and the most enjoyable so far.

Kate Sutton is an intelligent, sensible heroine who keeps her wits about her, in more ways than one, when others are losing theirs. While this book appeals to some purely on the basis of (what has become almost obligatory in contemporary fiction) gender role-reversal, Kate isn't ye olde stock rebellious hoyden in masculine clothing, complete with sword. She's a young Elizabethan lady-in-wait
...more
Megan
Oct 15, 2014 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary-Beth
Apr 07, 2010 Mary-Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction, romance
The whole time I was reading this story I got the impression that I shouldn't be liking it as much as I liked it, but I couldn't help myself. It's a re-telling of the Tam Lin tale and it's set in the 16th century and the main character is a lady in waiting for Queen Mary who has been exiled to a remote castle.

I love the depiction of Faerie in this novel. It's an entirely otherworldly place dressed up with illusions for weak human eyes. The suffering of Christopher (the sacrificial victim) is muc
...more
Eileen
Dec 19, 2013 Eileen rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, fantasy-scifi
A love story, bildungsroman, and historical fantasy all in one; quite good. While there is a romance, the traditional boy-saves-girl trope is turned firmly on its ear to excellent effect. Kate and Christopher are concrete and real, and both the relationship and the personal growth (especially Kate's, since this is her bildungsroman) are totally believable. So: head and shoulders above many books in the same vein.

Folk belief and religion are treated super well here. The idea of elves or fairies a
...more
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  • Enchantress from the Stars
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  • The Old Tobacco Shop: A True Account Of What Befell A Little Boy In Search Of Adventure
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Born in Washington D.C. on May 1, 1917, Pope later graduated from Bryn Mawr College and then earned her Ph. D. in English literature from John Hopkins University. Next she began teaching at Mills College in Oakland, California and remained there for many years. Beginning as an assistant professor and moving up to hold the position of professor and chairman of the department, Pope excelled as an in ...more
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“I never thought of it like that. I always thought of you as a part of me, like my own eyes or my own hands. You don't go around thinking 'I love my eyes, I love my hands', do you? But think what it would be like to live without your eyes or your hands. To be mad, or to be blind. I can't talk about it. It's how I feel.” 68 likes
“I've never thought of you like that,' said Christopher. 'How could I? If you were any other woman, I could tell you I loved you, easily enough, but not you-- because you've always seemed to me like a part of myself, and it would be like saying I loved my own eyes or my own mind. But have you ever thought of what it would be to have to live without your mind or your eyes, Kate? To be mad? Or blind?” 39 likes
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