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The Perilous Gard

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  4,915 ratings  ·  419 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.
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published October 29th 2001 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1974)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cara
Dec 31, 2013 Cara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Chachic
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
Valerie
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
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
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
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
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
Kami
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
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
Hannah
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.
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
This taut, emotionally compelling but unsentimental look at fae I think has influenced a great many writers working in fantasy today.
Aranthe
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary-Beth
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
Lighthearted
I loved this book! You’ll find it in the Children’s section of the library but don’t let that deter you if the 5th grade is just a distant memory. "The Perilous Gard" is based on the Scottish legend of Tam Lin—it is a rich work of historical fiction with touches of romance and fantasy. In the story, Kate Sutton is exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote castle—when she arrives, she learns of a recent tragedy that haunts the household, Christopher Heron most of all. Ever cool and practical, Kate l...more
Cristin
Elizabeth Marie Pope has certainly mastered historical fiction. That Pope is capable of weaving fantasy and folklore into the mix is absolutely delightful!

This is a great read for any age, although I'm certain my love for it would have been magnified tenfold were I a bit younger when I first read it. Still, I was transfixed by the story-and greatly appreciate the way Katherine Sutton (the hero of our story) is portrayed.

If you're like me, you'll enjoy the banter that Christopher Heron (our othe...more
Jenna
Jun 16, 2008 Jenna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teens who are usually scared of historical fiction. It will make your fear go away!
Recommended to Jenna by: mom
A wonderful retelling of a folk tale that I hadn't even known until I read this book. Kate, the protagonist, is a little bit unlikeable to me. Maybe it's because she's so practical, down-to-earth, clever, etc... I tend to like characters that have more of an inclination to silly romantic notions (and by romantic I don't mean love-struck or anything). But Christopher, her companion, friend, and crush, is quite likeable, for all his fierce pride and failing dignity. The end of the story is obvious...more
Molly Ringle
I only just heard about this book in the past few months, though it's been around since the 1970s and appears to have been a childhood favorite of a lot of people. It does seem like the kind of book that, had I discovered it in childhood or my teens, I would have adored for life. As it is, I've now read quite a few similar things, so I sort of know the drill and didn't find my emotions caught quite as much as they would otherwise have been; but still, this is a very good sinister-fairy story. Lo...more
Rebecca
I've been on a bit of a re-reading kick lately. This particular book I picked up at a book fair in elementary school, loved beyond reason, and have held onto ever since. I'll admit I might not be particularly objective about it. But since it won a Newbury, I don't think my love is particularly unjustified.

Kate was so very much my own image of myself at that point--smart and curious and reasonably pretty, but also incredibly clumsy and bad at dressing or presenting herself. She's not particularly...more
Avrelia
The Perilous Gard I loved without reservations, and I cannot find anything there that I wish would be different. It is not the best book ever, but as it is, it is just right.

The language flows smoothly, occasionally reminding us that it happens in XVI century, and not in XX with a certain turn of phrase, or a word naming something we don’t have a use for, but never descending into ElizabethanSpeak. I can – with difficulty –read actual Elizabethan prose, but have no patience for nowadays remakes...more
Sally
In my ongoing quest to create my own version of the best fifty books I've chosen to put up fifty-two posts at my blog - http://www.spinningpearls.blogspot.com, each showcasing one book I think stands tall among its peers and why I like it. I won't be adding any books in the spirit of "you should read/like/buy this book". It's all about the book, how we met and why I love it.

Here is the post for the first of these books.

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. 1971.

I was foraging in the second-...more
Christie
First sentence: "She won't be angry with me," said Alicia.

Kate Sutton, maid in waiting to the Lady Elizabeth, has gotten into trouble with the English queen, Mary I, because of a letter her sister, Alicia wrote complaining of the conditions of Elizabeth's household. Kate, being held as exerting a bad influence on Alicia, has been exiled to the Perilous Gard in the north of England until such time as the Queen feels she has learned her lesson. Kate finds that everything at the castle is not as i...more
Marie
If there is such a genre as historical fairy tale, that's what I would call this. I read it to preview it for my 9-year old daughter. I plan to hold off giving it to her for a few years because some elements of the fairy lore are quite dark (a character narrowly escapes becoming a human sacrifice), and because I think she'll get more out of the romance when she's a teenager. I like the fact that the plot mirrors the Ballad of Tam Lin and the main character knows it, but she becomes the heroine o...more
Jill
Heard an interview on NPR the other day with a world famous cave explorer, and Pope's description of "The Weight" the underground-bound fairy folk deal with seems to fit his description of feeling spelunkers have on occasion that they're never going to make it back out alive. Nothing to do with the plot of the book, but it speaks to the author's ability to make the reader feel that they're actually underground with the main character. I really enjoyed this novel.

"Down in the enclosed world of th...more
Punk
YA Fantasy. Katherine Sutton is one of Lady Elizabeth's maids, until Kate's sister displeases Queen Mary, and Kate gets sent into exile at the mysterious castle known as the Perilous Gard.

An excellent retelling of Tam Lin. Set in 1558, deep in the English countryside and rife with fairy folk, The Perilous Gard is clearly influenced by the ballad, but Pope adds so many original details that the story doesn't feel at all predictable or rote.

Kate is a wonderful protagonist: Tough, questioning, symp...more
Jenny
This was my favorite book growing up. It is about a young woman who has to rescue her guardian from being kidnapped by fairies. Sort of like an Elizabethan retelling of the Tam Lin legend without the pregnancy part. I got a free copy at the fifth anniversary party of Book Zoo, a local used book store, which made me glad I went especially since I almost skipped out on going. It was just sort of staring up at me from the free book cart and I snagged it in a hot minute. As for those of you who didn...more
Eowyn Dean
Fantastic yet believable, beautiful, and chilling. Elizabeth Marie Pope is one of a very few authors who can write of the Fair Folk without seeming to rely on Tolkien's elves, or else making them a miniature laughingstock. Her Fairy Folk are wise after a fashion, and have a dignity which makes their eventual fate rather heartbreaking, though it could not be otherwise. It is this which makes the book great: an ending which is irrevocably tragic, but also uplifting. Do all the greatest stories sha...more
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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
More about Elizabeth Marie Pope...
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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.” 58 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?” 32 likes
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