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The Castle Behind Thorns

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,608 ratings  ·  294 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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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,608 ratings  ·  294 reviews

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Sherwood Smith
Jul 14, 2015 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 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 sl
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 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
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
Nov 09, 2013 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.
Oct 08, 2013 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 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
Small Review
I wish there were more Merrie Haskell books to read! Full review to come.
Sep 02, 2013 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.
Lara Mi

“Some things don't need to be mended. Some things are not meant to be mended.”

The Castle Behind Thorns is a beautiful, but perhaps also a little unusual, take on Sleeping Beauty. And while I definitely enjoyed it, I can't help but feel that this is a book that will only appeal to a few people.

Sand finds himself waking in the sundered castle with no memory of how he got there. He has known the castle for as long as he can remember, but all he ever learns is that it was destroyed during an eart
Jun 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such an interesting and unique fantasy! I liked the characters and their banter, plus the French setting seemed to match the story well. I think the plot got a little jumbled towards the end, but, overall, I would definitely recommend this novel.
Apr 01, 2014 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’
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
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Meet Sand. He wakes up all alone in fireplace of a broken castle surrounded by thorns, with no idea of how he got there. He's seen the castle, of course, but nobody really notices or cares about it. But now he finds himself trapped. The castle is frozen in time, it seems. Everything is broken in half, but no rot or decay has touched anything... so the good news is, he won't starve anytime soon. Though he does fear that he will eventually grow tired of turnips. A blacksmith-in-training (not an of ...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
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.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read Marie Haskell's The Handbook for Dragon Slayers several years ago when it first came out and loved it. In fact, it became one of my favorite books that I read that year. It made me even more excited to read her newer book, The Castle Behind Thorns. I got a copy before it was released, but just now found the time to read it. I wish I hadn't waited so long. Once again, the author did not disappoint me. I greatly enjoyed the book.

I will admit, I found the beginning of the book very slow-pace
Slow moving, but entertaining nonetheless. 83
4.5. A bit of a slow start, but I liked this, as I always do when it comes to Haskell's works.
Tangeree Gillette
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A truly great fantasy story! So glad it caught my eye at the library.
Jul 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Mystery meets magic in this middle grade novel. At times the pace of the story creeps along, others give a bit of action. Focusing on two young people, Sand & Perotte, the books theme of items being mended extends to the healing of people too. A fun summer read. ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I like the concept but for me, it wasn’t completely satisfying how things are explained.

I do like the characters and how things progress slowly but intensely.
Miranda Paris
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Finally! A different kind of fairy tale ~ I'm enchanted!
Oct 10, 2013 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
Nicole Wang
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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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 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
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
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 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
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