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The Perilous Gard

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  8,126 ratings  ·  728 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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Fiona Mccrea It's intentionally left to insist that you keep wondering and not be able to come down absolutely on one side or the other. Perhaps the gray creature …moreIt's intentionally left to insist that you keep wondering and not be able to come down absolutely on one side or the other. Perhaps the gray creature could be explained by something we (or our time-bound characters) don't have the knowledge to understand.(less)

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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Of the several Tam Lin retellings I've read, the classic YA novel The Perilous Gard is a standout. I frequently sing the praises of Pamela Dean's version of Tam Lin, while knowing full well that that novel will only appeal to a limited subset of the fraction of readers who like fairy tale novelizations. Well, The Perilous Gard is for readers who prefer a more traditional retelling of Tam Lin. (It also, by the way, leaves out the racier aspects of the Tam Lin story - the woman who saves her lover ...more
Sarah
Books like The Perilous Gard remind me of why I love to read.

Our story begins in England, summer of 1558, in an unpleasant castle where Princess Elizabeth Tudor keeps a small retinue, ever watched and harassed by her angry half-sister, Queen Mary. I knew right away that I was in good hands because Elizabeth Marie Pope conveys deftly that Mary bullied Elizabeth without making the older royal out to be a one-dimensional monster.

One of Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting, a stupid beauty named Alicia Su
...more
Cara
Jan 07, 2009 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
Tatiana
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: Holly Black
2.5 stars

Read it on Holly Black's recommendation, and I can totally see why such a book would influence her own work, especially if she had read it as a young girl, a few decades ago. It has a strong heroine, an adventure, and a dash of romance. I would have loved it 20 years ago too, I think.

My present day self though, with a few fairy novel under my belt and not exactly enamored with the writing style of 70s, found only a few things compelling. The fairy lore is by far the best aspect of this
...more
Mariel
Aug 08, 2009 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
Jeanette
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delightful read. This was also rather unique. It fit the Tudor (1558)Hatfield and Norfolk placements to a superb degree. The combination of genre was also, IMHO, highly unusual. Not completely historical fiction, not truly a novel of manners and guile, not cored in romance, crossing cultural boundaries with the "other" economic class. And skirting the magical and characters of myth? Or clan, as in a much older society form?

Regardless, the writing and thought patterns of our lady protagonist wer
...more
Jacob Proffitt
Mar 10, 2015 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
Melissa McShane
8/6/19: Stayed up way too late to finish listening to the audiobook. Everything I said below still applies.

9/29/15: 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 w
...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
Nicky
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
Marquise
An excellent story reworking the legend of Tam Lin, that is my first read of a retelling for this story that's a Beauty and the Beast type of tale from the British Isles.

I'd already read Pope's only other book and loved it, so I expected this to be good despite my doubts over the period setting (Tudor England). It didn't disappoint, but it does have less of the couple chemistry, the humour and the charm of "The Sherwood Ring" to me. I did like the impressive balance of historical realism and ma
...more
Sherwood Smith
This taut, emotionally compelling but unsentimental look at fae I think has influenced a great many writers working in fantasy today.
Tandie
Wonderful! A sort of retelling of Tam Lin, without the pregnant lover part. As you very well know, TWUE WUV is a powerful weapon when dealing with fairy folk. They may not be able to speak lies, but there's almost always a trick to be played.

Clever Kate has been exiled to The Perilous Gard, a remote fortress, merely for not being as charming as her sister. She meets her guardian's brother, Christopher, and forms an immediate dislike. Wary of one another, they begin a reluctant friendship - which
...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
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
lucky little cat
Four stars for the high level of historical detail, minus a star for the inevitable romance plotline that made the book marketable.
Chachic
Feb 15, 2010 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
Abigail Bok
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The year is 1558; two daughters of a prosperous merchant are ladies-in-waiting to the young Princess Elizabeth. Queen Mary becomes angry with the elder sister, Katherine Sutton, and banishes her to a remote northern castle, known as Elvenwood or, more traditionally, the Perilous Gard. There she leads a dull and lonely life. But Kate is a bright and curious young woman, and soon she is busy ferreting out mystery. From the dubious smoothness of the castle's manager, Master John, and the suspicious ...more
Kami
Jul 14, 2007 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
Valerie
Jan 07, 2009 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
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
Stephanie
May 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I try to reread this every year around Halloween and it is so worth it every time.
Andree
Not talking about this one right now. For secret reasons.

2015 Reading Challenge - A Book with Magic
Elizabeth
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
More like a 2.5 for me. I was tempted to give this three stars, and then realized I'd read the very ending of the story wrong, so I'm pretty comfortable with the two-star rating.

The thing is, I did end up warming up to this novel, but there is so much of it that wasn't as well executed as it could have been. I can't really say that I liked it, but it does get pretty compelling (view spoiler), that I couldn't put it down (amusingly
...more
Hayden
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh my word. This was so good.
Josiah
Apr 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Whatever else there is to say about this book, Elizabeth Marie Pope's writing is phenomenal. Her vibrant, urgent prose takes so many paths and sub-paths through the vast subterranean richness of the English language that it's nigh upon impossible not to become lost in the endless creativity of the writing as it unfolds, going on and on with seemingly no limit as to what the author can conjure up next. Elizabeth Marie Pope has an extraordinary mind for the formation of deep, flawlessly rendered f ...more
Agnė
The Perilous Gard is a captivating young adult retelling of the ballad of Tam Lin, which blurs the line between history and mythology. Love the story, the writing, the characters, the ending, the audiobook narration… A very enjoyable reading/listening experience :)
Res
Mar 12, 2009 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
Hannah
Nov 03, 2012 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.
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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

Articles featuring this book

Holly Black is one of the YA world's premier experts on faeries (she also has the pointy ears to prove it). Her enchanting books include The...
186 likes · 34 comments
“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.” 82 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?” 51 likes
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