Tuesday, October 20, 2015

CASTLE OF SIGHS by Jennifer Murgia

Rating: B
Release Date: 10/27/15
Some secrets cannot be kept—in life or in death. 
Months have passed since Rune has heard a single whisper from her long-dead mother, the great witch of Bavaria. But the absence of one evil has only made room for another. 
After rightfully inheriting her ancestral home, Pyrmont Castle, Rune settles into a quiet life taking care of two orphans left in the wake of the terrible witch hunt that claimed dozens of lives in the nearby village. As the days grow colder, the castle’s secrets beckon and Rune finds herself roaming where no one has set foot in a long time. In the bowels of the fortress is a locked room full of memories that hang like cobwebs—shelves stacked with jars, strange specimens, putrid liquids, and scrolls of spells. Rune is undeniably drawn to what she finds there, and she begins to dabble in the possibilities of magic, hoping to find a cure for the strangeness overwhelming the castle. 
As secrets unspool, the delicate thread of Rune’s world is threatened when she realizes the key may lie in the dark forest she once called home and the boy she thought she knew.

My thoughts on the book:
Castle of Sighs was a creepy follow-up to Forest of Whispers. Where the first novel fell a bit flat for me, this book did not. Murgia's writing improved a lot, and the characters grew by leaps and bounds in this installment. The plot was fast-paced and intriguing, and even though I was thoroughly creeped out at several points, I couldn't put this book down. This is the perfect Halloween read.

Rune wasn't the best character, in my opinion, in the first novel, but she really stood out in this book. She had grown up a lot, and she was determined to do what was right for herself, her family, and those she cared about. She was brave, though sometimes reckless, and she learned a lot about herself and her craft this time around. We also got to learn more about Laurentz in this book! He wasn't around as much as I would have liked for him to have been, but we learned a lot of stuff about him, including a secret that he didn't even fully know about himself. He was gallant and responsible, as usual, but he really opened his mind in this book. By the end of the story, I really loved and supported both Rune and Laurentz.

The plot was really creepy, and at times flat out horrifying. Murgia had a lot of my fears in this novel, and I'll admit that I had to have my cat, Joey, protect me one night while I slept after I'd stayed up late reading. Yea, I'm a pansy like that, haha. Murgia's descriptions came alive in this book. I was fully immersed in the historical world she painted, and I felt as if I were there with Rune. The switching from Rune's perspective to Matilde's perspective in the middle of the story really made everything seem more realistic. The author did a fantastic job of showing instead of telling. The writing itself was well-done, and the story unfolded at a fast pace. The ending tied everything up, and the big reveals and action sequences kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn't see a lot of the revelations coming, and I enjoyed that.

Overall, I'd recommend this book and series to anyone who wants to read a good historical fantasy story with a super creepy twist. This novel isn't light and cheery. As I said, it's perfect for the Halloween season. Give these books a try. You won't be sorry.

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