SALERNI, Dianne K. The Caged Graves. 336p. Clarion. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-86853-0. LC 2012021008.
Gr 8 Up–It’s 1867, and 17-year-old Verity Boone is moving back to Pennsylvania after spending 15 years with relatives in Massachusetts. She’s anxious to reunite with her father and meet her fiancé, Nathaniel McClure, for the first time. Unfortunately, life in rural Catawissa isn’t what Verity expected and her homecoming is beginning to feel anything but welcoming. Her father is distant, and Verity and Nathaniel’s first meeting is awkward and uncomfortable. He doesn’t come across as romantic in person as he did in his letters. To make matters worse, he takes Verity on an impromptu walk that leads her to an unsettling sight–her mother’s grave enclosed in an ugly, iron cage. Disturbed and heartbroken, Verity is determined to find out why it was placed in unconsecrated grounds. Unfortunately, her father, Nathaniel, and the townsfolk (while quick to gossip about the Boones) aren’t talking. The only way to unravel the mystery is to read her mother’s diaries, which exposes Verity to unsettling truths about Catawissa and her family. Verity is a likable, feisty, and outspoken heroine. She often infuriates Nathaniel, whom she quickly discovers is worthy of her attentions. Salerni is a masterful storyteller who uses eloquent prose to craft a suspenseful historical mystery that is absolutely impossible to put down.–Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJ