My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It’s 1867, and Verity Boone is leaving her home in busy Worcester, MA to go live with her father in rural Catawissa, Penn., where she will marry Nate, a neighboring farmer who won her heart through his letters and gifts of poetry. But when she arrives in the country, she doesn’t find the romantic reunion she was expecting. Her father is distant and busy with farm work, and Nate is nothing like his letters (which were were written based on suggestions from his sisters) and more interested in her father’s farm than her. Worse, she finds herself the subject of town gossip and rumors. Some of it is based on jealousy – Nate was one of the few eligible men left after the Civil War – but other nasty rumors reach her about her late mother and her family’s mysterious past.
Then, as Verity walks through a local churchyard, she discovers the graves of her mother and aunt, buried outside the cemetery walls, and enclosed in iron cages. As Verity tries to discover the stories of her mother’s life and death, and find the reason for the cages, she unearths more than she expected, with tales of witchcraft, strange deaths, and stolen Army gold. She also finds herself in a love triangle as she tries to deal with her complicated feelings about the semi-arranged marriage that she agreed to.
Salerni creates honest, relatable characters, especially Verity, a strong-willed girl with progressive ideas, who is not afraid to stand up for herself and for what she believes. And just as in life, most of the characters are more complicated than they appear at first, including Nate. A spooky, don’t-put-it-down thriller.