Author: Sharon Shinn
Coriel Halsing has been visiting Castle Auburn during the summer every year for most of her life – and throughout her childhood, it has formed happy memories and excitement to carry her through the quiet life in her small home the rest of the year. But as Coriel reaches marriageable age her own maturing understanding changes everything around her at the castle, though now she knows it has always been this way.
Summers at Castle Auburn is set in classic medieval fantasy setting. Don’t worry, there are no dragons or elves; but much of the tale takes place in the castle and court, and the basic structure is very familiar.
I loved this coming-of-age tale, and was highly impressed by the author’s light hand. Coriel starts out a giddy teenager, swooning over the handsome prince, but even then she is bold, adventurous, and kind. It was these traits that kept me reading even when I was rolling my eyes over her infatuations, and I was rewarded. Once past the first quarter of the story Coriel is coming into her true understanding, and the plot is far more interesting. The half-noble daughter must weave her way through court intrigue, stand up for her own freedom, and finally dare to step away from the crowd and declare that some things are wrong no matter how many people do them.
I saw most of the plot twists coming from a mile away, but perhaps this was on purpose; it certainly raised the tension at certain parts. And despite this element of predictability I loved Summers at Castle Auburn, for the most part because of the characters. One sentence summary: In this medieval coming-of-age tale, a half-noble healer must leave the beaten path and stand up for the right, come what may.
Sexual content: Character says that a child’s mother seduced the father with a love-potion and cared nothing for man or child. A maid is worried about a girl’s reputation because she went on a camping trip with five men and no chaperone. Some flirting, partly because of court machinations. One character helps a girl give birth and realizes the baby is the illegitimate child of the prince. Some light kissing.
Language: 6 d***
Violence: Girl falls from a galloping horse and hits her head – is somewhat dazed by the fall. It is a world-building fact that Aliora are captured and enslaved, and prevented from escaping with shackles of metal that pains them. One freshly captured young girl is seen. Second hand account of a baby and mother being found dead after jumping off a roof – suspicion that it may have been murder. Man hurts fey woman with gold. One man shoves another down and punches him. Another breaks a bottle of wine over man’s head. Character sees the body of a fugitive who was captured, tied behind a horse, and dragged for over a mile before a man cut his throat.