The Perilous Gard

Okay, so having written a review for Ironskin, I was reminded of one of the greatest books I’ve ever read, a true OMG Book: The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope.

Kate Sutton and her younger sister are banished by Queen Mary because of her sister’s silly but traitorous letter. They accompany the young Princess Elizabeth to a remote castle called the Perilous Gard, where the younger brother of the lord is a aloof and brooding Christopher Heron.

There are secrets at the castle that Kate must discover, and they center on the mysterious People of the Hill who may have had something to do with the disappearance of Christopher’s little niece.

What’s so great about this book that I still love and remember it after so many years?

1. Kate is one of my favorite heroines over. She’s smart and strong and will do what needs to be done for those she loves.

2. Christopher has just the right amount of moodiness and likability. He and Kate share some great exchanges.

3. The atmosphere is eerie and beautiful at the same time, and the faerie People of the Hill are sinister but also sympathetic.

4. The writing is perfect. (“Someone was laughing. Startled, she looked up, and saw a woman at the top of the bank, among the branches. She was standing so still, her long dark hair and shadowy green cloak melting in and out of the shifting leaves, that for an instant Kate thought she was not real, only a trick of light and color like her first illusion about the ivy-covered stump. But he was real. Kate could see the hard delicate bones of her face, and the glint of a gold bracelet on the wrist under the edge of the cloak. She was gazing down at the scene on the road beneath her with an amused, faintly disdainful laugh still lingering about her mouth, as if she were watching a pack of half-grown puppies all yelping together in a kennel-run.”) WOW. Talk about an amazing description.

5. It’s based on the Tam Lin ballad, one of my faves. (This was actually my first introduction to the ballad, and the words are included in the story, too.)

6. It won the Newbery Honor. So yeah, you don’t have to just take my word for it that it’s a really good book!

7. The book has some intriguing illustrations by Richard Cuffari too. Check this out:

See where her eyes are at? Love the subtlety 🙂


My greatest sorrow is that the author, Elizabeth Marie Pope, only wrote TWO books 😦

(A review of her second book The Sherwood Ring coming soon!)


One thought on “The Perilous Gard

  1. That was a beautiful excerpt. I forgot what it was like to read beautifully written prose like that.
    The story is so luring with it’s innocence, suspense, romance and sacrifice.
    I really need to reread this again. Thank God there’s a copy sitting in my room! ;D
    (btw, can’t wait for you to post about HMC?!!)

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