- Paperback: 355 pages
- Publisher: Ace Books (1 April 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0441008038
- ISBN-13: 978-0441008032
- Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2 x 22.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,522,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Summers at Castle Auburn Paperback – 1 Apr 2001
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An interesting modern day fairytale that deals with darker themes. The protagonist is built up as a guileless, ordinary girl who gets to visit the royal palace of a colourful fairytale kingdom each summer. There is some light romance, but also some chilling topics. The ruling class of the kingdom make the habit of enslaving an innocent fairy folk - the Aliora. The theme of slavery as being an unacceptable evil whatever one's social conditioning is well handled.
However, an unusual aspect to the backstory is that the protagonist was conceived when her mother - a country witch, raped her father (a noble) using magic. The protagonist's grandmother tells the other characters about this early on, but even despite this, on page 190 the protagonist not only blames and vilifies her father for being the victim, but even goes so far as to compare him to the villain of the latter half of the story...! The other characters, including her father's legitimate daughter, agree with her. Victim blaming is a dark topic just like slavery and if it is brought up it, absolutely has to be handled well. But the protagonist is never called out on it and indeed, her coldness and contempt for her father and by implication, male rape victims as a whole is treated as part of her enlightenment as she is growing up and starting to see what is wrong with the kingdom.
Whenever I read a Sharon Shinn book, I tend to read with the expectation that I am going to enjoy myself. Therefore, I had no doubts about Summers at Castle Auburn - although I must confess that the book description was somewhat poor and didn't make the story sound terribly interesting.
It's difficult to summarize the plot of Summers at Castle Auburn, as to say much would be to spoil things. At its heart, it's a sort of romance meets coming of age story. The main character, Corie, tells of her summer visits to castle auburn. These initially are described as pleasant and enjoyable visits, but as Corie gets older and begins to lose her childhood innocence, she begins to see things and people in a different light.
Although there's not an incredible amount of conflict or action (though there is some towards the last 100 pages), I enjoyed reading Summers at Castle Auburn a great deal. The characters are very believable and it soon became easy to care about what happened to them.
There were some nice twists at the end, some of which made me really admire Sharon Shinn's storytelling. Some reviewers have commented that the aliora were not very well realized, and although this is true, I think their story is something that needs to be explored in another book.
If you're a fan of Sharon Shinn's other work, you'll certainly enjoy this one. I definitely recommend it.
This story made me feel all warm-hearted, believing in the one true love each person is destined to find. It is definitely a good book to read when you want to relax, kick-back and dive into another world; to escape from cold reality...
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