Most of the reviewers have described the story so I will move onto the book itself. Elizabeth Marie Pope was an english literature professor who apparently wrote both Perilous Gard and the Sherwood Ring to demonstrate different writing styles to her students. She is such a brilliant author that I wish she had written dozens of books! This book is so chilling and sinister in its plot implications, so magnificent is the craftsmanship and the characters are so beautifully fleshed out with each nuance delicately explored that one is utterly enraptured. The Fairy Queen is one of the most terrifying personalities and the twists in the plot are such that one is genuinely unsure of what will happen next. To sustain the reader’s tension at fever pitch is shattering to one’s nerves :) but a fabulous demonstration of how gifted Pope was. The book is deliciously satisfying and fulfils one’s expectations since it keeps delivering right until the very last page. A must read for anyone who adores reading. Both her books will become among your most prized books
I have only one complaint about this very accomplished fantasy, and that's that the author wrote only two YA fantasies. The Perilous Gard is a wonderful concoction of myth and folklore, set in Tudor England and holding definite echoes of Tam Lin. The setting and period are wonderfully realised, with the characters acting in character and in period. This book is a huge favourite of mine, as are some other Tam Lin inspired titles - Pamela Dean's "Tam Lin" and Diana Wynne Jones' "Fire and Hemlock".
I picked up this book because people said it is a wonderful historical-fantasy YA story. They are SO right about that. The book does contain some "magic" if you want to call it that, though it is not the "invisible rabbit" thing (just like the way I like it :)), and a good romance (which made me LOVE the book :D) I simply adored the characters, specially Kate for the way her mind worked. And because of that, I really enjoyed the last 3 chapters very much.
The Perilous Gard is an absolutely fantastic Tam Lin type of story. The Elizabethan setting is done superbly and Elizabeth Marie Pope manages to make everything, even the Fey, seem realistic. Kate and Christopher are captivating main characters and their relationship is both complex and intriguing. The whole novel is filled with suspense, a superbly crafted and paced plot, subtlety, and clever allusions to many old ballads. Excellently done! Some other excellent Tam Lin retellings include Diana Wynne Jones' Fire and Hemlock, and Patricia A. McKillip's Winter Rose.
This book is remarkable in several ways -- the main characteris a young woman who is very accessible -- she is uncertain, brave, humorous. Exiled from court, she is sent to a rural castle where she also does not fit it. Her individuality and courage gets her through a harrowing adventure with the dark, but believeable fairy-folk. I can't think of a better book for girls, and it is so well written, I'd even recommend it for adults.
The Perilous Gard is a spell-binding book, beautifully written (especially the dialogue). My daughter and I both love it. However, it pales beside the author's out-of-print The Sherwood Ring, which is one of the finest young-adult books ever. I have read that a hundred times; it was the first book I ever special-ordered (in 1970, when I went away to college). It deserves to be reprinted!
Thoroughly under-rated and under-acknowledged book. A fab twist on the Tam Lin story with a super heroine, a sweet romance and suitably dark and scary fae. Don't let the "children's book" classification scare you off - this is a fab read no matter what your age.