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Summers at Castle Auburn

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Author: Sharon Shinn

Published: April 28th 2002 by Ace (first published April 1st 2001)

Format: Mass Market Paperback , 342 pages

Isbn: 9780441009282

Language: English


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As a child, Coriel Halsing spent many glorious summers at Castle Auburn with her half-sister—and fell in love with a handsome prince who could never be hers. But now that she is a young woman, she begins to see the dark side of this magical place...

30 review for Summers at Castle Auburn

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    $1.99 Kindle sale, June 3, 2020 I really loved this YA fantasy! Review posted on Fantasy Literature: Summers at Castle Auburn was my first exposure to Sharon Shinn's fantasies, and it was pretty much insta-love for me (I like to think that Shinn returns my affections in a distant and anonymous fan-appreciation kind of way). It instantly set me off on a search for more of her books. Corie is the teenaged illegitimate daughter of a nobleman who died before the story begins, but the royal family is s $1.99 Kindle sale, June 3, 2020 I really loved this YA fantasy! Review posted on Fantasy Literature: Summers at Castle Auburn was my first exposure to Sharon Shinn's fantasies, and it was pretty much insta-love for me (I like to think that Shinn returns my affections in a distant and anonymous fan-appreciation kind of way). It instantly set me off on a search for more of her books. Corie is the teenaged illegitimate daughter of a nobleman who died before the story begins, but the royal family is still keeping close tabs on her. Most of the time she lives with her grandmother in a remote village, learning medicinal herbs and a bit of witchery from her. But her summers are spent with the royal family in Castle Auburn. We follow Corie over the next several years as she hangs out with her half-sister Elisandra; Bryan, the stunningly good-looking ― and knows it ― prince and heir to the throne (and Elisandra’s intended husband, in that royal arranged marriage kind of way, which doesn’t stop Corie and a hundred other girls in the kingdom from getting wild crushes on him); and Kent, a serious young man who is the regent’s son. For a long time, Corie is totally oblivious to the fact that she, like Elisandra, is being groomed to make a strategic alliance (i.e., marriage) to benefit those in charge of the kingdom. The plot is thickened by a subplot involving the Aliora, a lovely, faerie-like people who are hunted down and kidnapped by the humans in this kingdom, thereafter spending the rest of their lives as expensive slaves to the nobility. One of the most dedicated and effective hunters of the Aliora is Corie’s uncle Jaxon, a man she otherwise admires. They make very kind and attentive servants, and Corie loves them, but it takes her several years to realize how miserable they are in their slavery, and more to figure out whether there’s something she can do about it. Summers at Castle Auburn is a lovely coming-of-age novel; it’s among my all-time favorites in the YA fantasy genre. Though it’s a young adult novel, it was interesting and complex enough for me to thoroughly enjoy. The romance in it is quiet and subtle, but appealing. There are some unexpected plot twists that nevertheless fit really well with the storyline. Kudos to Sharon Shinn for making (view spoiler)[ the handsome, sought-after prince slowly reveal himself as a despicable character (hide spoiler)] and Corie’s beautiful half-sister Elisandra turn out to have some unexpected and startling depth. I recommend it highly for readers who love books like Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl. My other favorite Sharon Shinn book, BTW: Troubled Waters.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melindam

    3.33 stars If I had read this book in my teens, I would have given it 5 starts, no doubt. But two decades later, I found the story a bit flat, mainly due to the fact that the only POV is that of the heroine, Coriel. This makes the scope of the story too narrow considering the number of storylines (Coriel’s, her sister Elidandra’s, her uncle Jaxon’s, the crown prince’s, the Aliora’s, etc). It does not help that Corrie is barely 14 at the beginning & 18 at the end: her world is pretty limited & occ 3.33 stars If I had read this book in my teens, I would have given it 5 starts, no doubt. But two decades later, I found the story a bit flat, mainly due to the fact that the only POV is that of the heroine, Coriel. This makes the scope of the story too narrow considering the number of storylines (Coriel’s, her sister Elidandra’s, her uncle Jaxon’s, the crown prince’s, the Aliora’s, etc). It does not help that Corrie is barely 14 at the beginning & 18 at the end: her world is pretty limited & occasionally annoyingly shallow. She was OK, but not too likeable & her sister Elisandra definitely stole the show from her at the end spectacularly (WOW, she is one cool customer & no mistake). It would have been nice to learn a bit more about the Aliora race & their world; and the POVs of Elisandra & Jaxon would have given more depth & layers to the book. Concerning the love interests: it was fairly clear from one third of the book who will end up with whom. It distrubed me a bit how blind the heroine kept herself to the very end & then WHAM she knew right away that she had been in love with the guy all along and married him almost on the spot & the book ends suddenly. It would have been more credible if she had been given some time to come to term with her feelings & spend some time with the guy developing their until then non-existent relationship a bit before getting married & living happily ever after. Despite the negative points raised above, I found this a lovely book, an intriguing & an easy read. One of it stongest points is the political intrigue, as usual in most Sharon Shinn books – she is very good at creating this kind of tension: who is siding with whom & who is plotting against whom.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steph Su

    There’s a special shelf in my mental/virtual bookcase. Until now, only Crown Duel resided there, a little proud in being the only one to make it onto that shelf but getting kind of lonely. AND THEN! ANOTHER BOOK TEARS THROUGH THE LONELINESS AND SPREADS ITS SUNSHINE ON THE SHELF/MY LIFE! It’s SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN! It, too, contains that rare phenomenon where the characters and the romance make me squeak with glee while not skimping on the fantasy world-building! HURRAH! I did think about writing There’s a special shelf in my mental/virtual bookcase. Until now, only Crown Duel resided there, a little proud in being the only one to make it onto that shelf but getting kind of lonely. AND THEN! ANOTHER BOOK TEARS THROUGH THE LONELINESS AND SPREADS ITS SUNSHINE ON THE SHELF/MY LIFE! It’s SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN! It, too, contains that rare phenomenon where the characters and the romance make me squeak with glee while not skimping on the fantasy world-building! HURRAH! I did think about writing a more official review but I think I about covered all I have to say about this book. Squeeeeee.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gillian Berry

    *dreamy, contented sigh* Clearly, back in the day, the magical elves who wrote blurb-y synopsis type things were a lot more spare and didn't know to include all the delicious bits that will and should entice you to read the sumptuous, magical Summers at Castle Auburn. Things like: a bright, sparkling, incorrigible heroine who spreads life wherever she goes (oh, and is a healer/herb witch). Things like: a fantastic, steadfast, and sweet sisterly relationship. Things like: princes and plots and cour *dreamy, contented sigh* Clearly, back in the day, the magical elves who wrote blurb-y synopsis type things were a lot more spare and didn't know to include all the delicious bits that will and should entice you to read the sumptuous, magical Summers at Castle Auburn. Things like: a bright, sparkling, incorrigible heroine who spreads life wherever she goes (oh, and is a healer/herb witch). Things like: a fantastic, steadfast, and sweet sisterly relationship. Things like: princes and plots and courtly intrigue. Things like: a slow burn ship of adorableness and dreams. Things like: an engaging and full fantasy novel that's really, actually all about growing up, learning the truth, and becoming your own person. Things like: this book made me happy on a soul-deep level. If you can't tell, I LOVE. LOVE. LOVE THIS BOOK. Seriously. I want to stand on rooftops (really short rooftops, because I'm petrified of heights) and bellow at all and sundry to pick up this delight of a novel. Why have I spent so much of my life notreading Sharon Shinn when I could have been reading Sharon Shinn? Bad Gillian. Very bad. A billion thanks to Jamie for her review, because without it, I never would have decided to pick up a paperback of this book in the first place. SO. Here are the reasons you--yes, YOU--should read Summers at Castle Auburn: 1. A bright, sparkling, incorrigible heroine who spreads life wherever she goes (oh, and is a healer/herb witch) Corie--full name Coriel Halsing--is the bastard daughter of a nobleman. She spends most of her year in a small village, apprenticing to her healer grandmother, but every summer, she goes to live with her uncle and half-sister at Castle Auburn. To young Corie, there is no place more magical. At Castle Auburn, she goes riding with princes (she has a ferocious crush on Prince Bryan, future king), she hangs out with her beloved, beautiful sister, Elisandra, and she EVEN gets to go hunting for aliora with her hero, her Uncle Jaxon. I loved Corie from page one. She's very naive, and she's definitely blinded by her innocence and the degree of her love for Castle Auburn and all its inhabitants, but she's such a breath of fresh air--not just to the reader, but to everyone who encounters her on the page. She's a bit wild and charming and sassy and very stubborn, and I adored her endlessly. Her voice bounces right off the page. MAGICAL TIMES IN THE MAGICAL FOREST 2. A fantastic, steadfast, and sweet sisterly relationship. ELISANDRA AND CORIE ARE SO SWEET. Oh my god. It's not the most honest relationship--as I'll mention later, this book is all about unraveling truths and pulling back curtains--but Elisandra and Corie love each other more than anything. At first I was so afraid that, as the legitimate child, the Halsing heir, betrothed to Prince Bryan, Elisandra would hate Coriel, the illegitimate interloper, but I was glad that was not at all the case. Elisandra is so intensely devoted to Corie, and vice versa. *hugs Elisandra because that girl needs like thirty hour-long hugs* 3. Princes and plots and courtly intrigue OOOO BOY. I don't want to say much, because discovering the truth of the world around her--both politically and emotionally--along with Corie was half the fun of this book, but the sparkling idyllic world that Corie THINKS is reality is not at all the case. The book does a really good job of establishing the ways Corie's country functions and feels without ever bogging you down in info dumps or excess political froofra. But of course, it has all the things I like in a book: princes, castles, weddings, dukes and duchesses, heirs and bastards--oh, and aliora, magical beings that...well, I'll let you discover! 4. A slow burn ship of adorableness and dreams AHHHHHH!!! I can't say much, because I don't want to spoil it, but oh my god I was rooting for this ship from so early on! The first part of the book takes place when Corie is fourteen, still young and with stars in her eyes about everyone and everything in Castle Auburn, particularly Prince Bryan and her uncle Jaxon. The rest of the book takes place when she's seventeen and eighteen, and...well, let me just say this romance moves so slowly and so steadily but still it made me SQUEAL in places because they are JUST. SO. CUTE. I CAN'T. EEEEP. Man oh man, do I wish I could say more. Can you all please read it so we can talk about it THANKS okay but this is LITERALLY a scene in the book AND SO IS THIS!! (minus the singing and the giants) 5. An engaging and full fantasy novel that's really, actually all about growing up, learning the truth, and becoming your own person Like I said before, this book is ALL about pulling back the curtain on what you thought was true--or what you believed as a child--and seeing the truth of things, of people, of the world, and of yourself. This book charts Corie's maturation and the way she comes to her own conclusions about things. It was so lovely to see happen in sort of real time, and so realistically, and while I was obviously DYING for Corie to figure things out, and I definitely figured quite a few things out before she did, it was so believable that she'd cling for so long to what she WISHED to be true. Especially because you can just see how much Elisandra and Jaxon and Kent want to preserve that innocence, that magical Corie innocence and spirit, so they never actively TELL her how fucked up the world actually is. But then, when the wool is lifted from her eyes...damn, that girl is unstoppable! #TeamCorielForever slay queen 6. This book made me happy on a soul-deep level Here's the thing about Summers at Castle Auburn, the thing that Jamie mentioned in her amazing review: it feels cozy. It feels old-fashioned, and magical, and like a lost volume out of childhood, because it takes its time to tell the story and is not very high on ACTIONY ACTION and DARKNESS and BLOOD like most of today's fantasies (all of which are things I love, btw). But this book... it made me feel like I was rereading a childhood fave, even though I've never read the book before. Oh, and Sharon Shinn can write like a DREAM. I read it in one evening, curled in my bed, giggling and swooning and gasping and cheering to myself. It just made me happy. I legit hugged the book when I finished. I'm sooooo glad I picked it up, because I am utterly charmed by Summers at Castle Auburn, and I hope you will be too. *contented sigh* I know what I'm about

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    Corie is the illegitimate daughter of a now deceased noble lord. Through an arrangement made while she was young, Corie spends her summers at Castle Auburn, home of her father. She has a great relationship with her legitimate half-sister Elisandra and a not-so-great one with her father's widow. The rest of the time she spends with her maternal grandmother, a wise woman of peasant stock who knows herbal lore and healing. Although she is used to spending time with nobles, including the young Prince Corie is the illegitimate daughter of a now deceased noble lord. Through an arrangement made while she was young, Corie spends her summers at Castle Auburn, home of her father. She has a great relationship with her legitimate half-sister Elisandra and a not-so-great one with her father's widow. The rest of the time she spends with her maternal grandmother, a wise woman of peasant stock who knows herbal lore and healing. Although she is used to spending time with nobles, including the young Prince Bryan (a vain young man on whom Corie has a violent crush), the regent's son Kent and even her own sister who is to marry Bryan and become a queen, Corie understands that she is not really of that world. She enjoys her summers but her eventual plans are to become a wise woman in her village, like her grandmother. But events overtake young Cory. As she grows older she begins to understand a bit more of the world around her. The Regent has plans for her. Although she is illegitimate, she is still of noble lineage and is therefore a valuable commodity on the marriage market. Cory's teenage hero-worship of Bryan also undergoes a change a she is finally made aware of his true nature. Her sister is also aware of Bryan's true nature but is determined to do her family duty and marry him anyway. And then there are the Aliora. Faerie like creatures who are hunted and captured to serve as slaves for the nobility. As a youngster Corie simply understood they were a part of her life but as an adult her eyes are opened to their unhappiness in captivity. This book almost reads like two books in one. There is the first half of the book that feels like a YA novel. Corie is young girl, off with her uncle to hunt Aliora. She is guiless and has the inner dialogue of a giddy teenager girl who has no sense of higher things around her. I was a bit disturbed. I don't normally read YA books and didn't really want to listen to Corie swoon for chapters on end for a young man who was clearly an ass-hat. Thankfully, Shinn keeps the story moving along briskly and in no time, Corie has grown up and has also mentally matured. The second half of the book is much, much stronger. It becomes a story of court intrigue, betrayal, and murder. And the Aliora subplot takes a dramatic turn. There is a strong romance element in this book as I have found with many of Shinn's books. It is obvious that Corie will end up with a love interest, however it isn't obvious who that will be until much later in the book. However, the most intriguing part of the book is the interplay between her uncle Jaxom and the Aliora queen. The relatively smallish passages that deal with Jaxom and his very interesting relationship with Queen Rowena tend to hijack the book a bit for me. In a good way. Honestly, I wish more time was spent on Jaxom and Rowena. Not the best Shinn work, IMO, but still compulsively readable.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner)

    First posted over at my blog where you can find more book talks and general book nerdery. I could die of happiness talking about Summers at Castle Auburn — it was so charming and swoony. It was one of those books that felt like magic. It felt like cozy over-sized sweaters, a good cup of tea, hot cocoa with big ol’ marshmallows, blanket forts and sitting by the fireplace. I don’t know how else to describe it. I felt like it didn’t matter what happened around me as I was reading it in my blanket f First posted over at my blog where you can find more book talks and general book nerdery. I could die of happiness talking about Summers at Castle Auburn — it was so charming and swoony. It was one of those books that felt like magic. It felt like cozy over-sized sweaters, a good cup of tea, hot cocoa with big ol’ marshmallows, blanket forts and sitting by the fireplace. I don’t know how else to describe it. I felt like it didn’t matter what happened around me as I was reading it in my blanket fort with my cuppa tea because I was so utterly absorbed in the story and the characters lives. I loved the setting of castle Auburn and watching her come of age each summer (while getting snippets of her life in the village) there was so delightful. She was irreverent and smart and oh I adored her and her various escapades. I loved watching that shift of innocence and enchantment by life at the castle and then, as she got older, she lost some of that innocence to see things (and people) at the castle for what they were. She got a bit jaded as one does when you get older and everything isn’t how you always thought it to be — especially when she saw all the political maneuvering that has always been there. The ship in this book is one of my faaaaaavorite in a long time. If you are looking for sexy, this is not that. This is the slowest burn of all slow burns and I’m talking rubbing-two-sticks-to-make-fire slow burn. It was delightful and made me squeal and oh man did my heart swell like 10 sizes. If you are looking for those brutal and intense type fantasy books this isn’t quite it. It’s more a charming and happy one — though sad and hard things ARE in it. It’s just not as quite intense or brutal as a lot I’ve read if that makes sense.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Conor

    This story was a long way outside of my wheel house but surprisingly enough I wound up enjoying it. It started very slowly but once I got in to it I came to appreciate the way the plot was allowed to slowly unfold without attempts to cram in superfluous action (although there was still plenty of intrigue and suspense). In ways this book reminded me of Jacquline Carey, especially Kushiel's Scion (I think that was the first book in her second trilogy) in how it focused on the growth of a kid into This story was a long way outside of my wheel house but surprisingly enough I wound up enjoying it. It started very slowly but once I got in to it I came to appreciate the way the plot was allowed to slowly unfold without attempts to cram in superfluous action (although there was still plenty of intrigue and suspense). In ways this book reminded me of Jacquline Carey, especially Kushiel's Scion (I think that was the first book in her second trilogy) in how it focused on the growth of a kid into an adult amidst a background of court intrigue albeit with less *ahem* mature content (i.e. boobs). While it always seemed that the characters, their relationships with each other and their development was the true main plot the court intrigue provided a colorful and often suspenseful backdrop. Especially the lush, extended wedding scene that reminded me a bit of a similar scene in the Deer Hunter (unless I missed it however this book didn't have any Russian Roulette). The characters in this one were well drawn and were really the heart of the story, especially the main character as this book was ultimately less about castle intrigue and magical creatures then it was about the coming of age of a young woman and how she comes to realize that her idealized childhood beliefs (the handsome prince, her kind uncle) are not what they seemed to be.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Proffitt

    This was interesting, but not entirely satisfying. I really liked Corie, and her inner circle of friends were outstanding. The world around them is kind of a crap-pile, though, and that wore on me. The book is broken into three parts, each a summer that Corie spends at the eponymous castle. In the first section, she is 14 and naïve and that's where we get the basic setup. And it's where we see Bryan, the young, and very handsome, prince. And we get hints of things that are to come and the existin This was interesting, but not entirely satisfying. I really liked Corie, and her inner circle of friends were outstanding. The world around them is kind of a crap-pile, though, and that wore on me. The book is broken into three parts, each a summer that Corie spends at the eponymous castle. In the first section, she is 14 and naïve and that's where we get the basic setup. And it's where we see Bryan, the young, and very handsome, prince. And we get hints of things that are to come and the existing tensions that will no doubt flourish in the coming story. The second section is where I ran into trouble. The sections are roughly equal in length, but this part is nearly unrelentingly bleak. Corie is 17 and finds that Bryan is a complete monster and Corie's sister, Elisandra, is looking at a marriage to someone casually cruel and unfeeling. And the only thing worse is knowing that he'll also be the king when he comes of age as well. So him reaching his majority is going to imperil the stability of the kingdom and make someone we know and love miserable beyond endurance. I'll be honest, I skimmed a page or two in this section. Layered into the story at the same time is the plight of the Aliora—fae-like beings who are kind and compassionate, even with their captors (for they are held in slavery enforced by the metal bands they wear to suppress their magic). We see their suffering and their kindness despite it and it becomes clear that holding them as slaves is a deep cruelty that begs redress. In the second part, in addition to seeing the misery of the court in expectation of Bryans eventual ascension we have her awaking to the casual evil that is this enslavement. Which provides a dilemma as the uncle Corie loves, Jaxon, is the primary hunter of Aliora and the single biggest provider of these slaves. As the horror in her grows at their plight, Corie has to figure out what that means about her relationship with Jaxon and how can she continue to love him knowing the misery that lies squarely at his door? The third section ramps the misery up as the expected marriage is planned. I expected to hate it even more but it helped knowing that it was the last section and seeing Corie begin to take action was a good antidote to that despair. And it isn't long before the pace kicks up and the story truly comes into its own. I won't bother with details, even in spoilers, but things work out very satisfactory and I was more than content with the end even though things slow for the last little bit. The ending is so good, in fact, that it tempted me to up this to five stars. In the end, I'm keeping it at four because of the slog in the middle. And because I'm still not sure what to think about Corie's uncle, Jaxon, and at least some of that is that he was allowed to simply fall out of the narrative. Still, it's a solid four stars and it ends on a definite high. A note about Chaste: There's no sex in the story, though infidelity and its consequences appear. We get some kissing, but that's all that's on screen.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brigid

    This book. THIS BOOK. Wowza. The heroine is so enchanting, and in the beginning I didn't really feel like anything was happening, but it was just such an enjoyable read that I kept going. And then -- AND THEN -- I was in the middle of the book and I discovered just how masterfully the author wove together all these threads of deceit and palace intrigue and love. I'm blown away. Wow. Read it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell

    THIS BOOK IS $1.99 TODAY!!!! It's been on my to-read list forEVERRRR, so I'm sharing the grand news with y'all

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    I am not the biggest fan of young adult books, but had hoped this one would appeal to adult fantasy readers as well. After plodding through the first 80 or so pages, I did find it entertaining, but with a variety of problems and inconsistencies that make it hard to recommend. Summers at Castle Auburn is the first-person narrative of Corie, the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman. She spends her summers at court with her older half-sister, and the rest of the year with her grandmother, a village h I am not the biggest fan of young adult books, but had hoped this one would appeal to adult fantasy readers as well. After plodding through the first 80 or so pages, I did find it entertaining, but with a variety of problems and inconsistencies that make it hard to recommend. Summers at Castle Auburn is the first-person narrative of Corie, the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman. She spends her summers at court with her older half-sister, and the rest of the year with her grandmother, a village herbalist. At the beginning Corie is 14, and her biggest problem is reconciling her crush on the crown prince with her adoration of her sister, who’s betrothed to him. By Parts 2 and 3 she’s a few years older, and finally noticing the problems in her world: the prince’s erratic and dangerous behavior, and the kidnapping and enslavement of the aliora (elves or fairies of some sort). It’s a predictable plot, but I enjoyed predicting it. And the aliora subplot is handled well; Corie begins the book accepting what she’s been taught, and with a vested interest in the system, because she loves having aliora servants. But once she sees the suffering this situation causes, she begins to rethink her assumptions. The romance doesn’t work so well: both Corie’s and her sister Elisandra’s romances are treated as mysteries, with all four players either hiding their feelings or not realizing them until near the end. To the extent we can predict the eventual pairings, it’s through knowledge of fictional conventions and the process of elimination rather than actual chemistry; the relationships are left undeveloped. And the end is unconvincing: (view spoiler)[while I applauded Corie’s actions in freeing the aliora, it’s hard to envision the nobility accepting her as queen after that. They’d paid a fortune for their aliora servants, and not only that, they’d paid most of it to Corie’s uncle, whose estate Corie and her sister had since inherited. Both the practical and the moral implications of this situation are ignored. (hide spoiler)] As for the characters, Corie is a typical YA female protagonist: headstrong, rebellious, naïve, and trained in herblore. (More than one problem is solved with herbs so convenient it’s as if they were invented for this plot. Oh right, they were!) Shinn does a good job with Corie’s voice, however, and the writing flows smoothly. Elisandra and Uncle Jaxon are interesting characters, but most of the supporting cast is flat. I was especially put off by the treatment of Angela, Corie’s best friend after her sister. Angela is one of those stock female characters whose only personality trait is a love of gossip. Because Corie wants to know what’s going on, she cultivates a friendship with Angela despite thinking of her as “the shallowest woman I’d ever met.” Which speaks poorly of Corie as a friend, but is also hypocritical, as the two girls’ desire to keep up with goings-on at court is essentially the same. As for the worldbuilding, this is one of the cushiest, most egalitarian quasi-medieval settings I’ve encountered: everyone bathes regularly; the village wise woman is not only literate but has bookshelves full of novels; the nobility are on friendly terms with their guards and servants, who can all be seen sitting around a campfire together having a chat; Corie takes a gap year to do some waitressing and save money. To lovers of YA fairytale fantasy, I imagine this is a feature rather than a bug, but the setting isn’t charming or dreamy enough for me to cheerfully overlook anachronism. And the naming conventions are all over the place: the only rhyme or reason I see is that the characters Shinn likes get fancy invented names (Elisandra, Coriel), while the ones she doesn’t have commonplace and undistinguished ones (Bryan, Megan). It’s hard to imagine “Bryan” as a crown prince, while Corie gets a princess’s name despite her low birth. In the end, if you want to turn off your brain for awhile, this isn’t the worst book you could pick, but you could do better. The writing seems intended to appeal to adults as well as teens, but it's not a book I’d recommend to adult readers.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    Originally reviewed here. I discovered Sharon Shinn through the fabulous Archangel--the first book in her Samaria series. I was instantly smitten and plowed my way through that series quick like a bunny. I'm pretty sure I picked up SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN while waiting for the fifth Samaria book to come out. I knew it was YA and much more traditional fantasy (also no sci fi), but honestly I was just sort of making time, if you will. I wasn't expecting that much. You know how you find a new autho Originally reviewed here. I discovered Sharon Shinn through the fabulous Archangel--the first book in her Samaria series. I was instantly smitten and plowed my way through that series quick like a bunny. I'm pretty sure I picked up SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN while waiting for the fifth Samaria book to come out. I knew it was YA and much more traditional fantasy (also no sci fi), but honestly I was just sort of making time, if you will. I wasn't expecting that much. You know how you find a new author via a series that just steals your heart, and after devouring it in its entirety you're simultaneously dying for more but so afraid the author's other books won't hold the same shine that those first ones do? Sometimes your fears bear out. But sometimes you end up eating humble pie, quite happily and deservedly so. That was the case here. That is to say nothing, of course, of the prejudice I am occasionally guilty of when it comes to one of my favorite adult authors crossing over and writing YA. So often I feel like they come off as just lite versions of themselves, and I'm left longing for the depth and emotional intensity of their adult titles. Thankfully, SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN is a gem of an exception--a beautifully told coming of age tale set in a deceptively idyllic fantasy realm. Corie inhabits a fairly unorthodox space in her world. The illegitimate daughter of a deceased lord, she spends the majority of the year learning how to be a village healer with her grandmother. But she spends summers at Castle Auburn. Her father's brother, Lord Jaxon, convinced her grandmother to let him foster Corie at Auburn just for the summers, so that she can get to know her half sister Elisandra and learn to be a lady in the hopes that she might make a good marriage one day and rise from the obscurity her father's dying left her in. Jaxon is hearty and hale and full of life and fourteen-year-old Corie loves her summers at his home. She also loves her beautiful half sister Elisandra who is betrothed to the debonair Prince Bryan. Corie harbors something of a crush on Prince Bryan, secretly hoping he will notice her one of these summers, even though she knows he will eventually wed Elisandra. As Corie grows up, however, she begins to understand the darker machinations at work behind these lovely facades. Bryan is more than he appears to be. Elisandra is not as calm and quiescent as she seems. And the fabled Aliora, the fey creatures who are hunted and forced into slavery to the nobility, are far more complex than Corie has been led to believe. She must decide who she will be and what she will do with her new-found knowledge. Corie is very much an impressionable young girl at the novel's start. Her goals and crushes and ambitions are small ones, shaped by her limited experience and perception of the world and the people that surround her. Initially, I wondered how far Ms. Shinn would take her as such. But this is one of those wonderful stories where the characters evolve and reveal their depth--all of them--and the reader is privileged to witness their various and sundry transformations. The fascinating bit is that the world undergoes the same unveiling process. At first glance, it's prettily medieval, full of charming hunts, dashing young men, and mystical faery beings. But the gloves come off, so to speak, as the scales fall from Corie's eyes. Even Uncle Jaxon has things he'd rather keep hidden. Themes of despair, doubt, and disillusionment run like ribbons throughout the story. But they are balanced by a cautiously and skillfully written love story, which even I didn't see coming and which isn't fully revealed until Corie has accepted herself and made her decisions about her world and her place in it. I love how her voice changes as she matures. I love how several characters managed to surprise me. And I love where things end. Always retaining that fairy tale feel, SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN reminds me of the novels of the wonderful Patricia McKillip, especially The Book of Atrix Wolfe. When you find yourself in need of something new, I suggest tracking down a copy of SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN. It's sweet and comfortable, with a surprisingly dark and gooey center. In other words, one of the ones I can (and do) hand anyone.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Olga Godim

    I first read this book many years ago, when I didn’t write reviews and neither GR nor BL existed. In fact, it was so long ago, I didn’t remember anything about the book except that it was sitting on my shelf, reminding me of pleasures gone by. This reading felt as fresh as if it was a new book. After almost fifteen years since its publication, I guess it was, in a sense. Like many novels of this writer, this one is gentle and seemingly slow. It is a classic growing-up story. It starts when the h I first read this book many years ago, when I didn’t write reviews and neither GR nor BL existed. In fact, it was so long ago, I didn’t remember anything about the book except that it was sitting on my shelf, reminding me of pleasures gone by. This reading felt as fresh as if it was a new book. After almost fifteen years since its publication, I guess it was, in a sense. Like many novels of this writer, this one is gentle and seemingly slow. It is a classic growing-up story. It starts when the heroine, Corie, is fourteen, ends when she is eighteen, and is told from her POV. An orphan and an illegitimate daughter of the late bastard brother of an important lord, she lives with her grandma, a village witch, when her uncle, Lord Jaxon, rides in, looking for her. He makes a deal with her grandma that Corie will spend every summer at the royal castle, learning the ways of the court. Learning her own strengths and weaknesses. Learning to love and hate, to understand and forgive. With her shining, courageous spirit and her kindness, Corie makes friends easily and indiscriminately. Many among nobility, servants, and guards are attracted to her. She is not perfect but she is alive: opinionated, compassionate, and smart. Sometimes she makes mistakes and misjudges people and situations, but she is brave enough to admit her faults and generous enough to give of her heart. The more summers she spends at Castle Auburn, the less she feels as if she belongs to her village heritage. Unfortunately, the older she gets, the more she abhors the backstabbing and the political maneuvering of the royal court. Straddling two worlds, she doesn’t fully associate with either. It takes her some time to find her place in the universe. Through the changing seasons, we see her mature, with the court life swirling in the background, supporting a complex and multidimensional cast. Each character is as alive as the protagonist, each with his or her own unique thread; all of them contributing to the colorful tapestry of the book. There is Corie’s beloved half-sister Elisandra, composed and determined. There is guard Roderic, Corie’s stalwart friend. There is Prince Bryan, a petty arrogant boy in the beginning of the tale transforming into a cruel and haughty man by the end of it. There is Kent, the prince’s cousin, a young man who changes the least throughout the story but captures everyone’s heart as much as Corie’s. And then there are mysterious aliora, enslaved by humans – Shinn’s exclusive and totally original take on the fairies. Despite its slow pace, quiet as a whisper, this book found its way into my heart. I loved its low-key lyrical story. I loved its sensible heroine. I loved the dash of intrigue and the whiff of romance. I loved Corie’s infallible sense of justice and her inner freedom. I loved the aliora. I loved the lightness of this novel, especially with so many darker stories dominating the fantasy genre these days. I simply loved it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen

    3.5 Stars All in all this was a good book but I did find myself at times rolling my eyes at how everything came together so perfectly without any trouble. Especially at the end. I don't understand how all that time, our heroine wasn't able to figure matters of heart out.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    As the base-born daughter of a nobleman, Corie, who is fourteen at this book's opening, spends her winters in her grandmother's village learning herb-lore, and her summers at Castle Auburn, where she enjoys a close relationship with her noble half-sister who has been betrothed to the crown prince since birth. Corie has a severe crush on the prince who oh so unfortunately happens to be a selfish cad. As the story unfolds, her eyes are opened not only to his real nature, but to the plans being mad As the base-born daughter of a nobleman, Corie, who is fourteen at this book's opening, spends her winters in her grandmother's village learning herb-lore, and her summers at Castle Auburn, where she enjoys a close relationship with her noble half-sister who has been betrothed to the crown prince since birth. Corie has a severe crush on the prince who oh so unfortunately happens to be a selfish cad. As the story unfolds, her eyes are opened not only to his real nature, but to the plans being made at court for her own fate, as well as to other signs that all is not well in her world, such as the cruel imprisonment of a fairy-like race of creatures who are enslaved by those of the nobility that can afford them. Shinn writes engagingly enough that I didn't mind that I saw most of the plot twists coming from miles away, and that most of the things that are confusing and unclear to Corie are blindingly obvious to the reader. My inner-adolescent enjoyed the story very much. My inner-cynical grown-up couldn't avoid noticing that this is the sort of pseudo-medieval fantasy in which the characters live in a world which hasn't developed a technology higher than paper, but seem to enjoy lots of modern conveniences, such as regular baths, closets in their bedrooms, and dependable mail service. Also male and female friends exchange hugs with the unselfconscious ease of present-day college students. However, none of the foregoing prevented me from scarfing the book down like candy and it made perfect forget-you-are-on-the-subway reading.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dyanna

    Trailer Book Actually rating: 4.5 stars This is a historical setting book knitted with fantasy and fairy tale tropes that I totally loved. The story is about Corie, a bastard daughter of a noble, who in every summer she visits her noble family at Castle Auburn. There are 3 parts to the story and with every part we see Corie mature from this very naive girl to an independent woman that knows diplomacy and the games of court. I loved the bond between the two sisters. Even if Elisandra is the soon t Trailer Book Actually rating: 4.5 stars This is a historical setting book knitted with fantasy and fairy tale tropes that I totally loved. The story is about Corie, a bastard daughter of a noble, who in every summer she visits her noble family at Castle Auburn. There are 3 parts to the story and with every part we see Corie mature from this very naive girl to an independent woman that knows diplomacy and the games of court. I loved the bond between the two sisters. Even if Elisandra is the soon to be queen of Auburn by being betrothed to the prince , she still loves Corie and vice-versa being her true friend and loving her like a true sister will do. I loved also the romance well more exactly the man Corie ends up in the end. Even if I kinda of knew who will end of with in the end, I still felt that there were many good men that could take her heart. However I felt their romance was a little too rushed . I also had a hunch about who Elisandra will end up in the end and I wished I had read her POV also. What was a surprise to me was the poisoning of the prince and how it was maneuvered in a clever way. Unfortunately by accident I kinda spoiled myself in regard of Bryan's dead and I felt that it would have surprised me a great way if I did not know it !!! 😫 P.S: In a weird way this book reminded me of Hello Lady Lynn

  17. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I just loved, loved, loved this book; not in a heart pounding, gripping, page turning kind of way, but in more of a lovely, lose yourself, relaxing kind of read. A lovely mix of coming of age story, romance and fairy tale all mixed in one. Corrie is the illegitimate child of a Lord who spend most of her time with her grandmother in a small village learning herb lore. But she lives for the summers she spends at Castle Auburn with her adventerous uncle, her half-sister who she loves and her father' I just loved, loved, loved this book; not in a heart pounding, gripping, page turning kind of way, but in more of a lovely, lose yourself, relaxing kind of read. A lovely mix of coming of age story, romance and fairy tale all mixed in one. Corrie is the illegitimate child of a Lord who spend most of her time with her grandmother in a small village learning herb lore. But she lives for the summers she spends at Castle Auburn with her adventerous uncle, her half-sister who she loves and her father's widow who dislikes her. The summer of her seventeenth year she suddenly finds herself seeing things in a new light and is disturbed by what she sees. I loved this girl, Corrie, she's spirited and likeable and refuses to conform to the rules of court life. Still, she can not see what is right in front of her. This one charmed the pants off me, i can see myself reading it again and again. Must read more Sharon Shinn. Recommended to anyone who likes Robin McKinley or Juliet Marillier.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I liked this! I’d go so far as to say I liked it a lot. And yet there’s something very uneven about it: it’s almost a patchwork collection of elements, and it never comes together for me. I’m not certain about the protagonist herself, for starters. She starts off as a young, naive girl, and that’s fairly well expressed, but then a few years are skipped in the narrative, and I never had a real handle on her after that. I never believed her life was impacted, anywhere, by her illegitimacy. She made I liked this! I’d go so far as to say I liked it a lot. And yet there’s something very uneven about it: it’s almost a patchwork collection of elements, and it never comes together for me. I’m not certain about the protagonist herself, for starters. She starts off as a young, naive girl, and that’s fairly well expressed, but then a few years are skipped in the narrative, and I never had a real handle on her after that. I never believed her life was impacted, anywhere, by her illegitimacy. She made decisions I found unconvincing and she didn’t notice enough of what was going on (despite having two interchangeable gossipy friends). (view spoiler)[Her behavior in response to her uncle was maddeningly inconsistent! Why did she free the aliora? (Cressida’s after-the-fact explanation feels like too little, too late.) Her response to the poisoning in general is vague to the point where it feels the author is actively hiding something. (She is, of course, but it’s a poorly done mystery!) (hide spoiler)] Her sister is the barest sketch of a character - the people surrounding them are almost no better - and the characters with the only consistent distinct personalities are, I think, Kent and his father. Even Bryan is every young spoiled drunk-on-power prince in a fantasy. And the aliora themselves - I’m left wondering what role they actually play in the story! (view spoiler)[ They’re not needed to underscore Bryan’s unfitness; that’s clear enough without them. Corie could irritate Lord Matthew another way (view spoiler)[in order to get banished (hide spoiler)] . They don’t overhear secrets and even the young girl makes the barest of appearances and no vital impact. What’s the relevance of the gold? What’s the relevance of their queen’s marriage, the claim it’s in order to hate Jaxon, and their disappearance? Is it all to provide Corie with an excuse and Elisandra with an estate? Do they exist only to give the novel a fey element? Can’t the power transfer happen with foreign nationals filling these roles, or even human slaves? (hide spoiler)] The plot is fairly uneven, too: (view spoiler)[I thought the poisoning plot was fairly brilliant (although desperate to a point I simply didn’t believe of the character involved), and yet we never find out why it works. (view spoiler)[Why doesn’t Bryan drink from his water glass? It’s never explained! (hide spoiler)] I’m not even sure why it had to wait until the night of the wedding. Why not earlier? And the foreshadowing is so clumsy! Someone goes through her bag and leaves all that evidence! And then it’s never mentioned again... Bryan’s child dies conveniently and is seemingly only born to illustrate what a terrible person he is, and the death is referenced as foul play in passing and then never mentioned again... “I did not want to be one of your own,” Corie says, but why? Because they’re expected to make political marriages? (hide spoiler)] I’m talking myself into liking this less, and yet while I was reading it, I really did enjoy it! But it doesn’t feel like Sharon Shinn to me. It’s too piecemeal and almost ephemeral, in a way. It doesn’t feel unified and impactful in the way Shinn’s worlds can.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey (Bring My Books)

    I told this to a friend when I was halfway through this book, and I can't think of a better way to explain it: "It feels classic and sophisticated and beautiful and sort of like coming home." This book, to me, is what perfect fantasies are made of. It's not about the magic or the creatures or the world-building, it's about using fantastical things to explore human lives and the motivations and morals and ethics within. Simply put, I have been absolutely ensorceled by this beautiful book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jojo

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is one of those books that makes me wish you could give half stars. I put four, but three and a half is what I would give if I could. It's not that it's not a totally enjoyable read, because it is. I love Sharon Shinn, and this book is no exception. But it is very predictable (but sort of in a comfortingly familiar way, although I hadn't read it before). And while I like Corie very much at times, at other times she really doesn't click with me. I think less of her for ever thinking well of B This is one of those books that makes me wish you could give half stars. I put four, but three and a half is what I would give if I could. It's not that it's not a totally enjoyable read, because it is. I love Sharon Shinn, and this book is no exception. But it is very predictable (but sort of in a comfortingly familiar way, although I hadn't read it before). And while I like Corie very much at times, at other times she really doesn't click with me. I think less of her for ever thinking well of Bryan; this might be more a problem with how he is written because he's just so obviously horrible from the very first time we meet him, and I don't feel like any amount of hotness would completely blind someone to his many faults, even if she is just 14. Actually, now that I think of it, Corie's blindness to various things is exactly what annoys me about her. Her blindness to Bryan's faults, her blindness to Kent being in love with her (and being willfully blind here with all the convincing herself he's in love with Elisandra when it's so so obvious that he's not), her blindness - before anyone states a different opinion - to the plight of the aliora. The last annoys me more because, while I can understand her taking them for granted at the beginning and certainly agree with her freeing them at the end, I would have liked to see her change her opinion about them on her own instead of only coming to realize that their slavery was wrong after she found out other people believed that. It just feels like a lot of the time she comes to her opinions based on other people's opinions, and she would be a stronger character if they were based on her experiences. If that makes sense. I did really love Elisandra though and the delicious moral ambiguity of her actions. Because, dude, I absolutely can't fault her for doing what she could to take care of the problem of Bryan being her husband and being king. On the other hand, she freaking murdered him and - not only that - could have potentially killed a bunch of other people, had the plan gone awry. LOVE IT.

  21. 4 out of 5

    SallyB

    Recommend for young readers. Castle intrigues, witchcraft, magic, clean romance. The only part in this book that I would warn parents of young readers of is the birthing scene, which I'm sure they seen worse on tv (or real life if u are that parent) then reading about it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Clare Cannon

    Aptly recommended for fans of Crown Duel, Summers at Castle Auburn comes closer than most to the attractive innocence and depth of character of that much loved romance. The protagonist, young Coriel, has courage and wisdom and a youthful generosity that endears her to many, even though she lacks the poise and polish (and some would say self-restraint) that would please her noble elders. Her good humour and common sense make her a loveable first-person narrator. Most characters are differentiated Aptly recommended for fans of Crown Duel, Summers at Castle Auburn comes closer than most to the attractive innocence and depth of character of that much loved romance. The protagonist, young Coriel, has courage and wisdom and a youthful generosity that endears her to many, even though she lacks the poise and polish (and some would say self-restraint) that would please her noble elders. Her good humour and common sense make her a loveable first-person narrator. Most characters are differentiated early on by their quality of character: the selfish prince contrasted with his level-headed cousin, the reserved princess-to-be contrasted with her spontaneous younger sister, and Shinn even allows characters to be aware of it, introducing discussions about 'what kind of person one wants to be' from the very beginning. The subtle romance is a pleasant contrast from the young adult insta-love formula and its development is heartening to behold. Friendships are many and deep, and the relationship between the two half-sisters warmest of all. The fantasy elements, including Corrie's work as a healer (occasionally referred to as witchcraft), serve the character-driven plot without delving too deeply into the strange. The novel is not without its minor drawbacks, however, some of which are serious if brief. Corrie brags half in jest that she knows herb lore for both 'making the babies come' and 'stopping the babies from coming'. She does not put this knowledge into practice, at least in this story. On another occasion a good character mercifully ends the life of someone who is being cruelly tortured by another, and is praised for it. Another good character actually poisons someone they detest, leading to painful illness and death. It is more or less justified as 'their way of standing up for themselves', and something which other good characters don't think they would have the 'strength of character' to do. There's also the occasional crude reference, and less tolerably, an inappropriate if small exception to Corrie's innocence, once where she allows an over excited guardsman to kiss her after a dance (more or less excusable), and another time kissing a married man in thanks (complete with a 'don't tell your wife') after she was herself already betrothed to another. Another good character's virtue is talked of lightly as though it is understandable if that step had already been taken before the marriage bed. These seem small, unnecessary additions that just tarnish the overall. Certainly the good overrides the bad at least in quantity, and readers with a little maturity and judgement should be able to see past the deficiencies. www.GoodReadingGuide.com

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    This is a wonderful story of a girl named Corie. Corie is the illegitimate daughter of a lord. After he passes away her uncle Jaxon decides to take care of her. He works out an agreement with her grandmother that she will spend the summer at Castle Auburn and the rest of the year with her grandmother learning “witchcraft” (really, she is just a healer). Most of the story takes place at the castle though, where her “grooming” takes place in hopes that she will have a politically placed marriage. This is a wonderful story of a girl named Corie. Corie is the illegitimate daughter of a lord. After he passes away her uncle Jaxon decides to take care of her. He works out an agreement with her grandmother that she will spend the summer at Castle Auburn and the rest of the year with her grandmother learning “witchcraft” (really, she is just a healer). Most of the story takes place at the castle though, where her “grooming” takes place in hopes that she will have a politically placed marriage. It almost has a feel of The Bachelorette, at the beginning of the story there are a few different men that might end up being “the one”. The book was beautifully written and very easy to get into. The story was great and I was happy to have found it. If you enjoyed The Goose Girl or Seer and the Sword then you will like this book. Updated 04/30/10 I love our heroine Corie (Coriel), she starts off as a young naïve fourteen year-old, but is also very kind and adventurous. As she grows older she starts to see her world in a different light, seeing people she’s known her whole life for who they really are. She spends the majority of the year with her grandmother in a small village learning “witchcraft” (just medicine really) and her summers at Castle Auburn, with her half sister Elisandra. I loved the relationship between the two sisters. Regardless of their backgrounds they deeply cared for one another. I also really liked Corie’s love interest (LI) and my only complaint was that I wanted MORE time between them, especially near the very end. Her LI was very likable, for me from the beginning. He was a great friend to Corie throughout the book, and you could tell that he was totally crazy about her. I was on the edge of my seat wondering if they would ever end up together. Aside from the main characters, the story was also very entertaining. I liked the plot and you never really know what was going to happen next. There were some twists near the end that were exciting and while I was very happy with how everything ended up, I wasn’t ready for the story to end. The story ends well, but I would love it if Shinn set a new novel in Auburn.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Henrietta

    Reading Summers at Castle Auburn is like having a leisurely stroll in a park. I like the pacing – it’s of a slower pace but offers just the right amount of time and space for the characters to grow on me. There is hardly anything redundant in the plot. What I really love about the story is that many of the characters feel very real and believable – people are not black and white – human nature is never straightly good or evil and I like that there are all kinds of shadiness here. Selfish characters Reading Summers at Castle Auburn is like having a leisurely stroll in a park. I like the pacing – it’s of a slower pace but offers just the right amount of time and space for the characters to grow on me. There is hardly anything redundant in the plot. What I really love about the story is that many of the characters feel very real and believable – people are not black and white – human nature is never straightly good or evil and I like that there are all kinds of shadiness here. Selfish characters are really hard to be liked but strangely, I not only empathize them but also feel relieved when I learn of their selfishness in this story. On the author website, Shinn mentioned that her favorite scene was where Corie freed the aliora. (In the story, the aliora are creatures that have been trapped and subdued as slaves for humans.) I like the scene too but my most favorite part is about the revelation of the fate of the hunter. It really makes me wonder who is inevitably being haunted and hunted in the web of life. I know I’m being vague here but this is a story that needs to be read in my opinion. I haven’t read other titles by Shinn but after reading this, I am going to add all her other books to my read list. Have you read any books by Sharon Shinn? -- Originally posted on LeisureReads.com

  25. 4 out of 5

    Clara Thompson

    How could I possibly begin to describe the depth of love I have for this book? I suppose I could start with the characters. Only once have I encountered a book with this amount of depth, this amount of beautiful characters who are so excellently written, there's not a doubt in my mind how they would behave in every situation--and that lone book is Robin McKinley's CHALICE. From the opening few sentences, I knew who these characters were, and I loved each of them for their brilliant wordplay and How could I possibly begin to describe the depth of love I have for this book? I suppose I could start with the characters. Only once have I encountered a book with this amount of depth, this amount of beautiful characters who are so excellently written, there's not a doubt in my mind how they would behave in every situation--and that lone book is Robin McKinley's CHALICE. From the opening few sentences, I knew who these characters were, and I loved each of them for their brilliant wordplay and humor, regardless whether they were hero or villain. Sharon Shinn writes in a way that most people can only dream of-- with simple words that aren't too flowery, and yet...she paints the most poignant scenery with these few words. Another thing I admired was the amount of conversing that transpired between characters. Shinn didn't stop to tell you how a character felt; she let them tell each other. Which made a good story brilliant. Not to mention it was just long enough to never once make you feel cheated out of some plot point that you had been fervently waiting for...she stopped and let you live through her characters so that never once did the pace of the story feel rushed or clipped. I cannot possibly begin to say the amount of depth within this book. But it was beautiful, and I fell in love with Auburn and the characters that lived within it...and I sincerely believe you will, too.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    A book of political opinions encased in a fairly simplistic fantasy tale. Corie is the illigitimate daughter of a noble house of women who frequently marry into the royal family. The book details her split childhood, raised by her grandmother the healer in a dirt cottage and her "Summers at Castle Auburn," every year, to be taught and cultivated by her noble relatives. I don't remember this book as being particularly complicated, but it is honest. Forthright in its views and with a very definite A book of political opinions encased in a fairly simplistic fantasy tale. Corie is the illigitimate daughter of a noble house of women who frequently marry into the royal family. The book details her split childhood, raised by her grandmother the healer in a dirt cottage and her "Summers at Castle Auburn," every year, to be taught and cultivated by her noble relatives. I don't remember this book as being particularly complicated, but it is honest. Forthright in its views and with a very definite value system to get across, Sharon Shinn and her heroine Corie spread modern values of freedom, free-thinking, broken class barriers, independence, and women's rights as she grows to maturity in her politically tense world. It is a fairy tale (with the fairies to prove it), but with a less than conventionally fitting ending. Very good YA/beach reading.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Minni Mouse

    3.5 stars because while that was the perfect fantasy setting, serene, and old-school flighty like a Juliet Marillier novel, it was also relatively plotless as far as action story arcs. Props for an honest, wide-eyed look through the loss of naïveté and childlike gaiety. Secondary props for what I considered to be two convincing potential slow-burns. Que the super sweet innocence of lurve. Cons for the lack of a clear plot. My recommendation? Go in knowing it's an experience versus a journey. Other 3.5 stars because while that was the perfect fantasy setting, serene, and old-school flighty like a Juliet Marillier novel, it was also relatively plotless as far as action story arcs. Props for an honest, wide-eyed look through the loss of naïveté and childlike gaiety. Secondary props for what I considered to be two convincing potential slow-burns. Que the super sweet innocence of lurve. Cons for the lack of a clear plot. My recommendation? Go in knowing it's an experience versus a journey. Otherwise you'll be skipping pages like me, wondering when the Mother of Dragon's going to pop out and torch Middle Earth.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tandie

    Coriel spends every summer at Castle Auburn with her half sister. She's 14 at the beginning of the story & takes everyone at face value. Later in the story, she's 17 and thinks that everybody's changed. She comes to the realization that SHE is the one who's different and is finally able to see people the way they truly are. Coriel starts out naive but eventually grows to recognize some great wrongs & tries to right them. Coriel spends every summer at Castle Auburn with her half sister. She's 14 at the beginning of the story & takes everyone at face value. Later in the story, she's 17 and thinks that everybody's changed. She comes to the realization that SHE is the one who's different and is finally able to see people the way they truly are. Coriel starts out naive but eventually grows to recognize some great wrongs & tries to right them.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Asheley

    I can't believe how much I loved this one. It's so so good!! I actually started reading a paperback but ended up buying a copy for my Kindle and the audiobook as well. I'm 100% sure I will reread this in the future. This is a deliciously super slow-burn coming-of-age kingdom fantasy story. I really tried to drag it out and read it slowly so I wouldn't inhale it. But it was hard because it was so easy to settle into the story and get so comfortable with what was going on at court! I love kingdom- I can't believe how much I loved this one. It's so so good!! I actually started reading a paperback but ended up buying a copy for my Kindle and the audiobook as well. I'm 100% sure I will reread this in the future. This is a deliciously super slow-burn coming-of-age kingdom fantasy story. I really tried to drag it out and read it slowly so I wouldn't inhale it. But it was hard because it was so easy to settle into the story and get so comfortable with what was going on at court! I love kingdom-type stories so much. Intrigue, politics, feasting, drama, romance, the clothes-I love it all. The story follows Corie over several years as she spends her summers at Castle Auburn with her sister Elisandra and other family members and members of the royal court. She spends the rest of the year with her grandmother back in her small village cottage, learning herbs and potions. As we see her growth over the summers at the castle, we see Corie transform from a young girl with a wide-open, trusting, ideal view of the world around her and everyone in it...to an older young woman who sees the world as imperfect, with imperfect, flawed people in it. It is heartbreaking for her to learn that people she has idolized actually make bad choices and have flaws, and it is also hard to witness a few things that happen in the story. Overall Corie's growth over the story as well as the growth of the rest of the cast is both wonderful and painful. The characters are so well-written and I loved several of them so much. OH MY GOSH the way everything ends is SO GOOD, I just couldn't believe it. I thought that I had it all figured out and I knew how it would all end, but I was so wrong! It is positively delicious and will be the most perfect reread one day when I need something wonderful from my shelves. I'm already looking forward to it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aneca

    It took me a while to get into this book. I wasn't too sure I really wanted to read it and my prejudice against fantasy almost made me quit. But I persevered and I have to say that the more I read it the more I loved it and wanted to know more. Now that I've finished I can safely say it found a place among my favourites. So what did I like so much about it? Well she creates a world with medieval reflections that is a sort of fairy-tale land, and then this is a coming of age story and I just love It took me a while to get into this book. I wasn't too sure I really wanted to read it and my prejudice against fantasy almost made me quit. But I persevered and I have to say that the more I read it the more I loved it and wanted to know more. Now that I've finished I can safely say it found a place among my favourites. So what did I like so much about it? Well she creates a world with medieval reflections that is a sort of fairy-tale land, and then this is a coming of age story and I just love those. Corrie, our heroine, is the daughter of a nobleman and a village girld who seduce him. As a result she spends most of the time in the village but every year she goes to live in the castle for 3 months. There she stays with her half - sister Elisandra, her uncle Jaxon and meets Prince Bryan, Elisandra's intended and the future ruler. As the years go by and she keeps returning to the castle her vision of the people and situations will change. Among the secondary characters are the Aliora, some sort of elfs that Corrie's uncle chases and captures to sell as slaves. Her vision of the Aliora will also change in time and they become more real to her and she more concerned with their plight. I found myself wishing Shinn had developed the Aliora world a bit more. Not only Corrie will be faced with difficult choices as she grows up but also Elisandra will have to choose between duty and happiness. As both sisters ultimately make their choices the story resembles even more of a fairy tale by reaching it's happy ending. But a good one! Shinn portrays vivid characters, with believable feeling and I really enjoyed the world building. I might just have to reconsider how much I might enjoy fantasy after this one. Grade: A

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