The Perilous Gard

by Elizabeth Marie Pope

Cover Beauty Score: 2 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 5 out of 5

Plot Blurb: Kate Sutton is one of Queen Mary's lady's maids who is exiled to a remote castle after displeasing her. While she learns about the grounds and how its master, Sir Geoffrey Heron, lost his daughter under mysterious circumstances surrounding his brother, Christopher. After learning that the local folk fear the "Fairy Folk" and guard their children scrupulously, she begins to suspect that perhaps Christopher isn't to blame for the girl's disappearance. Together Kate and Christopher have to figure out a way to find Geoffrey's daughter and defeat the Lady in Green who rules the fairy's underworld domain.

My Reaction: In honor of St. Patrick's day, I thought I'd review one of my all time favorites. This book is so near and dear to my heart. It has held a firm place on my favorites list since I found it on the Newberry Award Winners shelf at Books a Million when I was in middle school. Yes, it's a middle grade book. Does that mean it's any less awesome? No. This is one that I wish I could take and rewrite to make even darker and intense (dare I say more Perilous?).

Let's start with the writing. Straight off the bat, you know you're going to get something really well done if it's a Newberry book. It's just a fact that you don't get that award if you're producing some half-assed crap that a four year old could stream together. Pope is a phenomenal writer, her words succinct and clear in a voice that is pleasant to read and conveys a very strong pov for the heroine.

The history of the "Fairy Folk" in this is fabulous, plain and simple. The world that Pope creates underground for them is imaginative, secretive, and eerily beautiful in a way that will endear me forever to the idea of living underground. She has created an entire culture that is believable and steeped in the folk lore of ancient tales. You wish you could be there in Kate's shoes, kicking some ass and not standing for the shitty elitist attitude that those fairies throw at her.

Speaking of Kate, she is one of my favorite heroines ever! She's tough and puts her cards on the table in a way that is honest and refreshing. She knows who she is and doesn't simper or wait for boys to save her. She does a lot of the saving in this one, actually. In fact, the girl is so badass that even the douchebag stick up their butts Fairy Folk decide she's pretty cool.

And then to top it all off, there's the sweet and real romance that buds between Kate and Christopher. There's a lot of growth that happens between these two, and they learn to admire and work with one another as they search for the lost girl. It's a romance that feels real and tangible, while still having some swoon worthy moments. Still possibly one of my absolute favorite endings ever.

I really can't think of anything bad about this book. Even after a decade of rereading this thing, it never gets old for me. To this day, I make a habit of picking it up every time the fall season rolls around. Something about the smell of hay and bonfires gets me thinking about the tone and feel of this one. I can dance around a fire and pretend I'm rescuing my lover from the threat of human sacrifice, snickering at my own genius as I outsmart fairies and magical creatures.

Whoops. Did I just say too much? Who cares! Get out there and read this one!! You seriously won't regret it. Happy St. Patty's Day!

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