I would have loved this book so hard as a twelve-year-old….sadly, I’m no longer twelve, and that means I’m no longer the intended audience for this book.
One of the folklore professors at school recommended “The Perilous Gard” to me as one of her favorite, nostalgic, go-to books on Fairies.
Maybe I went into it with the wrong expectations. Maybe I should’ve schooled my disappointed “oh, it’s YA” when I found it at the library. Maybe I should have walked away slowly from this book….but I didn’t, and now you all have to suffer.
The “Perilous Gard” follows Kate Sutton through Tudor England as she’s thrust out of Lady Elizabeth’s household at Hatfield by Queen Mary and sent into confinement at an obscure castle many miles away called “The Perilous Gard,” so called because of the many rumors of Fairy activity that surrounds its woods and mountains.
Kate is bored and curious with no friends and nothing to do, and soon finds herself following her ward’s brother, Christopher Heron, around the castle to figure out why he’s so broodish and mysterious. Between the two of them, they manage to get into trouble with the Faeries living under the hill, and it’s a mad race to get out of the hill before Christopher becomes the Faeries next blood teind on All-Hallows Eve.
The writing in the book was enjoyable, and the tale itself was a cute one. But the Faeries don’t actually show up until two-thirds of the way through the book, and then after coming on the scene, they don’t do anything.
They sing, they dance (once), they silently form up in the hall once a day to eat lunch, and then disappear back off into their cave homes and sit, looking fabulous, in perpetual darkness, because while they’ve figured out how to use magic to make spells and drug humans, they haven’t figured out how to make a light that’s not a candle, and are only allowed to use said candles for important tasks like eating.
Since Kate is our view into this world, we’re only allowed to see what Kate sees, and since the only thing the Faeries make absolutely clear to her is that she’s less-than, she’s not privy to anything going on in the hill except washing their dishes.
The story also felt like it was afraid to go deeper. Everything seemed to sit on the surface, and I finished the book wanting a lot more out of this story.