Castle of Refuge

Thomas Nelson. Jun. 2021. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780785234043.
Gr 7 Up–Audrey, the daughter of a viscount in 1300s Britain, dreams of a life where she can have a true purpose. More than that, though, she wants to be free of her older sister Maris’s cruelty. All their lives, Maris has tormented Audrey, but the situation becomes more serious when the girls come of marriageable age. Maris, who is jealous of Audrey’s prospects, purposely trips her sister so that Audrey falls into a fire and burns her face. Four years later, Audrey runs away from home rather than live with Maris, who is set to return from time spent at a convent. She finds refuge at Dericott Castle, which happens to be the home of the lord of the castle, to whom she was once intended for marriage. Lord Dericott has also had his chances for a good marriage damaged in the time that has passed, as his family was embroiled in a scandal and he lost an arm in battle. The two grow close during Audrey’s time at Dericott Castle and eventually a romance blooms, until Maris reappears and threatens her sister’s happiness once again. The main character and her love interest both engage in a fair amount of negative self-talk about their physical differences throughout the story. The villain, Maris, is described as “addled” and “crazed” which implies a mental illness and reinforces stereotypes of disabled people as being self-hating or villains. Characters are cued as white.
VERDICT A sweet, if flawed, romance with an era-appropriate Christian perspective.

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