Friday, June 24, 2016

Reasons to Read: Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn

Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
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Series: No
Release date: April 1st, 2001
Publisher: Ace
Length: 342 pages
Source: purchased
Rating: *dreamy, contented sigh*

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...

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 not reading 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.


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


  1. Oh my goshhhhh this sounds SO GOOD! All the things that I love!! I remember Sarah J Maas recommending these books actually (one of Sharon Shinn's other series) and my interest was piqued. Now that you've made all these EXCELLENT, COMPELLING POINTS I have to read it. I like the sound of cozy and princes and herb witches.

  2. This sounds amazing!!!!!!!!! Made me thing of the (kind of steampunk) Clockwork Dagger! *_*
    Also: the gifs you used are PERFECT! Mission accomplished: I want to read that book right now!

  3. THIS SOUNDS AMAZING. I really want to read this now! I've been on the lookout for a charming fantasy and this sounds perfect! *_*

  4. I basically NEED this book in my life now, because it sounds amazing! I'm planning on reading a different Sharon Shinn book (from one of her series), but I'm going to add this to my queue too :D

  5. This review was so great! I loved all the memes. I just finished reading the book and had to reread again to get all the details. And that's the point. The book is full of details and delicious foreshadowing that is easy to miss. I loved Corie and her spunk and how good and kind she is. Elisandra, I'm speechless. Don't mess with that girl! And Kent, so caring and thoughtful and attentive. He's like the tortoise in the story, slow and steady wins the race. So much love for Kent! And Corie, too.


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