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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
If you like fairy tale-type fantasies, you owe it to yourself to read Sharon Shinn's Summers at Castle Auburn. The story centers around Coriel, a naïve bastard child with noble bloodlines who spends most of the year learning about herbs and potions while living with her grandmother, a hedge witch, in a country cottage. Her summers are spent with her half-sister Elisandra at Castle Auburn.
Life at the castle is idyllic for the two young girls. Coriel's days are filled with horseback riding, playing with her sister, dressing up in beautiful gowns and flirting with boys. Coriel even gets to go on an extended "hunting party" with her uncle Jaxon and a group of young men. The expedition is to the Faelyn River to hunt for aliora, which are fairy-like creatures with strange powers. The hunting party doesn't capture any aliora, but Coriel does witness a strange, secret meeting between her uncle and a beautiful aliora named Rowena.
As Coriel and Elisandra get older, the sad realities of noble life become more intensified. Elisandra, it seems, is to be married to Prince Byran, an egotistical womanizer who loves hunting wildlife -- including the harmless aliora. And Coriel realizes that she has been groomed for the exact same fate. She is a pawn to be married off to nobility.
Reading this book was an absolute joy. Shinn has not only created an intriguing world of wild contrasts, but also a handful of characters that you can't help but root for. And, as usual with fairy tales, the ending is a happy one -- although I'll guarantee that you'll be just as surprised as I was when I read the last chapter. This is a great book for fantasy fans of all ages, but considering the age of the protagonist and her ordeals, I think it's a perfect book for teenage girls. (Paul Goat Allen)