Common core
Common core

The Castle Behind Thorns

By Merrie Haskell

This magical adventure set in an enchanted castle surrounded by thorns tells a tale of the power of memory and story, forgiveness and strength, and the true gifts of craft and imagination. By the acclaimed author of The Princess Curse and Handbook for Dragon Slayers, this original fantasy is perfect for fans of Gail Carson Levine, Karen Cushman, and Shannon Hale.

When blacksmith apprentice Sand wakes up in a ruined castle, he has no idea how he got there, but the thorny brambles that surround the walls prevent him from leaving. As he begins to fix up the castle in order to survive, everything he touches somehow works better than it should. Then, as he continues to explore, Sand discovers the castle’s secrets, including its long lost heir, Perrotte. Together they must fully repair the broken castle if they ever want to leave.

  • Grade level: 6
  • Interest Level: 3-8
  • Guided Reading Level: W


Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics. Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

How does the structure of a text contribute to the meaning and style? RL.6.5

Compare and contrast the structure of The Castle Behind Thorns with another modernized fairytale. How does the structure of each contribute to meaning and style? RL.6.5, W.6.2

Why do writers of fiction use figurative language in stories? Identify examples of figurative language and discuss how specific word choice impacts meaning and tone. RL.6.4, SL.6.1
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Imprint: Katherine Tegen Books
  • Format: Hardcover
  • On Sale: 11/30/-0001
  • ISBN: 9780062008190
  • ISBN 10: 0062008196
  • ISBN 13: 9780062008190
  • Pages: 336
  • Trim Size: 5.50 x 8.25 in
  • Subcategory:
  • Juvenile Fiction / Fairy Tales & Folklore / General
  • Juvenile Fiction / Action & Adventure / General
  • Juvenile Fiction / Girls & Women

The Horn Book"Haskell effortlessly weaves together internal and external forces, leading to a tense climax. Subtle parallels to 'Sleeping Beauty' are omnipresent, but Sand and Perrotte's work of restoring the castle, avenging old wrongs, and forgiving once-bitter enemies takes its own, novel course."

Publishers Weekly (starred review)"Exploring a range of weighty subjects, from the horror of war to the difficulty of forgiveness, Haskell makes every subplot and character count, reinforcing the story's elaborate metaphorical and thematic structure."

School Library Journal (starred review)"The developing relationship between the two main characters is portrayed realistically; it's often as prickly as the thorns that surround them. Fans of Gail Carson Levine's and Shannon Hale's fairy tale adaptations will enjoy the adventure and mystery here."

Rae Carson, author of the Girl of Fire and Thorns seriesThe Castle Behind Thorns is a graceful and enchanting fantasy that celebrates the healing magic of kindness, friendship, and love. I was utterly charmed.

Robin McKinley, Newbery Medalist author of THE HERO AND THE CROWN and THE BLUE SWORD"A warm and lovely story about friendship, magic, the long shadow of the past, and blacksmithing."

Catherine Gilbert Murdock, acclaimed author of Dairy Queen and Princess BenUtterly magical . . . a fairy tale about healing a broken castle, a broken soul, a broken country, and a broken heart.

Ally Watkins, Youth Services Librarian, Central Mississippi Regional Library SystemSand and his passion will resonate with readers of all ages-I adored him just as much as my young patrons will.

Kenny Brechner, DDG BooksellersA subtle and engaging parable of healing, The Castle Behind Thorns offers its readers a window into the human metaphor which lies at the roots of fantasy and magic.

Faith Hochhalter, Children's Book Specialist, Changing Hands BookstoreI loved everything about this book! From the characters to the themes, it all worked together to form a really fun and interesting story. I think it would make an excellent book club book, it just lends itself to detailed discussion.

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