Summers at Castle Auburn
by Sharon Shinn
5 out of 5 stars
Corie is the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, who visits the royal court every summer to be groomed and trained for life among the nobility. The rest of the year she lives with her peasant grandmother in a small village learning to be an herbalist healer. As Corie grows into a young woman, she begins to realize the depth of the court intrigue that surrounds her half-sister, Elisandra. She determines to do everything she can to help her sister. She soon discovers that there are others who need her help too; the magical elven people who are held as slaves in the castle.
I loved everything about this book! The magic, the world-building, the exciting plot, the writing style, the complex characters: everything is golden!
There is one scene where the Aliora, the elven people, give a music concert, and the descriptions of the music and its effect on Corie are wondrous. I am a musician, so I love when music plays a role in stories. This was so enchanting!
The magical skills of the elves are very interesting. When they touch you, they have an emotional impact on each person to make them calm and happy. It was such an imaginative addition that made every relationship and moral question more complicated.
The writing is powerful and emotional. The dialogue is excellent; there are some conversations that absolutely sparkle with wit and hidden meanings. The plot gradually weaves a spell around the reader until you are fully immersed in the story.
The best thing about this story is the complex characters. Everyone has so much depth, and many of the characters are very mysterious. Every relationship between characters is full of meaning, and multiple elements and motivations that are pulling the characters in different directions.
It’s so fascinating to watch as Corie grows up and her understanding deepens. She is a fantastic main character, with flaws and strength and calculated boldness. I love how honest she is, in a court full of people who are all lying to each other to gain power and status. That honesty combined with her genuine friendliness gathers staunch friends to her side.
There are a couple of sweet romances and many meaningful relationships that had me absolutely captivated! I love the slow burn and the hidden glances throughout the book. One of the best relationships is between Corie and her half-sister Elisandra. Those two are so close, and they really cherish one another.