Review: Castle of Sighs

Castle of Sighs
Castle of Sighs by Jennifer Murgia
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some secrets cannot be kept–in life or in death. Months have passed since Rune has heard a single whisper from her long-dead mother, the great witch of Bavaria. But the absence of one evil has only made room for another. After rightfully inheriting her ancestral home, Pyrmont Castle, Rune settles into a quiet life taking care of two orphans left in the wake of the terrible witch hunt that claimed dozens of lives in the nearby village. As the days grow colder, the castleâs secrets beckon, and something darker seems to have been awakened, as well. Rune finds herself roaming where no one has set foot in a long time. In the bowels of the fortress is a locked room full of memories that hang like cobwebs–shelves stacked with jars, strange specimens, putrid liquids, and scrolls of spells. Rune is undeniably drawn to what she finds there, and she begins to dabble in the possibilities of magic, hoping she will find a cure for the strangeness overwhelming the castle. And the key may lie in the dark forest she once called home and the boy she thought she knew.

Set about a year after the events of Forest of Whispers, Castle of Sighs has a vastly different tone to it. Where the previous one was about the witch trials, the sequel has a more gothic theme – with the first half of the book spent in Rune exploring the castle she has called home, playing house with Laurentz and two abandoned kids. The other half mostly contains flashback of the history of Pyrmont, leading to a very sudden and too simple ending. The writing was on point in the first half, with the spooky atmosphere befitting a German fairytale, the creepy kid, and most of all, the old looming castle and it’s mysterious secret room. But by the second half, the plot seems to go nowhere and there is a distinct lack of action to make up for the languid pace of the first half.

Moreover, the problems plaguing the first one continue to persist in this one – irrational actions of characters. Rune knew the castle is dangerous but still continues to live there. She hasn’t explored it for over a year but now suddenly does. Matilde never told her about the past, which seems stupid since the castle was sealed for a reason. Also, no motivation given for Matilde to help Laurentz’s mother. While all these actions pull together the plot, there is no logical reason behind them happening. And when the whole story could have been avoided with the simple fact of letting a witch train and embrace her bloodline, it makes for a weak story plot. In conclusion, the story comes together well, and is entertaining, but has a lot of plot holes.

Received a free galley from Spencer Hill Press via Netgalley; this does not influence my opinions or review.

Previous books in series

Forest of Whispers

View all my reviews

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