Story: As the second title in author Kristy Cambron‘s Lost Castle Novel series, Castle on the Rise follows a similar construction to its predecessor, The Lost Castle. Three strong women are connected over generations by the ruins of a castle on the Irish Sea. In the 1790s, Maeve finds herself caring for a leader of the Irish resistance movement that is seeking the country’s independence. During the 1910s, Issy is struggling to find her place in a world torn apart by WWI and another attempt at Ireland’s freedom. As her life is turned upside down, she resolves to do everything she can to protect the people she loves. Finally, at present, Laine has just witnessed the marriage of her best friend in a beautiful castle in France. While she tries not to completely fall apart after a heart-wrenching diagnosis, a mysterious manor and brooding Irishman begin to mend her spirit.
The outline of ancient ruins had become a silent specter on the horizon – Gothic arches rising in mist and mossy walls that weren’t used to such heavy snow, the deep tawny stones standing as the lone witness over the glen.
Why: I love sequels. And series. I know a second (or third or fourth) book typically doesn’t live up to the first, but for me, if I truly enjoyed a book, I didn’t want it to end. Sequels and series of stories allow us as readers to get to know characters and extend their worlds just a little longer.
My expectations for Castle on the Rise were set comfortably. I knew the novel was not about all of the same characters as The Lost Castle, but that a few would remain, others would be expanded and new folks introduced. The Sleeping Beauty castle would make an appearance and a new castle would be brought in as well. The one bar I set pretty high was Cambron’s writing. That I did expect to be as enjoyable as the first novel, and I wasn’t disappointed.
How she wished one sunset over the water could change it all.
Opinion: Castle on the Rise is another wonderful, romantic, generational novel that sweeps readers through the beautiful Irish countryside! If you read my review of The Lost Castle, you’ll know I repeatedly referred to it as Hallmark-worthy. While this might hold true for Castle on the Rise, I felt like this title had more drama and situations didn’t seem quite as convenient. For me, there was more relatable pain in this novel than some of Cambron’s others, and I appreciate how she addresses these issues and helps her characters heal.
The writing is as beautiful as I have come to expect from Cambron, and the pace and construction are well crafted. Even more so than with The Lost Castle, I found myself struggling to choose a favorite narrative. Each time I said, “Yep, Maeve’s story is my favorite. Can we get more of her, please?” there would be an intriguing moment in Laine or Issy’s tale that would keep me reading another chapter…and then another.
Dublin breathed life. It was music. History. The River Liffey drifting beneath storied streets.
Recommendation: Probably goes without saying, but if you have read and enjoyed any of Cambron’s other books, you need to read the Lost Castle novels. Historical fiction lovers would probably enjoy this as well, although I do think it tips slightly farther to the romance side of the scale. This is not, however, the beach-read style romance that will make you blush. I appreciate Cambron’s talent for creating exciting romantic stories that I feel comfortable recommending to just about anyone. (I promise! My mom will read this too!)
Lastly, Castle on the Rise features very strong female lead characters. Anyone looking for stories about women who tackle conventional thought and stand up for themselves and others should appreciate Cambron’s characters. Some of what they overcome, however, could be troublesome to some readers as there is mention of rape, infertility, drug addiction and cancer. It is my opinion that Cambron handles these topics tactfully, but if there are any reservations with these topics, I would read with caution.
The wind whistled around the castle walls…centuries of story that breathed and lived on through the generations.
Journaling Prompts: (If you haven’t read any of my other reviews, I enjoy putting together a few questions about the book for those that have already read, or choose to read the book after viewing this post!)
- Each of the female characters in this novel are dealing with loss, right down to Laine’s daughter Cassie. Describe each of their losses. How do they cope? How far does each one come during the course of the novel?
- Hair is a significant symbol throughout the stories. How many incidents involving hair can you think of?
- Describe Castle Chryn. Do the words you use sound positive? What emotions are captured in this place?
- Let’s think about the men of the novel.
- How are Eoin, Sean and Cormac similar? Different? What about Rory, Levi, Quinn, or even Cian?
- Which of the male characters is most honorable? Dishonorable?
- How do Eoin, Sean and Cormac show their ladies their loyalty and steadfastness?
- What role does Levi and Issy’s history serve?
- Maeve, Issy and Laine each have a skill that they must hide in order to protect themselves. What is each skill, and how does each of their male partners encourage that skill?