The Caged Graves

caged gravesThe Caged Graves
by Dianne K. Salerni
Publisher: Clarion Books, 2013
ISBN: 978-0547868530
For Ages:


17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she trusted.

Inspired by a pair of real caged graves in present-day Catawissa, this historical YA novel weaves mystery, romance, and action into a suspenseful drama with human greed and passion at its core. The Caged Graves is a Junior Library Guild Selection.


“Salerni grounds her story in local Revolutionary War lore, creates a spirited heroine with enough self-reflection to feel convincing and crafts a suspenseful plot that skirts sensationalism. This unusual romantic mystery stands out.”
—Kirkus“Salerni constructs an absorbing, atmospheric, and dense work of historical fiction.”—Publishers Weekly“Readers who enjoy historical fiction, as well as mystery, will enjoy Salerni’s tale of witchcraft, hunt for lost treasure, and the real-life mystery that surrounds some grave sites from the Victorian era that were actually encaged.”

—VOYA, 4Q 4P J S

“This one’s perfect for a rainy night, a comfy blanket, and a cup of tea.”

“Immensely readable. . . Hand this fast-paced, creepy tale to fans of mysteries, forensics, paranormal and historical fiction, and the CSI TV series.”

“Salerni is a masterful storyteller who uses eloquent prose to craft a suspenseful historical mystery that is absolutely impossible to put down.”
—School Library Journal, starred review

Reading Guide/Activities

Discussion Questions

Related Non-Fiction Article

About the Author

DIANNE K. SALERNI is a fifth grade teacher in Chester County, Pennsylvania by day and a writer by night. She’s the author of YA historical novels, We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks) and The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH), and a forthcoming MG fantasy series, The Eighth Day (HarperCollins 2014). In her spare time, Dianne is prone to hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research.

Author’s Website and Blog

School Visit Information 

Dianne K. Salerni is available for school visits in person or by SKYPE. As a veteran teacher, she is accustomed to speaking in large or small groups and is comfortable hosting workshops on writing, reading, historical fiction. She specializes in connecting teen writers to other teen writers and resources through social media. Contact her at