Book Review: The Captive Maiden
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Review by Grace Olson
Yay! At long last, I was able to get my hands on a copy of Melanie Dickerson’s latest fairytale retelling, The Captive Maiden. A Cinderella/Ivanhoe mesh, this latest novel lived up to the standard set by Dickerson’s other books. So what did I think? Keep reading. 🙂
Taken from Amazon’s website synopsis of The Captive Maiden:
Happily Ever After …Or Happily Nevermore?
Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten—the boy she has daydreamed about for years—is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.
Since the first time I picked up Dickerson’s first novel, The Healer’s Apprentice, I’ve been hooked. So I wasn’t surprised when The Captive Maiden was another good read. The setting, as usual, was vivid and I had no trouble imagining myself walking the streets of medieval Hagenheim. But the real gems in this book are the characters.
The Hero: Remember Valten? The macho older brother from The Fairest Beauty? He’s back, and he’s still not overjoyed that his younger brother one-upped him with his fiancee. But when he sees Gisela, his disgruntlement towards his brother starts to fade. There is another issue he’s been struggling with lately, however. Valten has always been a fighter. He’s won almost every tournament he’s entered, in all the categories, but he’s found that that kind of life is losing its appeal. But if he’s not destined to be a tournament fighter, then what is he supposed to do? Could God have a plan for him other than what Valten has been pursuing for so long? As the story unfolds, we get to see a side of Valten that was not revealed before, a softer, kinder side that appears when Gisela is around and endears him to the reader and to the heroine. Valten is also the perfect hero. Strong, dedicated to protecting the heroine, and chivalrous. What’s not to like?
The Heroine: Gisela knows the life of near-slavery she’s been living with her cruel stepmother and stepsisters is not how her life is destined to be, and she is determined to escape. There is only one problem. Though she’s tried to cease caring about anything so that her stepmother cannot hurt her, she has one weak link in her armor. Her father’s horses. When a tournament is held in Hagenheim, Gisela sneaks off to attend. There she is singled out by Valten, and her life becomes forever changed. But her stepmother and Valten’s sworn enemy, Ruexner, are both determined to keep the two apart.
I loved how Dickerson spun out the story of Cinderella. Evfemia, the stepmother, made me want to slap her every time she opened her mouth. It was also fun to get to know Valten’s other siblings, such as Margaretha. I believe, if the rumors can be trusted, that Margaretha will be having a story of her own soon, and after getting a glimpse of her character, I can tell you, I can’t wait!
Both Gisela and Valten wonder whether God has a plan for their lives. Gisela isn’t sure, since she is a woman. And Valten has doubts because he wonders if God would truly answer him. Neither of them expect the answer they’re given.
About the Author
Biography from Amazon’s website: Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice and The Merchant’s Daughter, both Christy Award finalists, winner of The National Reader’s Choice Award for 2010’s Best First Book, and winner of the 2012 Carol Award in Young Adult fiction. She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee, and English to adults in Germany and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama. ~ To learn more about Melanie and her other books, visit her web page: http://www.melaniedickerson.com/
I was given The Captive Maiden this past Christmas, and though I’m just reviewing it now, I’ve been done with it for nearly a month. It only took me a few days to fly through this read, a usual occurrence whenever I read anything by Melanie Dickerson. Though it is not my favorite of her novels, I still would highly recommend this book, especially to lovers of sweet romance, medieval historical fiction, and young adult novels.
The Captive Maiden is available for download, check-out, or paper copy.