The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

Book - The Captive MaidenAbout the Book:
Author: Melanie Dickinson
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: November 2013
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Series: Fairy Tales – book 4
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult/Teen, Fantasy
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

Review: There’s something comforting in experiencing a retelling of a beloved piece of literature, no matter the form. Dozens of writer’s have been tasked with doing this very thing. No one in the Christian author world is more widely known than Melanie Dickerson, and having already respun Snow White and Beauty & the Beast, she has taken on Cinderella. This version introduces us to the kind-hearted but ill-treated Gisela. Ridiculed by her stepsisters and stepmother since her father’s death Gisela is treated as little more than a servant and she lives to do her stepmothers bidding. This hasn’t kept her from dreaming or wondering about the boy who once bought her father’s prized horse, Valten, the duke’s son. With many years between their first meeting and now, Gisela and Valten again meet but will fate again intervene to keep them strangers?

No matter how well I like a specific genre, I can be objective. Sadly, that is my lot with The Captive Maiden. Prior to reading it, I was predisposed to loving it and indeed the book starts out really well – I instantly liked Gisela, and how the meeting between she and Valten played out. In this version, there is no expectation or worry over when and how Valten would discover Gisela (Cinderella) has lied to him or is simply playing a role just to be close to him, which would then turn things sideways Valten. That approach is unique and very much a reason this version works “better” – because here there is no need for lies to come between the would-be couple and the story isn’t as “worrisome” to read because of that. Sadly, I am not sure I can say there is much else I adored about the book.

Of course, the costuming descriptions were lovely, and there were some “exciting” moments. Page after page chronicled some jousting matches switching off from Gisela’s worry and Valten’s thoughts and in my opinion that grew wearying. Especially when considering that Gisela rarely knew Valten beyond a child’s memory. I realize there does have to be some leeway since this is a fairytale and those are meant to break rules and take us on an unexpected, imaginative journey. I think what made the reading here a bit harder was that there were too many mash-ups of “contemporary” and historical. There were portions when I “felt” like I was in the period and then there were sections of dialogue that seemed “too” modern and were working against the frame of mind the historical novel should have on its reader. Because of these impressions, I just didn’t wind up pegging this as a favorite read. Just the same, I also am not sorry I read it. It has some charming qualities and I admire an author who uses the familiar and lets readers see it differently. That is what Dickerson has done with this Cinderella re-telling.

Anyone who enjoys this Fairy Tale series will probably like The Captive Maiden. It’s a wholesome look at a classic fable and that speaks volumes.

Synopsis: 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.

Sincere thanks to the publisher, Zondervan for a complimentary galley copy of this novel for the purpose of reviewing this novel.


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