February 3, 2016

Fresh from the Bookshelf~ The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson {Book Review}

I have always enjoyed a good fairy tale. I also love "twisted" tales where an author takes a traditional well-known story and then gives it a new coat of paint. There are quite a few of them out right now as part of the Young Adult literature genre, and I have read a number of them. When I had the chance to review The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson as part of the Fiction Guild, I was very eager to read this second book in the Medieval Fairy Tale Romance series!
The Golden Braid (Book Review)

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About the Book

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson is a delightful retelling of the beloved story Rapunzel. This version of the fairy tale is set in Medieval times which is a perfect setting. In this version, Rapunzel (age 17) is not a damsel in distress! Rather she can throw a knife better than most men! She also can paint beautifully and sing the beasts to sleep. But there are two things she can't do: learn to read and marry.

Her mother is fiercely devoted to Rapunzel and suspicious of every man who even takes a second glance at her daughter. She constantly is warning her daughter that no man should ever be trusted--and upon learning her
daughter is to receive a marriage offer from a local village farmer--she packs up all their belongings and they move away...again. Rapunzel is used to their constant roving due to her mother's unusual obsession about her not getting married. This time, instead of the typical small village, her mother moves them to Hagenheim, a large city.

On their journey, they are set upon by thieves, but rescued by Sir Gerek. Unfortunately, further down the road, Rapunzel has to rescue the same knight after he suffers from a terrible injury. He believes he has a debt to repay, so Rapunzel decides to ask for the one thing she wants more than anything...to learn how to read!

Can Rapunzel take control of her own destiny now? What about Sir Gerek? Could he ever look fondly on a village girl when he's a knight---and one who needs to marry well? And what happens when she discovers she's been living in a world of lies for the last seventeen years? Will Rapunzel have a happily ever after?

My Thoughts on the Book

The Golden Braid was a delightful read! It was a very clever take on the story of Rapunzel and yet still managed to stay true to the story we are all familiar with. I loved that the word of God was worked gently into the story as the book that Sir Gerek teaches Rapunzel to read from. There is also a bit of biblical history as we see how the Bible wasn't all put together during this time period. I enjoyed how this wasn't the traditional "fluff" style of fairy tale--there was mystery, adventure, and even some rather exciting fight scenes and plot twists!

I love the backstory that we are given throughout the book relating to Rapunzel's past and her unusual relationship with Gothel her mother. I enjoyed the focus on her character as a young woman, over her beauty. Sir Gerek was a good character as well. I felt that his backstory itched to have more to it, but I think the author explained it well.

Several of the characters in this story are actually characters in OTHER books by this author (The Hagenheim Family Saga set of 4 books), so I think I would definitely prefer to have read all her previous books, just to come into it with a better understanding about how they all fit together--but that in NO way takes away from this book at all! It can stand on it's own feet very well.

I give this book a very solid four stars! The story caught my attention very quickly and I was determined to continue reading it throughout the day and found it to be simply delightful. I think this is a great story for any girl (or boy for that matter!) who is looking for a fairy tale that is chock full of adventure! I would put this story as for an older level reader, just because the mystery and intrigue is written for that age level. I would definitely recommend it, and I think that I'm even going to see if I can find the other book in this Medieval Fairy Tale series The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, as well as find the books in her Fairy Tale Romance Series (aka. Hagenheim Family SagaThe Merchant's Daughter, The Healer's Apprentice, The Captive Maiden, The Fairest Beauty, and The Princess Spy and snag them! Maybe even request it for our library, because I think they would be a great addition!

I also learned she has a couple new books coming out this year--The Beautiful Pretender on May 17 (another book in the Medieval Fairy Tale Romance series) and A Spy's Devotion on Feb. 9th (a new series called The Regency Spies of London).

The Golden Braid
by Melanie Dickerson
ISBN# 978-0718026264
Available as Hardcover and Kindle

This was a simply delightful book and I had no idea that this was the very same author that I had been eyeballing for quite awhile. I am so happy that this author was as good as I hoped she would be, and I can't wait to get my hands on more of her books!
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