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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.
Melanie Dickerson’s works have been on my “To Read” list of books for quite a while now, but after reading The Captive Maiden, I cannot believe I put them off for so long. As a fan of fairy tales (admittedly, Walt Disney’s in particular), I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience with Dickerson’s writings. The Captive Maiden introduces a new spin on the classic story of Cinderella. While Dickerson retains the essentials – the beautiful yet underappreciated maiden, her chivalrous “Prince Charming,” the wicked stepmother and mean-spirited stepsisters – she refreshes the narrative within a distinct and dramatic medieval context (happily reminding me of A Knight’s Tale in certain moments), adding an unrelenting evil villain and subsequent kidnapping. The mounting obstacles and suspenseful twists and turns, though peppered with encouraging, inspirational moments of introspection on purpose and forgiveness, kept me questioning how Gisela and Valten could possibly find their “happily ever after” ending – I could not stop reading until I knew the answer! I definitely recommend The Captive Maiden, especially for fans of fairy tale retellings, and I look forward to reading more from Melanie Dickerson. Thanks to Zondervan, I received an advanced review copy of this novel to read and review honestly.