Let me preface this book review with a bit of commentary regarding fairy tales. Right now, anything dealing with a fairy tale is my thing. I blame Once Upon a Time for making me focus on that. I also blame Once Upon a Time for ruining fairy tales for me. I will never be able to read another fairy tale and not think of Snow White as being Emma Swan’s mother or Prince Charming being Emma’s father. Captain Hook will always be a sexy Irishman, and Rumpelstiltskin is this evil, but kind of cool villain. So, all that being what it is, I had to choose a fairy tale story when it came up in the list of available books to request from Thomas Nelson/Booksneeze back in December. That also being said, I had to keep reminding myself that in all the classic fairy tales, Emma Swan is not best friends with all these heroines!
The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson is a retelling of the classic Cinderella story. Taking place in a province of Germany called Hagenheim in the early 15th century. Duke Wilhelm rules and his son, Valten, Lord Hamlin is our ‘prince’ to Gisela’s ‘Cinderella’.
Gisela lives with her nasty stepmother and two stepsisters just outside Hagenheim. By sheer luck, or the grace of God, she happens to meet Valten in the Marketplatz when he is disguised as a commoner, though she knows who he is. He invites her to the jousting tournament that is to be held the next day. Gisela comes to the tournament, despite her stepmother telling her she can’t go, and is crowned the Queen of Love and Beauty. There she will remain, until the tournament is over, but not before dancing at the ball with Valten.
However, evil forces are at play, from the evil stepmother who sells Gisela to Ruexner, a knight who has a vendetta against Valten! Will she escape? Not before being tricked, captured, rescued, captured, and rescued again! There is so much action and suspense hiding among the pages of this story. There are good friends and helpful monks who come to the rescue of both Gisela and Valten. And Gisela is far from a damsel in distress, though she is a damsel, and at times, she is in distress. (thank you Megara from Hercules for having that tidbit always in my brain) Gisela can fend for herself!
Does it all turn out okay in the end. Well I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but think. It is a Cinderella story. Usually the maiden does get the ‘prince’.
The Captive Maiden is a nail biting book. I had to keep jumping ahead of myself to make sure it was going to turn out okay because I was so certain everything was going to go wrong. My heart was in my throat several times. I’m not sure why I didn’t stop and remind myself that it’s a Cinderella story and of course it is going to turn out okay. Melanie Dickerson may have written this for teens, but honestly I feel it it is for teens and up. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Valten is quite gallant and believable as a struggling young man that has to settle down and is finally ready to when he meets the girl of his ‘dreams’. Gisela is feminine and charming, but still a strong woman character. None of that weakling damsels in distress. I love the one line where Gisela says that maybe she will rescue Valten instead of him rescuing her! It’s reminiscent of Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. And Ruexner is a truly horrible villain next to the stepmother.
I like how Melanie Dickerson kept the religious aspect from getting too much in the way of the story like some authors are wont to do. The inner prayers of both Valten and Gisela are so believable since they sound like what I would say to God when I am struggling with something. One doesn’t have long conversations with Him when in the middle of something happening. It’s short prayers and little thoughts. You can really feel the panic and frustration of Valten and Gisela. Also, the monk is quite believable and charming as a guide, giving wisdom and guidance to two struggling young people.
I think this was a charming book and I’m glad I could read and review it. I am now quite interested in reading Ms. Dickerson’s telling of Snow White in her book The Fairest Beauty. I would give the Captive Maiden 4 out of 5 stars.
This book was provided for me from Thomas Nelson books free of charge for a fair and honest review.