Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publication Date: November 2013
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fantasy
Book Summary (from Goodreads)
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 meets the duke’s son, Valten–the boy she has daydreamed about for years–and learns he is throwing a ball, she vows 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.
I am in love with Melanie Dickerson’s retellings of fairy tales. The latest installment, THE CAPTIVE MAIDEN, is another version of Cinderella. It is set in the same world as the other books, which is nice. I enjoy the overlap between the characters and the world that continues from one book to another.
One of the things I like best about this series is that they are retold in a realistic medieval setting, without magic. In that respect they are a nice change, when retellings often feature magic in a different form (not that I don’t love those as well!)
The main characters, Valten and Gisela, are both well drawn characters who have their own problems, and I think in this case their personalities and problems are realistic. Valten has spent the last two years trying to soothe his wounded pride. In a previous book, THE FAIREST BEAUTY, his younger brother steals the betrothed he was duty-bound to marry. While he admits he didn’t love her, it hurt his ego that the brother steals her. Now, two years later, he’s a tournament champion and no longer finding it the life he thought. He’s restless and unsure what his purpose is.
Gisela is living as a servant under her evil stepmother’s thumb. Unloved and lonely, she has learned to take solace in her father’s dwindling stock of horses and in convincing herself that she doesn’t care about anything. In allowing herself to care for the memory of Valten as a teenager when he bought his horse, and then in truly caring about him after he helps her in the town square, she opens herself to hurt and romance.
The balls where Cinderella appears and no one recognize her are not featured. Instead, the author handles it in a realisitic fashion. I enjoyed that Gisela wasn’t a simpering pushover, but struggled with her feelings. However, I was disappointed that she became so “soft” so quickly, and the way she is kidnapped in the middle of the book I found hard to relate to her character.
The ending was a bit long at times, and I will admit that I skimmed a few parts. However, the character development was well done, and I liked that Gisela did have a backbone.
The book does have strong Christian themes, so if you don’t like that, be forewarned. If you do enjoy Christian fiction, they were well done and not at all overbearing. The fit the time and theme of the story.
Overall, the book was well done and enjoyable. It is a quick read, and fans of fairy tale retellings should enjoy it, as will Christian fiction and historical fantasy fans.
Where to Find the Book
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-captive-maiden-melanie-dickerson/1114852664?ean=9780310724414&itm=1&usri=9780310724414&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1&r=1,%201
Book was purchased by reviewer.