Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Golden Braid: A Book Review

Today I am reviewing The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson.

About: The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.
Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.
Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again—this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.
The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight—Sir Gerek—Rapunzel in turn rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to this knight than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?
As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery is about to be revealed after seventeen years of lies. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?

 I'm a big fan of retellings. I've even written some myself. I'm also a huge fan of medieval settings, don't ask me why. Many of my story ideas live in medieval fantasy world. I read my first Melanie Dickerson book back around 2012 when I used money I won in a writing contest to buy some books I'd grown interested in. Since then I have had the pleasure of reading several of her written works, each seeming better than the one before (though I will always have a special place in my heart for The Captive Maiden.) As one of her releases this past year, The Golden Braid does not disappoint. 

 Rapunzel isn't the most common story you see retold. In fact, I never saw another version of it until the Disney film came out. After that, I did find one story based off of it. Dickerson does something unique with her retellings by placing them in historical medieval settings, making you wonder if they actually could have happened. This makes for a very interesting Rapunzel retelling as Rapunzel is not a story you would think of happening in real life. Dickerson writes it easily, seamlessly connecting it to other stories in her writing collection in a way that will make you want to read the predecessors if you haven't yet. 

 As far as characters go, I found them interesting and I admire the character development. Many of Dickerson's male leads have had a certain gruffness about them and I found Gerek to somewhat fit this category, but he was also a developed character struggling with some mighty heavy things. Rapunzel is a sweet and kind maiden, but she also faces her own problems including fear of men. As I mentioned in the first sentence, I really enjoyed the way Dickerson developed these characters from their initial traits of fear or even selfishness into something new and beautiful. 

 The plot was exciting and made me wonder just what might come next. I guessed a few things about it, partially due to another reader's excitement, but it did not ruin the story for me or the way my eyes teared up in a tender moment. Just when you think the characters are going to relax and take a break, a chapter or two goes by and something else exciting happens. I believe this story coincides with The Princess Spy, a story I haven't read yet, (sadly--its on my reading list!) so I would recommend reading that book first as there are some plot  points in The Golden Braid that might spoil it for you. 

 Overall, I enjoyed this story and am happy to add it to my Melanie Dickerson and fairytale retelling collection. 

Have you read anything by Melanie Dickerson?

~ a rambling author