Slip back to the time of fairy tale days in this fourth novel of Melanie Dickersons enthralling medieval series. Valten, the eldest son from Hagenheim Castle, has bested other knights in tournaments but has not succeeded in finding the person he wants to marry until he meets Gisela, a lovely young woman forced to fulfill a servants role by her cruel stepmother. Is there a chance for these two to find a happy union? Valtens rival uses Gisela to achieve revenge over him. Captivity draws the couple into a closer relationship, but will they survive so they can wed? The adventure offers breathtaking danger along with some sweet moments. A fine addition to the collection, The Captive Maiden can also be enjoyed without having read the others.
I decided to read this before Mrs Dickersons latest book The Princess Spy to catch up- although her titles are really standalone books and you dont need to know what happened in one to follow the other. As what it is advertised to be a Young Adult Fairy Tale romance it generally delivers well- though it must be admitted that some parts seemed corny or else the characters and decisions just seemed silly to the point of being almost painful for the audience, simply because they fell for ploys that were so glaringly obvious.
As with the others the setting is Medieval, this time the second decade of the 15th century (1400s), yet another reviewer remarked that the setting did not seem as authentic as it did in the others. In some ways, Im inclined to agree, but not for the same reasons. The mention of coachmen was the main ones that seemed out of place- more at home on the seventeenth or eighteenth century that the fifteenth. Now carriages did exist in the Middle Ages- but they were really little more than covered wagons and quite cumbersome affairs- not like the smaller, lighter and faster coaches of later centuries, which is what the description of them in this novel made them sound like.
Then there were the jousting scenes- which others have criticized for various reasons- such as them being themed around a Queen of Love and Beauty. That was not an issue for me, I suppose as someone who has been adaptations of Ivanhoe which these passages were inspired by.
My main gripe, as an Englishwoman who has seen real jousting and tournaments a number of times, was the mention of combatants helmets flying off.
I have never seen such a thing happening at a joust- it would seem to defeat the protective purpose of helmets if they came off with one blow. From what I have seen they were quite securely fastened- and jousters of the 15th century usually wore padded doublets under their armour for extra protection- so the notion of stabbing naked skin under joins in the armour did not entirely ring true either.
The problems aside, and without wanting to sound too critical The Captive Maiden was a good story, which clearly echoed the Cinderella fairy tale, and sometimes resembled Ever After with Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston- but without the fake accents. It was good to see Valten, eldest son of Rose and Wilhelm, finally coming into his own, confronting some of his demons, and finding happiness, as well as some important messages about overcoming pride and bitterness. Gisela was a typical heroine- though I felt she did not always live up to what Valten said about her being brave.
There were, inevitably, kissing scenes, but the characters didnt seem quite so consumed or obsessed with it as they do in some stories, so it was perhaps a little less fluffy on the romance side than other such novels. There was enough romance, excitement and intrigue to keep even an adult wanting to read to the end. I did like the way that issues surrounding Medieval marriage laws and customs were dealt with towards the end (albeit in in the manner or a rather sudden realization), rather than the author just falling into the trap of assuming forced marriage was normal or acceptable.
Overall, this was a sweet inspirational story, with a few issues, but generally worth the read. I would recommend for younger reads above the ages of 11 or so, with adult discretion.
This might be a young adult book but any woman who loves a good fairytale, or historical romance will adore this book.
This is the first book I have read by Melanie but I am planning on reading more. If the others are as good as this I may have found another author I need to keep my eye out for.
If you know the story of Cinderella then you get the general idea for this book but it is different. Gisela and Valten meet before the ball and Valten is smitten by Gisela. Valten is a strong hero who will do what it takes to protect Gisela, he does this even before he knows her. Sigh.
You will see Gisela emerge from a scared young woman into a woman who blossoms under the love of a hero. Just as we do under the love of our Savior.
I had a feeling of anticipation the whole time I read this book. I couldn't wait to see how Melanie would handle the storyline and the love between the two main characters is heart-twisting.
This is a must-read for any historical romance lover and a great read for your teen who enjoys reading as well.
A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The absolute BEST Cinderella story I've ever read!
March 31, 2014
WOW! What a surprise!
I never saw this coming. In fact, I almost didn't read The Captive Maiden because I had downloaded a sample of it for Kindle_
The way Gisela's stepmother treats her is just so harsh - from the very first page (and this is where you first see the excellence of Melanie Dickerson's writing), I could never have expected just how exceptional the rest of the story would be.
But I am thrilled that I won a copy! Winning a copy compelled me to read it so that I could review it and support a fellow author.
And I am SO glad I did!
This is a wonderful story! Melanie Dickerson did a great job of molding a popular fairy tale into an inspirational story for teens that, I think, will appeal to adults as well.
It's also an answer to a prayer since I am hesitant about letting my daughter read more traditional fairy tales - which focus so much on magic. Now I can collect the previous 3 books Melanie has written and any more that are yet to come.
Melanie Dickerson has taken out the magic and weaved God into every part of this story. So instead of confusing teens, Melanie Dickerson offers hope and truth.
What a blessing!
Disclaimer: I won a free copy of this book. THANK YOU Grace! I was not required to review the book but I have to share thoughts on such a wonderful book!
Melanie has fashioned yet another beautiful, fresh fairy tale story in her newest novel. However, this reader began with a skeptical attitude about the worthiness of Gisela's prince charming but not for long. Valten, who grudgingly stepped aside in the last story for true love, came to handsome, valiant, truly heroic life as he looked past Gisela's circumstances & straight into her oh-so-lovely heart. Yet, the possibility of a happily-ever-after seems doomed at every turn. Melanie's creative spin includes the essentials of any Cinderella story, an evil stepmother, spiteful stepsisters, a ball & beautiful gown, then adds a gold digger, an old enemy bent on revenge, as well as, a lovely peek into the kind of family Gisela's father would have wanted her to have all along. There are no lack of enemies out to destroy their chance of building a future together, & Gisela fears she'll end up spending her adult life dreaming of what might've been while she's imprisoned by a different but no less evil monster for the sake of sparing her beloved's life. Yet even if they overcome the impossible odds & both survive, the taunts reverberating through Gisela's head from those wretched, loveless years threaten to destroy them from the inside out. When coupled with Valten's less than poetic ability to communicate his feelings & stubborn unwillingness to depend on God, hope begins to slip away. Then they stumble upon an unlikely champion, but can he save them from the internal & external darkness before they're crushed? I read this enthralling tale in one day because I couldn't wait to find out what happened. An extra delight came through the reappearance of familiar characters & getting a closer glimpse of Valten's family, Margaretha in particular with her kind & generous spirit so like her mother's. Another bonus - you can fearlessly share Melanie's wholesome, God-honoring books with your teenage daughter while actually enjoying the stories yourself!