The Captive Maiden
Christian Version of Cinderella, Beautifully Done!
As much as I have enjoyed DickersonÃ¢ÂÂs books and The MerchantÃ¢ÂÂs Daughter holding a special place in my heart, The Captive Maiden has easily become my favorite book by this beloved author. The cover alone captivates the reader and when opened the story grabs you from the first page.
Even though I love the cover of this book, the man in the background didnÃ¢ÂÂt appeal to me so I chose an actor who takes on ValtenÃ¢ÂÂs identity instead. Valten has been a champion his whole life, trying to prove himself in every area knowing his younger brother is the charmer of the two. Since Valten isnÃ¢ÂÂt comfortable around the ladies and isnÃ¢ÂÂt much of a talker, he finds that being active is more his style. I enjoyed his description of being a tall and intimidating warrior yet he is respectful, honorable, and loves his family deeply. More than once he reflects on how his sisters respond to him to help guide his treatment of Gisela. The longer he knows Gisela, the more he wants to please her. Even if this man doesnÃ¢ÂÂt know how to express himself smoothly, I found his heart to be utterly heroic and humble.
Gisela meets Valten when they are just children, but after her father dies her life becomes enslaved to her stepmother and stepsisters. In childhood, she dreams of the young man Valten is and how he gets along with the horse he purchased from her father, as she becomes older she no longer has such silly notions. The one thing Gisela loves more than anything is her horses. Then she has an encounter with Valten and there is an instant connection between them. Valten feels protective of Gisela right away and the need to protect her only grows more intensely throughout the story.
I thought of the movies A KnightÃ¢ÂÂs Tale and Ever After while reading this book. I was utterly surprised at the chances Gisela takes to see Valten compete in the tournament, but I loved her all the more for it. She greatly teaches me that some risks are well worth it. One of my FAVORITE characters in the story is easily ValtenÃ¢ÂÂs sister, Margaretha!! She just adds the perfect dose of lightness to the intensity and awkwardness Gisela and Valten find themselves in more than once, her chattiness (I think I just made that word up) is perfectly done. She makes one mistake in the story not realizing how grave the situation is, but she more than makes up for it.
More elements I loved in this story:
The villain, one of the knights, is the perfect challenge to ValtenÃ¢ÂÂs character. Even though I despised the bad guy and every action he took to defy Valten, heÃ¢ÂÂs an extremely well written villain that brings the right amount of danger to the story. Valten and Gisela are constantly tested with the evil they face, but it only brings them closer to each other and their faith.
I truly loved GiselaÃ¢ÂÂs best friend, Ava, the friar that Gisela meets, and ValtenÃ¢ÂÂs family. A good book should always have strong main characters, but an exceptionally good book will also have minor characters that enhance the story even more. Dickerson does a stand up job with each of them.
This book is all about trusting Christ and keeping Him close in prayer. Since Gisela and Valten are both believers and both find themselves in dangerous situations, they must rely on prayer more than their own strength (although they have plenty of both). As they look to Christ in their dilemmas, IÃ¢ÂÂm reminded to do the same with my own. They also see their prayers answered several times in crucial moments and it just made me love the story even more.
There are characters I loved from The Fairest Beauty that make an appearance in this bookÃ¢ÂÂ¦..it was like Snow White meeting Cinderella, sigh.
Gisela has many insecurities, but in the midst of danger she is able to overcome them. Valten also finds himself feeling inadequate in certain situations and must overcome his doubts with Gisela. He learns to stop comparing himself to his brother, stop proving himself in the kingdom, and letting God be his strength in diverse circumstances. Gisela yearns to protect him and they both make sacrifices for one another. Gisela even teases Valten saying maybe sheÃ¢ÂÂll be the one to rescue him, I just loved that! I truly enjoyed witnessing them get past these burdens and find the real strength within themselves. Their first kiss happens when they are tied up and blindfolded, but it was appropriate and enjoyable because they are both humble warriors.
Everything in this book made sense to me, was appealing for me, and every disaster this couple overcomes made the story that much more precious to me. I also fell in love with each dress Gisela wore, she appreciated the chance to wear them and she outshines every woman in the story effortlessly. Even though she is greatly abused by her stepmother, the story does not focus on that abuse and very little detail is described. However, Dickerson brilliantly makes it clear how evil the stepmother is without glorifying this mistreatment. I was taken into this story as Gisela fights for her freedom, trusts in God, and even finds the strength to forgive all who have wronged her. IÃ¢ÂÂm grateful for Gisela and for this author who beautifully writes her story.
I highly recommend The Captive Maiden for readers of all ages, but especially for those who enjoy young adult Christian novels as well as those who appreciate fairy tale retellings with an extra dose of adventure, faith, justice, spunk and beautiful heroes. This book will capture your heart, inspire you, captivate you, keep you cheering for its main characters, and illustrate a protective and loving God who is fierce and relentless in pursuing usÃ¢ÂÂ¦..believers and unbelievers alike.
I want to give a special THANK YOU to the author (and Zondervan) for the complimentary review copy provided. Thanks for thinking of me and allowing me to review this incredible book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.
November 29, 2013
This book is AWESOME!
A great teen read; this book is very well written.
November 27, 2013
Five stars and a BIG thumbs up to Melanie Dickerson for succeeding, yet again, at turning a classic fairytale into an adventurous page-turner!! One thing that really stood out for me was how spiritually connected this book is, and that was one area where I found her other books to be quite lacking! DEFINITELY a great addition:) This story brings alive the sometimes heart-stopping experience of putting everything in God's hands! With intricately detailed, fantastic imagery, I savored every sentence, and yet longed to look ahead to see what surprise the next page held for me!! And what a perfectly matched couple:) Valten the strong and protective warrior. And Gisela the fierce and courageous, yet delicate and graceful damsel-in-distress. I guarantee by the time you finish this book you will be crying for MORE! As one last insight- I love how Melanie connects all the characters in her various books, for example: Duke Wilhelm (from The Healer's Apprentice) is the father of Gabe (from The Fairest Beauty) and Valten (from The Captive Maiden). That's just one really neat aspect I took note of:) For my honest opinion: The Fairest Beauty has to be my personal favorite!:( But just let me say that this book is QUALITY and WORTH THE READ!!:)
~Thanks a BUNCH to Zondervan for this AMAZING book in exchange for my honest review! I feel very honored:)~
November 21, 2013
Another excellent fairytale retelling from Dickerson!
I have been looking forward to Valten's tale ever since I read the final pages of The Fairest Beauty, and I was not disappointed in the least! Set two years after the closing of Gabe and Sophie's story, Valten has just returned home after a long absence. He meets a beautiful, charming, girl in the marketplace and even after so brief a meeting, he finds his heart drawn to her somehow.
I love Valten's integrity and his chivalry. He's simply the kind of hero you want to root for. Another character I really loved is Gisela. She's sweet, compassionate and has somehow managed to ignore or rebuff all the filthy lies thrown at her for almost a decade. The two together are an excellent pair.
If there's one thing that, as a writer, struck me, it's that nothing ever happened easily in this story. I don't want to give anything away, but it did seem like if something could go wrong it did. Though it sounds crazy, I like it when characters are faced with a challenge. After all, what is a story without an impossible task?
To sum up, I love what Dickerson did with her own Cinderella tale. I also enjoy any chance Dickerson offers to revisit Valten's family, and I hope we'll see them again. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great fairytale retelling with a Christian twist.
I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!
November 20, 2013