Something for fairy tale lovers :)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Title: The Captive Maiden
Release date: 19th of November 2013
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Romance, Historical, Fairy Tale
Published by: Zonderkidz
Pages: 304 pages in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle
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 learns the duke's son, Valten---the boy she has daydreamed about for years---is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way 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’m forever in love with the fairy tale of Cinderella, so I didn’t need much convincing to pick up this book. What I got, however, left me confused: have I simply read too many books with this theme that they’ve kind of lost their spark or, excluding the theme, it wasn’t really what I prefer and find enjoyable in romance and so the Cinderella element couldn’t hold it afloat?
Well, let’s start with the positive:
It did its own thing, Cinderella was the inspiration, but overall, it was a distinct book with its own take on the fairy tale equipped with a solid and familiar yet new storyline, characters and various other details. It had the fairy godmother (in a very loose sense of the word, applicable to multiple characters), the evil stepfamily, the daring prince, some extra friends and foe, the shoe (no pumpkin though, bummer), but all of them were not replicas from the original, instead, they were their own characters with loose ties to the initial fairy tale counterparts. I have to compliment the author with creating something different from the overused source material.
Despite my biggest con, which I will explain later, this story was quite mature with many of its story elements and overall tone, more so than I would have expected from it. There was also plenty of action to keep the reader busy, again more than I thought to find.
I also the setting, no imaginary kingdom here, thus it felt more realistic and genuine.
And now to the cons:
The actions of the characters and the most of all the dialogue just felt too juvenile to me. Yes, I understand that this is a book for younger audiences than me, but I read children and teen books all the time and I don’t have this issue with dialogue too often, but have noticed this problem with specific other authors as well. I was bothered by how simplistic, somewhat naïve and just too nice it was, the historic timeframe, what the characters were saying and how didn’t blend well with me.
The overall fast pace didn’t let off steam, but the constant setbacks in Valten and Gisela’s “adventure” were getting slightly annoying soon. Will they manage? Not again! They will manage this time? Bummer, stopped again! And so on.
The main couple were very endearing in their awkwardness, but, unfortunately, also somewhat boring, I would have liked a more sassy Cinderella. But they were really sweet and cute together, so I’m more or less satisfied with that.
Gisela – She was a kindhearted and generous girl. Overall, all you would expect from the classic Cinderella, but I also give props to her for being extra brave and I liked her light “I don’t care what others say or think attitude,” especially with her stepmother and sisters. As I mentioned, I would have loved to read about a more “spicy” version of Cinderella, but Gisela was a decent heroine – she fit perfectly for this take of the fairy tale.
Valten – A really relentless and daring hero, that’s for sure! The perfect knight, but what made him more charming were his insecurities. Again, slightly dull, but I think all his suffering and pain made up for what he lacked in having a colorful character.
I think teenagers would like really like this, especially if they’re fond of fairy tales in general. It was a memorable take on Cinderella, but some aspects of the execution were lacking for me. But, since I’ve read a lot of praise for this book, I’m the minority and don’t mind that at all.