Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book Review: The Golden Braid

The Golden Braid. Melanie Dickerson. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I definitely enjoyed reading Melanie Dickerson's The Golden Braid. I really should treat myself and reread all of her fairy tale romances. I think a second reading would help me see all the possible connections between the books. (The books can stand alone, however.)

The Golden Braid is a retelling of Rapunzel. I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would. I loved, for example, how Rapunzel does not start off locked away in a tower like you might expect. Rapunzel's "mother" does seem odd from the start, but, her slip into definite madness comes with the passage of time--over the course of half the book. She does not come across as PURE EVIL from page one. Though, of course, one does know it IS coming sooner or later.

Rapunzel's character was nicely done. Readers learn early on that Rapunzel is eager to learn anything and everything. Well, everything perhaps midwifery! Rapunzel, more than anything perhaps, wants to learn to read and write. Unfortunately, Rapunzel and her mother rarely stay in any town or village long enough for Rapunzel to go about seeking a teacher. Her mother knows that Rapunzel's dreams lean towards learning and not towards romance. But that doesn't stop her from lecturing her daughter day and night about the evils of the opposite sex. Rapunzel holds hope that they will eventually travel to a village or town and her mother will consent to her learning to read and write. It hasn't happened yet, but, Rapunzel holds onto her dream.

The novel opens with mother and daughter about to move again. On their journey, the two are attacked. They are "saved" by a knight. Readers can very well guess that this knight will be THE KNIGHT to save Rapunzel from her tower-fate. But predictability can be a great thing in a romance, particularly a fairy tale adaptation. Gerek is his name, I believe. And the two do not fall instantly in love with one another, which is a good thing, in my opinion. Rapunzel has heard a million bad things about guys, and, she's not ready to give her heart away within seconds of meeting a handsome knight. Rapunzel is curious, but, curious for all the right reasons. He seems smart, well-traveled, like he might know how to read and write in multiple languages. Perhaps he can tell her more about where they're heading, and if there is someone that might be willing to teach her. The two remain guarded with each other. He puts up boundaries because he doesn't want temptations. Boundaries are second nature with Rapunzel.

After Rapunzel ends up saving HIM, he ends up with two broken bones, and a long duration in bed; he stays at a monastery to recuperate. She ends up working--cleaning the women's rooms--in exchange for lessons. Her big dream of learning to read and write, well, it gets off to a good start. Good but oh-so-grumpy start.

But the lessons end up being a BIG, BIG, BIG secret from her mother, and, when she does find out--we all knew it was coming--threats are made. Rapunzel has a BIG choice to make. To stay with her mother no matter what, or, to run away from her only family...

I love that so much of the book is spent away from the tower. The book has familiar touches of the Rapunzel story without a doubt, but, it is unique too.

I would definitely recommend this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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