The Golden Braid (Hagenheim Series #6) by Melanie Dickerson: A Book Review

The Golden Braid (Hagenheim Series #6)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Christian
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 318
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: 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?

     My Review: For years, Rapunzel’s mother has been protecting her from the attention of men. Never has she allowed any of them to approach Rapunzel in fear that they may take her away. When a young farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, she makes Rapunzel turn him down. Then she packs her belongings and decides to move to Hagenheim, where Rapunzel’s mother believes she will be safe from any suitors who come to their door. Along the way to Hagenheim, they are attacked by robbers and are saved by Sir Gerek, Duke Wilhelm’s bravest knight. Their chance encounter displeases Rapunzel’s mother and she strives to keep Rapunzel away from him at all cost. Yet, when they are at Hagenheim, Rapunzel years to leave her mother’s nest and make her own way in the world. Can Rapunzel get her own way or will her overbearing mother prevent her from getting her hopes and dreams?

     Rapunzel is a sympathetic character. She loves her mother, yet at the same time she wants to be more independent and wants to make choices for her own life. At first she is naive and believes everything her mother tells her. Later, she begins to question what her mother says. She gradually begins to think for herself and not rely strictly on her mother’s word. Therefore, Rapunzel is forced to make the hard choice to become her own person or to stay the same.

     Sir Gerek is an interesting character. In the beginning, he seemed to be arrogant. He ignores Rapunzel because she is a peasant and dreams of marrying a wealthy heiress. However, his arrogance is a facade because deep down he is emotionally distraught. He has a turbulent past that haunts him. Yet, when he meets Rapunzel, he is forced to come to terms with his past. He is also forced to make the decision to marry for love or for money.

     The villain was also a complex character. Rapunzel’s mother made many cruel decisions on how to treat Rapunzel, but she was not inherently evil. She had an obsessive love for Rapunzel. She had nothing in her life except Rapunzel. Rapunzel was her whole world, and she would be utterly lost and distraught without her. She was not willing to let her go because she did not want to be alone. She was a woman who refused to believe that Rapunzel was a grown woman and to admit that change was staring her in the face. She would do anything in her power to keep things to remain the same and keep Rapunzel by her side even if she had to resort to evil actions.

    Overall, this book is about friendship, family, love, choices, acceptance, and forgiveness. The story is fast-paced and action-packed. The story is set in the same time frame as The Princess Spy. I liked how it retold the story of the previous novel, but from Rapunzel’s perspective because it gave some surprising details of what the servants were doing when the castle of Hagenheim was attacked. It was like a Downton Abbey’s version of The Princess Spy. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fun read with characters you may be familiar with only from fairy tales. However, Mrs. Dickerson takes them from fantasy into realism and we always get an interesting perspective.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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