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The Silent Songbird (Hagenheim Series #7) by Melanie Dickerson: A Book Review

The Silent Songbird (Hagenheim Series #7)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Christian
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: 2016
Pages: 302
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Evangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?

     Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.

     Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.

     More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

      My Review: Evangeline is a cousin of King Richard. She is forced to marry an ugly and decrepit man, Lord Shively. Repulsed, Evangeline runs aways. She disguises herself as a mute girl and meets Westley le Wyse, a kind stranger who out of compassion takes her into his household. When she arrives at the household, she gradually comes to care for the people and falls in love with Westley. However, once Wesley discovers the truth to her lies, will they finally be able to love and trust each other or will the lies tear the couple apart forever?

       I really didn’t like the main characters in this book. They were not very relatable. Evangeline was very selfish. She didn’t care that her actions negatively affected others because all she cared about was her own happiness. I loathed how she treated her servant, Muriel. She dragged her into deception, and when they were separated from each other in the le Wyse’s household, she didn’t bother to check up on her or asked to care for her. She also didn’t take the time getting to know her friend, Nicola. All she cared about was her relationship with Westley. She did not take anyone’s feelings into consideration. Thus, while she is supposed to be a good character, I thought that she was no different from the mean girl, and I didn’t understand why Westley would fall for her.

     Westley was also unlikable in this novel. He made very unwise decisions in this novel. He was very gullible. He was described by many characters as being kind, but I never really saw it. He was also very selfish. He didn’t interact much with many of the servants except for Evangeline. The only reason he hung around her and fell for her was because she was beautiful. There were no other reasons for why he loved her. Thus, their relationship felt very forced and had no chemistry. As a hero, he was very weak and was often a damsel-in-distress. His servants said he was an expert swordsman, yet nowhere in the book did it show that he was a good fighter. He always had to be saved by his enemies from Evangeline.  This leads me to the ending. The climax was a letdown. The author gave her characters an easy way out of a dangerous situation. Thus, because Westley was a weak character, he was able to save his lady love without lifting a finger or even use a little wit.

     Overall, this book is about love, choices, and hope. The characters were not very well-written. However, what I disliked most about the two protagonists was that they never really suffered any consequences in this story. Also, having read all of Melanie Dickerson’s books, this was mostly a recycled version from her other books. There was no original plot in the novel. Thus, if you have read all the major plot points from her previous novels, you will notice that there is nothing new. The same contrivances are also here. Girl is forced to marry an ugly, old man; girl is a servant in a love interest’s household; girl marries love interest. As a fan of Melanie Dickerson, I hope that she comes up with something more original. I love all her novels, and have re-read the series many times. Yet, The Silent Songbird lacks creativity. The reason why I am disappointed with this book is because she is one of my favorite authors, and I know that she is capable of doing better. I think that the reason why this book is not top quality was because she had three books released that year. I think that instead of her focusing on how many novels she produced over the year, she should focus on the quality of her product. It is not necessarily about quantity but quality. Thus, The Silent Songbird was a very promising novel, and one of my most anticipated books of 2016. Sadly, it didn’t live up to its potential. I’m still going to re-read this book again simply because I love her Hagenheim series. This novel will be sure to please many fans of her works. However, I think her previous novels are better. I’m looking forward to reading the next books in this series because I’m sure that they will be more enjoyable than this novel.

Rating: 2½ out of 5 stars

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