Published by Zondervan on January 8th 2013
A daring rescue.
A difficult choice.
Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?
Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl's inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother's future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.
When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.
The retelling of fairy tales is not new. It’s tradition, passed down from generation to generation, certain aspects may change, ways of thinking may influence certain outcomes but on the whole, the message remains the same. The good guys win, the bad guys lose, the beautiful princess meets her prince and they live happily ever after. There are cynics that will tell you this is wrong. Children shouldn’t grow up with such hope, life is hard and stories should reflect that. Life is hard but the ease with which one can escape into a heart warming story of love and goodness makes that life easier to cope with. Happily Melanie Dickerson is on the same page and has retold a classic that has compelled readers for years.
The past couple of years has seen Snow White reimagined in all mediums of books, TV (Once Upon A Time) and Movies (Snow White and The Huntsman). Dickerson sticks to the formula we know best and concentras on rounding out the characters and breathing life into a stereotypical beauty and giving her some backbone.
When an old lady arrives at Hagenheim Castle and delivers news to the Duke Wilhelm that the daughter of his old friend and the girl bethrothed to his eldest son, his family are stunned. With his son Valten in bed with a broken leg, the task falls on his second son Gabehart to travel to Hohendorf Castle to seek out the mystery girl, prove her background and rescue her for his brother.
Sophie is a kitchen maid in the house of the tyranical Duchess Ermengard. Sweet and beloved by her fellow servants, she cannot understand why the Duchess bestows such cruelty upon her at every opportunity. When Gabe arrives from a castle far far away with news that she is not simply a servant girl but a Duchess and heir to the castle she has spent her life serving, Sophie must decide whether to trust this stranger and meet her destiny.
I really enjoyed this story. It had been a long time since I read a classic fairytale and was pleased the Dickerson didn’t mess around with the plot or add in salacious material in order to titillate a potentially jaded audience. Instead she gives us a sweet, compelling story of love, honour, loyalty and friendship.
Sophie is kind and gentle but at no times saccharine. She is capable, endearing and not afraid to ask questions or challenge those around her. Her rescuer Gabe is michevious but steadfast. Eager to prove his worth and show he is not simply the “spare” son. As the intrepid twosome escape the clutches of the Duchess and set on the road to present Sophie to her bethrothed, the two grow close, their friendship deepens and despite their best efforts they fall in love. This story is beautifully told, chaste to the point that when the Kiss finally came, I breathed a sigh of relief louder than expected.
The familiar elements of the classic pop up throughout the story. The Huntsman, The Seven Dwarves now called “The Seven” a rag-tag group of men with familiar personality traits we’ve come to know and love. The poisoned apple…It’s all there but feels new which is a credit to the author.
Religion is woven heavily through the story but never feels oppressive or dogmatic. God is not vengeful but kind and presents hope for the triumph of good over evil. The subplots of who exactly the seven are, the story of Sophie’s father and the women she grew up with are all interesting to read and are never distracting from the main plot. They help to give a little breathing space so the story is strangled by the love story.
It wasn’t a book I probably would have picked up due to my current obsession with dystopian but I am so glad I did. Everyone needs a little fairytale in their lives and while I won’t totally spoil the ending, I’ll give you a little hint…It’s a Happily Ever After 😉
PS: How beautiful is that cover? Amazing!
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