The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson
Published by Thomas Nelson Inc on November 17th 2015
Genres: Adaptations, Christian, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, Love & Romance, Religious, Young Adult
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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?
When I received this book, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the style of writing. I thought it was in the historical genre and since my mom is always a big fan of the “good ole days,” I sent it to her. She called me after a bit and told me it wasn’t anything about historical book and instead, it was a rewriting of the well-known fairy tale of Rapunzel. I told her she could send it back to me but she said she’d give it a shot.
It seems to be a stand-alone story even though it is the second book in a series. If characters in this book were in the first one there is enough information about them that I never felt confused as to who each person was.
In this 15th century story, Rapunzel’s adoptive mother, Gothel, doesn’t want her to catch the attention of any men and in fact, she has taught Rapunzel to stay away from men and to distrust them due to her own fears. Rapunzel dreams of learning to read and marrying one day but gothel continues to prevent these dreams from happening. Every time Gothel sees a young man interested in Rapunzel, Gothel packs up their belongings, and they move to another place. While Rapunzel and Gothel are traveling on the road to Hagenheim, they are bothered by some bad guys and Sir Gerek comes to their rescue. In the process of his rescue, Sir Gerek is injured so Rapunzel and her mom are forced to help him to Hagenheim.
While her mother is barely civil, Rapunzel begins to trust this man and wonder if her mother has been telling her the truth. While Gerek is laid up with a broken arm and leg, he reluctantly teaches Rapunzel how to read. He finds that the more time he spends with her, the more he is enjoying himself. He tries to ignore his feelings for Rapunzel and knows he needs to find a more “practical” choice for a wife, but he can’t hid his feelings and is forced to acknowledge what’s going on.
I really liked how the author incorporates God into the story as Rapunzel learns to read. Rapunzel discovers what true love is with every new word she reads and begins to grow into a more independent woman. Breaking free from her mother’s control, she changes from a plain, frightened child to a beautiful, brave, and sweet young woman. God’s truth and love transform her from the inside out.
As she studies the scriptures, Rapunzel begins to question why Gothel wants her to be suspicious of men. Rapunzel uncovers a family secret that will change the direction of her life. There was no magic or evil powers in this version of the story, but instead, just a woman twisted by the past who twists the future of a young woman.
The story development was great and it was definitely a new story for an old (but popular) fairy tale. There were just enough elements that were kept the same so that there was no doubt as to which fairy tale it was from. I found the book to be encouraging and I enjoyed how much dependence the main characters had on God.
Melanie Dickerson is a two-time Christy Award finalist, two-time Maggie Award winner, Carol Award winner, two-time winner of the Christian Retailing’s Best award, and her book, The Healer’s Apprentice, won the National Readers Choice Award for Best First Book. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Melanie earned a bachelors degree in special education of the hearing impaired from The University of Alabama and has worked as a teacher in Georgia, Tennessee, and Ukraine. She lives with her husband and two children in Huntsville, Alabama.
I received a paperback copy of this book without cost from the publisher through The Fiction Guild, a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.