Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Captive Maiden

by Melanie Dickerson
2013 / 304 pages

It's Cinderella reimagined, with all the famous bits still there: it has the carriage (but it was never a pumpkin), the slipper (but not made of glass), the ball, (but now it's more of a jousting tournament), and the fairy godmother role (though she not a fairy or a godmother). Author Melanie Dickerson gives new life to the story by taking the magic out of it, bringing in an additional villain, and making the key characters sincere Christians.

My big reservation would be one I have for all romance literature. Dating life is fully of fluttering hearts and many moments of uncertainty, and the whole crazy thing is wonderful and scary and thrilling too. But there is more to love than just young love. The problem with romance books is that they celebrate just the one stage of love – the beginning – to the exclusion of all that comes afterwards. But “afterwards” is very important, and so if a teen girl ingests too many books about ball-attending, sword-fighting, head-turning Prince Charming, they may well overlook that wonderful fellow right in front of them – the Bible-believing, hard-working, eager-to-be-a-diaper-changing, ordinary Joe.

Dickerson has written a half dozen of these fairytale retellings, and whereas one is great fun, I think two is already one too many. A good literary diet requires some variety - these aren’t the sort of books that should be ingested one after another. I've also had a chance to look through three of her other "fairytale reimaginings" and while I don't have any real objections to the others, the teen angst is more noticeable (Does he love me? Really? Truly?), the romantic fluff is more grating (repeated descriptions about how beautiful she is, or how handsome he is), and the inventiveness is not quite the same. So I think this this one is the very best. And one might well be enough.

That said, this is a clever retelling and Dickerson does a good job of keeping us wondering what new twists and turns she is going to add to this familiar tale. I'd recommend it for teen girls, but an adult can enjoy it as a light fluffy read.

You can pick it up at here and here.

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