“The Golden Braid” by Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: November 17th, 2015
4 out of 5 stars.
The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.
Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.
After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.
After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.
But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.
Thank you Thomas Nelson and Kerri Potts for being willing to send me a review ARC of “The Golden Braid.” In no way has this affected my review.
Gosh, this was a cute book! I absolutely adore the original “Rapunzel” fairy tale, so I was really excited to read “The Golden Braid” and find it to be super enjoyable! “The Golden Braid” was a very sweet and endearing retelling of the old fairy tale, and I really enjoyed reading it and getting to know Melanie’s newest cast of characters.
Rapunzel was a very endearing heroine, and I liked that Melanie Dickerson wrote a female character who was as sweet as she was strong. Normally the female characters in fairy tales are the ones who are portrayed as male-dependant and are only marriage minded, especially when they take place during the medieval times. That was the culture of the time, so I get why authors usually write females that way, but the truth of that time doesn’t always make for the strongest of heroines. Melanie, however, made Rapunzel a far more balance character by having her save the hero of this story at one point and desire things like education and more independence. Rapunzel wanted to learn to read and write, something that very rarely taught to anyone outside of the upper classes, and even more seldom to women, during the middle ages. Despite that, however, Rapunzel was determined to learn all she could about the world, especially how to read and write. She was a really sweet character in “The Golden Braid” but she was also determined to search out as much life as possible, and I felt like Rapunzel had a good balance of feminine and independent qualities for the era she grew up in.
Besides the fact that I liked Rapunzel’s balance of being a good example of how femininity and gentleness are types of strength, I really enjoyed seeing her evolve as a character. Her mother, Gothel, was vehemently against men and she raised Rapunzel to believe that all men are wicked and only wanted to hurt females. Rapunzel was more skeptical towards the male sex because of that and even though she was not as extreme as her mother in her beliefs, it affected her outlook on life. I really liked this aspect because it kept Rapunzel from being obsessive over finding a man to take care of her; she learned to be independent, and although she wasn’t against finding someone to love someday, that wasn’t not her heart’s only desire. l found that really refreshing and it was nice to see a female character with other desires and goals that she wanted to accomplish, and who didn’t obsess over the potential love interest.
Sir Gerek was no Flynn Rider (A.K.A. My soul mate) but he was still a really good male character. He was definitely rough around the edges and a bit gruff, and he and Rapunzel did not hit it off right away because of his more abrasive demeanor. Gerek, although seemingly tough and standoffish, ended up being a really great character with a kind side to him, and I even liked that he initially distanced himself from Rapunzel because it meant that there was no insta-love between them. With both of their more twisted and broken growing up experiences, Rapunzel and Gerek were not the “dive in love” kind of characters, and that was super refreshing from the insta-love romances that have saturated the YA and Adult fiction markets in the past. Gerek was, to begin with, a bit of an oaf in the fact that he didn’t like being saved by Rapunzel and having to teach her to read German and Latin as repayment for her helping him, but as he got to know Rapunzel, he began to really appreciate and admire her for her kindness and natural intelligence. Obviously I didn’t like his initial oafishness towards Rapunzel besides the fact that it prevented love at first sight from occurring, but I did love that I got to see so much character growth on the part of Sir Gerek.
I ended up enjoyed this book a lot because of Melanie’s great characters and the romance that never felt forced. I love that authors are beginning to realize that most readers want to see character growth and for the hero and heroine to slowly learn to care for one another, rather than empty-headed protagonists who fall instantly in love. “The Golden Braid” had a romance in it, yet I never felt like Melanie tried to foist upon me some nauseatingly forced love story that was trying to be ridiculously “perfect.” Yeah, there were times when this story was maybe a little too sweet and situations a bit too convenient, but it was a fairy tale, after all, and that is to be expected. I liked neither Rapunzel nor Gerek ever pursued anything up until three-quarters of the way through “The Golden Braid,” and so when the romance finally happen, it felt more believable than a lot of other books I’ve read in the past within this books genre.
I liked that the romance between Gerek and Rapunzel slowly bloomed, and another thing that I enjoyed about “The Golden Braid” was how it connected to the previous book, “The Princess Spy.”
“The Golden Braid” and “The Princess Spy” by Melanie Dickerson overlapped one another in this series, and I really enjoyed that aspect. It was interesting to see the previous book’s situations from different characters’ perspectives, and I thought that it was creative of Melanie to do that because of how interconnected the whole series already was. One of my favorite parts of reading this book was figuring out how different scenes in this book aligned with ones from “The Princess Spy.” It was fun to see what was happening behind the scenes when Hagenheim was being taken over by Lord Claybrook, who I had gotten to know in “The Princess Spy.” (No worries, that’s not a spoiler!)
“The Golden Braid” is definitely my favorite Melanie Dickerson book in her “Fairy Tales” series, and I had such a great time getting to know these new characters. I would recommend it to all YA readers, young or old, because of what a quick, fun read it is, and I am so excited that someone wrote another wonderful version of my favorite fairy tale. Well done!