From New York Times bestselling author comes The Golden Braid, a Rapunzel retelling that proves 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?
“The Golden Braid is a delightful, page-turning retelling of the story of Rapunzel. Dickerson brings this familiar fairy tale to life with a fresh and unique plot that is full of complex characters, a sweet romance, and danger at every turn. Rapunzel’s search to understand her place in the medieval world is a timeless identity struggle that modern readers will relate to. Her growing courage and faith are inspirational and will have readers cheering her on and sad to see the story come to an end.” —Jody Hedlund, bestselling author of An Uncertain Choice
About the Author
Melanie Dickerson is a New York Times bestselling author and a Christy Award winner. Her first book, The Healer’s Apprentice, won the National Readers’ Choice Award for Best First Book in 2010, and The Merchant’s Daughter won the 2012 Carol Award. Melanie spends her time daydreaming, researching the most fascinating historical time periods, and writing stories at her home near Huntsville, Alabama, where she gathers dandelion greens for her two adorable guinea pigs between writing and editing her happily ever afters. Visit her online at MelanieDickerson.com; Facebook: MelanieDickersonBooks; Twitter: @MelanieAuthor.
Read an Excerpt
The Golden Braid
By Melanie Dickerson
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Melanie Dickerson
All rights reserved.
Late winter, 1413, the village of Ottelfelt, Southwest of Hagenheim, the Holy Roman Empire
Rapunzel, I wish to marry you."
At that moment, Mother revealed herself from behind the well in the center of the village, her lips pressed tightly together.
The look Mother fixed on Wendel Gotekens was the one that always made Rapunzel's stomach churn.
Rapunzel shuffled backward on the rutted dirt road, "I am afraid I cannot marry you."
"Why not?" He leaned toward her, his wavy hair unusually tame and looking suspiciously like he rubbed it with grease. "I have as much land as the other villagers. I even have two goats and five chickens. Not many people in Ottelfelt have both goats and chickens."
She silently repeated the words an old woman had once told her. The truth is kinder than a lie.
"I do not wish to marry you, Wendel." She had once seen him unleash his ill temper on one of his goats when it ran away from him. That alone would have been enough to make her lose interest in him, if she had ever felt any.
He opened his mouth as if to protest further, but he became aware of Mother's presence and turned toward her.
"Frau Gothel, I —"
"I shall speak to you in a moment." Her mother's voice was icy. "Rapunzel, go home."
Rapunzel hesitated, but the look in Mother's eyes was so fierce, she turned and hurried down the dirt path toward their little house on the edge of the woods.
Aside from asking her to marry him, Wendel's biggest blunder had been letting Mother overhear him.
Rapunzel made it to their little wattle-and-daub structure and sat down, placing her head in her hands, muffling her voice. "Father God, please don't let Mother's sharp tongue flay Wendel too brutally." Mother came through the door only a minute or two later. She looked around their one-room home, then began mumbling under her breath.
"There is nothing to be upset about, Mother," Rapunzel said. "I will not marry him, and I told him I wouldn't."
Her mother had that frantic look in her eyes and didn't seem to be listening. Unpleasant things often happened when Mother got that look. But she simply snatched her broom and went about sweeping the room, muttering unintelligibly.
Rapunzel was the oldest unmarried maiden she knew, except for the poor half-witted girl in the village where they'd lived several years ago. That poor girl drooled and could barely speak a dozen words. The girl's mother had insisted her daughter was a fairy changeling and would someday be an angel who would come back to earth to punish anyone who mistreated her.
Mother suddenly put down her broom. "Tomorrow is a market day in Keiterhafen. Perhaps I can sell some healing herbs." She began searching through her dried herbs on the shelf attached to the wall. "If I take this feverfew and yarrow root to sell, I won't have any left over," she mumbled.
"If you let me stay home, I can gather more for you."
Her mother stopped what she was doing and stared at her. "Are you sure you will be safe without me? That Wendel Gotekens —"
"Of course, Mother. I have my knife."
* * *
The next morning Mother left before the sun was up to make the two-hour walk to Keiterhafen. Rapunzel arose a bit later and went to pick some feverfew and yarrow root in the forest around their little village of Ottelfelt. After several hours of gathering and exploring the small stream in the woods, she had filled two leather bags, which she hung from the belt around her waist. This should put Mother in a better mood.
Just as Rapunzel reentered the village on her way back home, three boys were standing beside the lord's stable.
"Rapunzel! Come over here!"
The boys were all a few years younger than she was.
"What do you want?" Rapunzel yelled back.
"Show us that knife trick again."
"It's not a trick." She started toward them. "It is a skill, and you will never learn it if you do not practice."
Rapunzel pulled her knife out of her kirtle pocket as she reached them. The boys stood back as she took her stance, lifted the knife, and threw it at the wooden building. The knife point struck the wood and held fast, the handle sticking out perfectly horizontal.
One boy gasped while another whistled.
Rapunzel yanked her knife out of the wall and continued down the dusty path. She had learned the skill of knife throwing in one of the villages where she and Mother had lived.
Boys and old people were quick to accept her, an outsider, better than girls her own age, and she tried to learn whatever she could from them. An old woman once taught her to mix brightly colored paints using things easily found in the forest, which Rapunzel then used to paint flowers and vines and butterflies on the houses where she and Mother lived. An older man taught her how to tie several types of knots for different tasks. But the one skill she wanted to learn the most had been the hardest to find a teacher for.
She walked past the stone manor house, with the lord's larger house just behind it and the courtyard in front of it. On the other side of the road were the mill, the bakery, and the butcher's shop. And surrounding everything was the thick forest that grew everywhere man had not purposely cleared.
Endlein, one of the village girls, was drawing water from the well several feet away. She glanced up and waved Rapunzel over.
Rapunzel and her mother were still considered strangers in Ottelfelt as they had only been there since Michaelmas, about half a year. She hesitated before walking over.
Endlein fixed her eyes on Rapunzel as she drew near. "So, Rapunzel. Do you have something to tell me? Some news of great import?" She waggled her brows with a smug grin, pushing a strand of brown hair out of her eyes.
"No. I have no news."
"Surely you have something you want to say about Wendel Gotekens."
"I don't know what you mean."
Endlein lifted one corner of her mouth. "Perhaps you do not know."
"That your mother has told Wendel he cannot ever marry you because the two of you are going away from Ottelfelt."
Rapunzel's stomach turned a somersault like the contortionists she had seen at the Keiterhafen fair.
She should have guessed Mother would decide to leave now that a young man had not only shown interest in her but had declared his wish to marry her. The same thing happened in the last two villages where they had lived.
Rapunzel turned toward home.
"Leaving without saying fare well?" Endlein called after her.
"I am not entirely sure we are leaving," Rapunzel called back. "Perhaps Mother will change her mind and we shall stay."
She hurried down the road, not even turning her head to greet anyone, even though the baker's wife stopped to stare and so did the alewife. She continued to the little wattle-and-daub cottage that was half hidden from the road by thick trees and bushes. The front door was closed, even though it was a warm day for late winter.
Rapunzel caught sight of the colorful vines and flowers she had only just finished painting on the white plaster walls and sighed. Oh well. She could simply paint more on their next house.
Pushing the door open, Rapunzel stopped. Her mother was placing their folded coverlet into the trunk.
"So it is true? We are leaving again?"
"Why do you say 'again'? We've never left here before." She had that airy tone she used when she couldn't look Rapunzel in the eye.
"But why? Only because Wendel said he wanted to marry me? I told you I would not marry him even if you approved of him."
"You don't know what you would do if he should say the right thing to you." Her tone had turned peevish as she began to place their two cups, two bowls, pot, and pan into the trunk.
"I know you, Rapunzel. You are quick to feel sorry for anyone and everyone." She straightened and waved her hand about, staring at the wall as though she were talking to it. "What if Wendel cried and begged? You might tell him you would marry him. He might beg you to show him your love. You might ... you might do something you would later regret."
"I would not." Rapunzel's breath was coming fast now, her face hot. It wasn't the first time Mother had accused her of such a thing.
"You don't want to marry a poor, wretched farmer like that Wendel, do you? Who will always be dirty and have to scratch out his existence from the ground? Someone as beautiful as you? Men notice you, as well they might. But none of them are worthy of you ... none of them." It was as if she had forgotten she was speaking to Rapunzel and was carrying on to herself.
"Mother, you don't have to worry that I will marry someone unworthy." Rapunzel could hardly imagine marrying anyone. One had to be allowed to talk to a man before she could marry him, and talking to men was something her mother had always discouraged. Vehemently.
Mother did not respond, so Rapunzel went to fold her clothes and pack her few belongings.
As she gathered her things, she felt no great sadness at the prospect of leaving Ottelfelt. She always had trouble making friends with girls near her own age, and here she had never lost her status as an outsider. But the real reason she felt no regret was because of what she wanted so very badly, and it was not something she could get in tiny Ottelfelt.
Rapunzel was at least nineteen years old, and she could stay in Ottelfelt without her mother if she wanted to. However, it would be difficult and dangerous — unheard of — unless she was married, since she had no other family. But if they went to a large town, there would certainly be many people who knew how to read and might be willing to teach her.
"Mother, you promised someday you would find someone who could teach me to read. Might we go to a large town where there is a proper priest who knows Latin, a place where there might dwell someone who can teach me to read and write?" She held her breath, watching her mother, whose back was turned as she wrapped her fragile dried herbs in cloths.
Finally, her mother answered softly, "I saw someone in Keiterhafen this morning, someone who ... needs my help with ... something."
Rapunzel stopped in the middle of folding her clothes, waiting for Mother to clarify the strange comment.
"And now we will be going to meet him in Hagenheim."
Her heart leapt. Hagenheim was a great town, the largest around.
She tried not to sound eager as she asked, "Isn't that where you lived a long time ago, when Great-Grandmother was still alive?"
"Yes, my darling. Your great-grandmother was the most renowned midwife in the town of Hagenheim — in the entire region." She paused. "Someone I once knew will soon be back in Hagenheim after a long stay in England."
"I don't remember you saying you knew anyone who went to England. Is it a family member?"
Her mother turned to Rapunzel with a brittle smile. "No, not a family member. And I have never mentioned this person before. I do not wish to talk about it now."
The look on Mother's face kept Rapunzel from asking any more questions. Mother had never had friends, and she had never shown any interest in marrying. Although she could marry if she wished. She was still slim and beautiful, with her long, dark hair, which had very little gray.
Later, as Rapunzel finished getting her things ready to tie onto their ox in the morning, she hummed a little song she'd made up. Mother enjoyed hearing her songs, but only when no one else was around.
When night fell, Rapunzel sang her song as Mother finished braiding Rapunzel's long blond hair. Mother smiled in her slow, secretive way. "My precious, talented girl."
Rapunzel embraced her and crawled under the coverlet of their little straw bed.
* * *
The next day Rapunzel trudged beside her mother down the road, which was nothing more than two ruts that the ox carts had worn deep in the mud that had then dried and become as hard as stone. She led their ox, Moll, down the center between the ruts, careful to avoid stepping in the horse and ox dung. Their laying hens clucked nervously from the baskets that were strapped to Moll's back.
Night began to fall. Rapunzel lifted her hand to her face and rubbed the scar on her palm against her cheek absentmindedly. She'd had the scar, which ran from the base of her thumb to the other side of her hand, for as long as she could remember. The skin over it was smooth and pale, like a long crescent moon.
"How much farther to Hagenheim, Mother?" "At least two more days."
Rapunzel didn't mention what she was thinking: that a band of robbers could easily be hiding in the trees at the side of the road. It was not safe for two women to be traveling alone, although they had never been attacked in all the times they had moved from one village to the next.
They had also never traveled so far. They normally only journeyed a few hours.
When the moon was up and shining brightly, and they had not encountered any other travelers for at least an hour, Mother said, "We will stop here for the night."
Rapunzel guided the ox off the road and among the dark trees.
They made a small fire and prepared a dinner of toasted bread, cheese, and fried eggs.
After making sure the ox and hens had food, and after putting out their fire, Rapunzel and Mother lay close together, wrapped in their blankets. Rapunzel sang softly until Mother began to snore.
* * *
The next day was uneventful and the unusually warm weather continued. The sun shone down on Rapunzel's head and shoulders as she plodded along at the speed of the ox and to the sound of the chickens' clucking and squawking. Occasionally she amused herself and Mother with her songs, but she always stopped singing when someone came within listening distance. Her mother had warned her not to let strangers hear her beautiful voice or see her golden, ankle-length hair, which Rapunzel kept covered with a scarf and sometimes a stiff wimple. But Mother had never explained why. Perhaps she just didn't want Rapunzel attracting attention to herself for the same reason she didn't want her singing or speaking to men, young, old, or in-between.
On the second day of their journey, two travelers caught up with them, leading two donkeys that pulled a cart loaded and covered by burlap, with one of the men riding on the tallest lump on the back of the cart. As they passed by to Rapunzel's right, the man leading the donkeys smiled. "Pardon me, but would you know how close we are to Hagenheim town?"
"We should reach it by tomorrow night." Rapunzel noticed a big scar on the side of his face. "You may reach it sooner since you are moving faster."
"Thank you, kind maiden." He nodded.
Mother turned to stare hard at something just behind them. The second man stared pointedly at their bundles and baskets tied to Moll's back. When the man's eyes darted to hers, the hair on the back of her neck stood up at the look in his eyes and the strange smile on his face.
"A good day to you." He spoke politely, and they moved ahead until they rounded a shady bend in the road and disappeared.
She sighed in relief, until her mother said in her irritable tone, "Don't speak to strangers, Rapunzel. You know it is dangerous."
"He only asked a simple question. Besides, he didn't look dangerous."
"Dangerous men are the ones who take care not to look dangerous."
Clouds encroached on the sun, sending a shadow creeping over her shoulder. As they entered the double shadow of the trees that hung over the curve in the road, the cart that had passed them a few moments before sat idle several feet ahead. Its two owners were nowhere in sight.
Rapunzel felt a sensation like bugs crawling over her skin. She put her hand on her belt, where she usually kept her knife, but it was not there. She must have left it in their food bag when she put everything away after their midday meal. Should she stop? Or speed up?
Before she could decide, she heard footsteps running up behind her. She spun around just as the man who had smiled at her earlier reached his hands toward her. And he was still smiling.
Excerpted from The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson. Copyright © 2015 Melanie Dickerson. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Another great story
The book was beautifully and eloquently written! It had the perfect amount of suspense and danger, yet encompassed the growing live between characters! A MUST READ!
Okay y'all, this book is amazing. I really enjoyed it! It wasn't a corny love story like a lot that's out there. It was truly interesting! I can't tell my favorite part, cause one: that'd ruin the story for y'all that hasn't read it yet. Two: I don't have just one favorite part, I have many! I hope everybody enjoyed this book as much as I did. Fixing to start the next book! ;-)
I read this book in one night and then read it the next day beacause i loved it so much
An amazing book! A great retelling of the story of Rapunzel with a very suspenseful story line. Kept me up all night!
I thought it was a beautiful retelling!
The story was sweet, a nice romantic read. I liked the characters, but I do think they could have been executed better. I also thought the writing was too simplistic, but it does flow well and Dickerson uses beautiful imagery. Good overall!
I enjoyed reading this very much. A wonderful retelling of a story from my childhood without foul language and explicit sex. I would highly recommend this book and the author.
Not only did the book cause me missed hours of sleep for just another handful of delicious lines, but it also filled me with a sense of satisfaction as little details from previous chapters started to make sense further along the line. Romance and mystery combined, the book had me begging for more when it was over. Love it!
Simply put, I loved this book. It made me smile, and it engaged both my imagination and my heart. The Golden Braid, as one might guess, tells the story of Rapunzel. It’s a story for every girl (no matter her age) who has ever dreamt of being a princess… for each one who has ever pretended she lived in a castle and wore twirly dresses to the ball. As a young woman, Rapunzel has grown up always being taught to be wary of anyone and everyone, particularly men. While her soft heart is lonely and discontent because deep inside she desperately wants more, she feels a fierce loyalty to her adoptive mother. One day Rapunzel discovers a way to feed her hunger for knowledge by fulfilling one of her lifelong dreams — learning to read. An unexpected series of events finds Rapunzel in situations she wouldn’t have ever imagined, and she begins to learn what it means to learn what it means to love like Jesus. Melanie Dickerson enchanted me as a reader with this reimagining of Rapunzel’s story. I’m enchanted like I am by chocolate cake. Rich in texture and flavor, chocolate cake and The Golden Braid make me want to eat dessert first.. and to read before anything else. *This is actually the sixth book in a series… which I realized about 2/3 of the way through it. If you, like me, accidentally read them out of order, it’s not the end of the world. If you want to get the most out of the story though, you should probably go in order. That being said, this story is complete and can stand alone, as can all the others.
The Golden Braid tells a wonderful story that is inspiring and lovely. The sweet romance that evolves is touchingly tender and made my heart skip a beat now and then. I love the medieval setting of knights, herbs and poisons, and dungeons in every castle. The teachings of the Holy Writ are infused into the lives of many characters, though certainly not all, and is responsible for their thoughts and actions. Forgiveness is a major theme. Although this book is listed as YA, I recommend it for everyone who enjoys fairy tales and their retellings.
This Rapunzel is more than a princess... I have been waiting for this book for a long a time. Family and friends will understand why I've been looking forward to a Melanie Dickerson retelling of Rapunzel. And believe me, I was totally thrilled when I found out that The Golden Braid was just the book I was hoping for. And I was in no way disappointed. I have to admit life got in the way so I got off to a slow start in reading this book but when I finally got into it I I couldn't tear myself away. I HAD to keep reading and find out what would happen next. The Golden Braid was a completely captivating read and perfectly delightful. The Golden Braid is a wonderful tale of intrigue, romance, and buried secrets. Excitement and danger lend spice to a pair of likable lead characters. I will make a confession here, it took a little while for me to like Sir Garek and I totally agreed with Rapunzel's opinion of his arrogance. But as time went by and he grew into the role of hero I began to like him more. Rapunzel herself was a delightful blend of sweetness and spunk and she comes up with some wonderfully wicked ideas to help save the day. With every word Melanie Dickerson weaves a spell. Spinning the familiar and much-loved fairytales into something fresh and new. It's this that keeps me coming back, reveling in each new story, tantalizing me in between tales. Don't let the YA tag put you off, this book and all of the others are just as enjoyable for teens and adults alike. If you take my advice, you won't miss The Golden Braid or any of Melanie Dickerson's delicious medieval fairytale romances. (I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.)
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.
In this imaginative retelling of Rapunzel, Melanie Dickerson puts a unique spin on the fairytale. In The Golden Braid, Rapunzel is not your typical damsel in distress. For instance, she can throw knives and paint very well. The novel chronicalizes Rapunzel and her plight to learn how to read. Furthermore, her stepmother ,Gothel, keeps her so sheltered from the world that the desire she has is difficult to accomplish, but when she meets a handsome knight everything changes. I won't give out major spoilers. This novel was a fun read. Melanie Dickerson's writing style causes one to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next in the story's plot. One who loves fairytales and romance is sure to enjoy this book.
The Golden Braid (Hagenheim series #6)***** by Melanie Dickerson The Golden Braid is a retelling of the fairytale Rapunzel in a way only Melanie Dickerson can. Rapunzel and her mother travel around a lot, never staying in one place for any length of time. Rapunzel makes the most of it and paints beautiful flowering vines on the outside of their dwelling places, making them more “homey”. As they are traveling to their newest location, a larger city, Hagenheim in the year 1413, they are attacked and the handsome knight Sir Gerek rides up rescuing Rapunzel and her mother. Further down the road, Rapunzel ends up rescuing Sir Gerek—he quickly learns that there is much more to Rapunzel than a beautiful face—why, she can throw a knife better than any man. Rapunzel has one wish—to learn to read and one fear—her mother. I was not sure what to expect in a retailing of Rapunzel but this story far exceeded my expectations. There appears a mystery surrounding Rapunzel's life that is revealed masterfully—and unexpectedly—in the story-line. I found myself cheering her on to learn the truth, learn to read and hoped she would find true love. I love how she found the Father—God—once she learned to read by reading the Holy Word. As the reader gets into the story, danger and evil lurk, seeking out to destroy that which gets in it's path. It is very clear where—and who—that evil is coming from, causing me to hold my breath at certain dangerous situations. I soon picked my favorite characters....Rapunzel and Sir Gerek just two of them and those not so favorite—well, hateful, dangerous characters....Gothel being one of them—from the well developed character line. The Golden Braid has it all—mystery, revenge, forgiveness, fear, danger, evil intentions, honor, adventure, redemption, reconciliation, the beautiful message of God's love and grace, romance and love. I had not realized this is part of a series until after I finished reading it. However, I was able to follow the story-line without difficulty. I will read the other books in the series soon. ~I was gifted a copy of this book by Carrie Fancett Pagels....I was not obligated to write a review....this is my honest review~
I absolutely loved this book, I read it in one sitting. Melanie Dickerson does a fantastic job of weaving in the fairy tale, real life struggles and a trust in God all in one book. I would definitely recommend this book and this author to everyone.
A Unique Retelling In some ways, I wonder what makes anyone want to tell a story that has already been told. Again. But then I pick up a book by Melanie Dickerson and I find the answer: it hasn’t been told already, at least not like this. Sure, there are recognizable elements, but so much of what I expected is turned on its head and becomes something completely different, woven together with other threads to create a thoroughly enjoyable piece of fiction unlike any other retelling I have read. I really enjoy this main character. Rapunzel is a strong woman who does not know that she is strong, but that is part of her journey. She wants to learn and faces obstacles at every turn; from those who believe her curiosity is strange, to the oddities of the woman who raised her, to her frequent relocations, nothing comes easy for her. Yet for all of her obstacles, she perseveres in difficult circumstances and pursues learning to read. I want my daughters to emulate that desire to better themselves. And I also appreciate that she didn’t have to give up any of her femininity to gain knowledge or skills; she is a perfectly capable woman and she remains that way for the duration, even when she views her own value as less than it really is. The spiritual content is wonderful—and while it doesn’t really become an integral part of the novel until the last quarter of the book, I was able to follow the subtle thread throughout. The real payoff comes at the climax of the book and in several incredibly powerful scenes I marveled at how various things came together to beautifully portray how God’s timing is always best. Forgiveness, wisdom, healing, and hope are also addressed with some depth. This is a fantastic book and has all of the elements that make for a great read: excellent writing, an intriguing plot, mystery, suspense and a good romance. Because it is kept clean of language, and the violence is held to a mild level despite the various plot points that necessitated some action, this book is suitable for high school age readers from 9th grade and up. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys fairy tale retellings, including those who would prefer to keep away from magical elements. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Book Talk to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.
The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson is a delightful novel! I wondered when I read the title if this was actually the story of Rapunzel. I was more than pleased when I dug into the book that it was indeed Rapunzel but told with a fresh perspective. Rapunzel was a maiden who lived with her mother. In the beginning of the book, Rapunzel and her mother are travelling to a town her mother had once lived in. Rapunzel ponders many of the things her mother has taught her, and why she isn’t to befriend anyone. Her hair is always to be covered and her clothing useful but ugly. Nothing to draw any attention to her is to be used or worn. Even speaking to someone of the opposite sex has sent them seeking a new place to live. Mother is intent on keeping Rapunzel with her forever. On the road, Mother and Rapunzel are waylaid by robbers when Sir Gerek happens by and rescues them. When Sir Gerek is injured, Rapunzel and her mother are forced to help the knight back to a monastery outside of Hagenheim to be healed. Hagenheim is their destination as well, so they deliver the knight to the monastery and they are on their way. Mother is quite suspicious of the knight and thinks that they will not cross paths again, but Rapunzel decides to ask the monastery to help her learn to read in exchange for doing housework. In a twist of fate, the father decides to have Sir Gerek teach Rapunzel, as he has nothing to do until he is healed enough to ride home. There were so many great plot twists and turns that this story was hard to put down. Although this story did have references to God, it was not preachy in the least. I want to read more from this author. I was sent this promotional book for free from a book guild for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions of Ms. Dickerson or anyone but myself.
This has got to be my favorite Rapunzel story to date. I love the way Melanie turns fairy tales into stories that could really happen. Rapunzel is a strong character, she has learned how to take care of herself despite her over protective mother who tried to keep her from learning anything that could make her independent. But there are secrets there that will explain her mother's possessiveness that will rock her world. Sir Gerek is the perfect mix of bravery and humility. Despite his past, he works hard to be the best knight he can be. But he doubts his worth. There is danger and adventure around every corner. If you have read her other books you will find familiar characters in this book. You will also find a story inside a story from one of them. Her books are on my favorites list. I love them all. I recommend them to teens and young adults as well as those of us that are older but young at heart. Romance in her books is sweet and pure. They are great for a YA book club or for moms to talk to their daughters about the difficult subject that arise. Another 5 star book for Melanie!
Be ready to be wrapped back up in your childhood. Reading this reminded me of being a kid and listening to fairytales. Such a page turner and an awesome retelling of one of my favorite fairytales. I was so excited when I received this in the mail! The cover most certainly drew me in first. It is beautiful and makes you want to read it. I must admit I don't normally read YA fiction because it is most always fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi which I don't enjoy at all. This however was very different from that. Melanie takes you on a journey in a story you think you already know and then all of the sudden it's a brand new story that you don't want to stop reading. I loved how she took a well loved story and added her own spin to it without taking away from the original feel of it. My favorite part of this book is the spiritual element that was added. It makes me want to share these fairytales with my daughters because I can show them how even their favorite princesses could have loved God and served him! I feel like this book is great for most ages starting around 11 or 12, I plan on sharing it with my 10 year old who is mature for her age. The romance element is sweet and not very strong. There are no inappropriate scenes or scenes that take the romance too far. It is mentioned that men are evil and only want certain things and will then leave you alone, but those things are not discussed in great detail. I very much enjoyed this book and can't wait to read more by Melanie. Thank you to the Fiction Guild for the opportunity to review this book. A positive review was not required.
Melanie has written another wonderful book. I will be honest I had trouble separating my mind from Disney’s Tangled and that story line. Oh, but there are so many secrets and things unknown in this story. It will keep you reading and your mind searching for hints which are sprinkled sparingly but enough to keep you reading. Rapunzel is a determined young lady who wants more for her life even if it means defying her mother. Gerek is hard to get a handle on. Is he a nice guy or as arrogant as he can come across? Overall, this is a book like you have come to expect from Melanie. And if you haven’t read anything by her then I encourage you to give this one a try. A copy of this book was given to me through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.
A classic fairy tale, re-imagined like you would never believe! Experience the story of Rapunzel through new eyes. Rapunzel is an accomplished artist and can throw a dagger better than anyone, however, she longs to learn how to read. When yet another young man proposes marriage to Rapunzel, Mother Gothel whisks them away to the city of Hagenheim. And her dream of learning to read might actually become a reality. When the handsome knight, Sir Gerek, saves them on the road, her opportunity to learn may be here at last! But Rapunzel has been brought up to fear everyone and everything in life. Especially men, claiming that none can be trusted. Despite this fact, Sir Gerek agrees to teach Rapunzel to read. As the story unfolds, truths are revealed, and everything Rapunzel has come to believe about herself changes. Will she find her "Happily Ever After?" Or will she allow fear to consume her as it does for so many. The Golden Braid is not your typical "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!" re-telling of this classic fairy tale. There are deep truths and weighty lessons that resonate deep within your soul. We have all faced fears. Have we allowed fear blind us to the truth that our Heavenly Father is protecting us and guiding us? Sometimes bad things happen, and we may never know why. But as children of God we must trust that He knows what He is doing and that He will guide our path. Love is another powerful aspect of this story. That human love, no matter how deep and true, will never be able to satisfy like God's love. While we need earthly love from our family and spouse, we must ultimately cling to the true love our Father love above all others. I had very high expectations for this book and Melanie Dickerson blew them all out of the water! I can not believe I have not read her books before now. I am thrilled to have found her books and am eagerly anticipating reading her next book: A Spy's Devotion. I received a free digital copy of The Golden Braid from Thomas Nelson Publishers through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
This was a great updated version of the fairy tale Rapunzel. I started it late and didn't want to put it down. However, I had a playoff game the next day and NEEDED to sleep. The story was much longer and much better. I really got into it and really had feelings for the characters a little more. Whether they were bad or good. And there were some very bad characters in here. Of course, there were some very good characters, as well. The book sat on my TBR pile for a while and I'm not sure why. I apparently thought it was a romance book (which I'm not into) and kept putting it off. Now, I'm kicking myself for letting it sit there for so long. I definitely enjoyed this happily ever after book and was thoroughly entertained. Thanks to Thomas Nelson and Fiction Guild for providing me with this free book that I might read and write an honest review in exchange. I most assuredly recommend it.
I am loving the series and how the characters are all connected.
I enjoyed every minute reading this book!