Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

book cover
The Captive Maiden
by Melanie Dickerson

ISBN-13: 9780310724414
Trade Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: November 23, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher received through

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten---the boy she has daydreamed about for years---is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

My Review:
The Captive Maiden is a young adult retelling of Cinderella. It's based in "Spring, 1412, Hagenheim Region" to give it a historical feel, but it still reads like a fantasy. Every time Gisela needed a fancy dress or perfect-fitting dancing shoes, someone had some lying about that fit Gisela like it was made for her. During the jousting, charging knights repeatedly used pointed lances to hit the other's helmet...yet they walked away without a scratch. No broken necks, no poked-out eyes, no deaths. Gisela routinely rides spirited horses, yet when she considers throwing herself off a horse in an attempt to escape, she's convinced she'll die when she hits the ground. So it's not really realistic.

The story was primarily a romance. Valten was heroic and manly. Grisela was determined but nice. But the repeated capture and escape scenes just didn't work for me. The bad guys think it's torture to frequently let the two love birds snuggle together and plot their escape. Once, when they should be escaping from Valten's imminent death, Grisela is more focused on kissing Valten than escaping. It's all wonderfully "romantic" stuff, but it's not really what I care for.

There was an ongoing theme of needing to trust God rather than trusting in their own strength to escape the bad situation. There was no sex and no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book to teenagers who like romances where the hero is willing to die to save his love-at-first-sight beloved.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.


Bookish Medievalist said...

Just to mention, from what I know and have seen of jousting, the lances used were designed to shatter on impact- so they would not generally penetrate armour or flesh.

So the danger to the face and head would have been more from flying splinters than poked out eyes I think. There were some examples of people killed Jousting, but not many that I'm aware of.

That said, I do find some novels my this author are not the most realistic. I myself encountered a reference to a chipmunk in one- which certainly did not belong in Medieval Germany.
Also, the preoccupation of characters with kissing all the time in romance novels can be very very annoying and jarring indeed......

Debbie said...

My comment about the lances was intended to convey that it wasn't depicted accurately. Basically, what you said vs what was in the book. In the book, they are using "war"-tipped lances that CAN kill and rarely shatter, and they are aiming for the wrong target--the head rather than the shield. This should have resulting in much more injury than happens in the book.

Medieval Girl said...

Oh, Okay got it. indeed they would not have used war lances for a joust- unless they were intending to kill.

Indeed, in the book I am reading right now there is another common trope- riding a war horse for a pleasure tack in the woods.
From what I hear, people did not use war horses for everyday riding. I think their temperament made them unsuitable or some such.