Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Fairest Beauty - A Review

First, a little about the book and the author...
Christy Award finalist Melanie Dickerson (The Merchant’s Daughter) ventures back to the world of make-believe with another enchanting take on a fairy tale classic in THE FAIREST BEAUTY (Zondervan; $9.99; January 2013).

fairest beauty 
Inspired by the story of Snow White, Dickerson introduces readers to Sophie, a belabored seventeen-year-old trapped in the clutches of the evil Duchess Ermengard. Doomed to spend all of eternity locked away in the Hohendorf castle cooking and cleaning, Sophie is unexpectedly swept off her feet by Gabehart, a mysterious noble
who intends to rescue her.

But when Sophie learns that Gabehart is already betrothed to someone else, her heart sinks. In yet another twist, Gabehart informs Sophie that she is actually the daughter of Duke Baldewin and is also betrothed—to Gabehart's brother.
With barely a moment to digest all the new information, Sophie finds herself on the run with Gabehart, narrowly escaping the duchess and her crafty guards. The two seek refuge at the Cottage of the Seven (the home of seven hospitable dwarfs) where their romance continues.
Once Duke Baldewin and Sophie's “intended” arrive, the duo’s love is put to the ultimate test.

Should Sophie defy her destiny and marry Gabehart, hurting those to whom they’re engaged? Or should she open up her heart to a complete stranger for the sake of tradition?

Dickerson caps off another alluring spin on a classic that matches the romantic flare and elegance of her previous books, The Merchant’s Daughter and The Healer’s Apprentice. She transports her captive readers back to the medieval era with distinct language and scene design with appeal that spans the centuries.
And, keeping in step with the current big screen adaptations, Dickerson modernizes the popular heroine as a courageous, warm-spirited young woman who is not a simple damsel in distress.

Filled with adventure, romance and suspense, THE FAIREST BEAUTY grips readers until its dramatic ending, leaving them anticipating the next Dickerson reincarnation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melanie Dickerson’s 2010 debut novel, The Healer’s Apprentice, was named the Best First Book by the National Readers’ Choice Awards and was both a Christy and Carol Award finalist. The book also earned the HOLT Medallion Award of Merit and was a Maggie Award finalist. Dickerson’s follow-up book, 2011’s The Merchant’s Daughter, was also a Christy Award finalist. She lives in Huntsville, Alabama, with her husband and two daughters.

What I thought:
In a word? This book was disappointing. Very. I didn't find it as good as I expected it would be, and the flowery description up there ^ seems like it belongs to a different story. Gabe wasn't 'mysterious', there was no 'ultimate test' of their infatuation (not love), and it was very apparent that Sophie wasn't going to marry Gabe's brother Valten, she was just wondering how to break the news that she was marrying Gabe. And to be honest, I did not find her 'courageous'.

Throughout a lot of the book, it seemed the main conflict or struggle was Sophie and Gabe's angst over the fact that they loved each other even though they shouldn't because both of them were 'betrothed' to other people. This was agonized over and went on for a long time, meanwhile they were traveling through the woods together, for the greater part of the time all alone until a kindly guard showed up to be a convenient chaperone. (The guards were not much of a threat, by the way, as most of them 'adored' Sophie so were unloyal to the duchess)

We were told over, and over, and over again how "handsome" Gabe was, how drop-dead-gorgeous Sophie was, and Sophie cried multiple times about wishing she could marry Gabe and feeling not good enough to be his bride.

I could have forgiven a lot of the annoyance if the writing style had been good. Unfortunately, it was boring. There were many moments that I would have just put the book down and never opened it again if I hadn't promised to review it on my blog. It was full of weak sentences like "Sophie looked worried."and the language was not medieval or old-fashioned in the least. When the author did throw in an old-fashioned term or German word "guten morgen", (good morning) for example, it was actually jarring and didn't fit the rest of the words. I was told that the book was in olden-day Bavaria, but I didn't 'see' anything to convince me of that culture.

Also - it was insinuated that some of the characters... a brooding huntsman and a flirtatious maid in the duchess's employ... had gone for a walk at night and did a lot more than walking, which was totally unnecessary and gross. The duchess herself was evil for no reason.

The book finally got mildly interesting near the end when some of the characters traveled to the 'cottage of the seven' where Sophie was staying and then she went to Gabe's home, but the ending wrapped up much too conveniently. (I.e. Gabe got a letter from Brittola's (his intended) father that Brittola had married someone else.... whereupon he proceeded to dip Sophie backwards and kiss her passionately in front of all their family members...twice.)

So... I'm very sorry to say that I did not enjoy this book. Friends of mine have said they liked the first two books by Melanie Dickerson, so I was thinking that this would be a good one too... maybe the others were much better.

I was provided a free review copy of this book by Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. These thoughts are my own. 

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