I loved The Captive Maiden! Gisela and Valten were the perfect heroine and hero!
Wonderful retelling of the Cinderella story!! Love Melanie Dickerson!
As much as I have enjoyed Dickersons books and The Merchants Daughter holding a special place in my heart, The Captive Maiden has easily become my favorite book by this beloved author. The cover alone captivates the reader and when opened the story grabs you from the first page.
Even though I love the cover of this book, the man in the background didnt appeal to me so I chose an actor who takes on Valtens identity instead. Valten has been a champion his whole life, trying to prove himself in every area knowing his younger brother is the charmer of the two. Since Valten isnt comfortable around the ladies and isnt much of a talker, he finds that being active is more his style. I enjoyed his description of being a tall and intimidating warrior yet he is respectful, honorable, and loves his family deeply. More than once he reflects on how his sisters respond to him to help guide his treatment of Gisela. The longer he knows Gisela, the more he wants to please her. Even if this man doesnt know how to express himself smoothly, I found his heart to be utterly heroic and humble.
Gisela meets Valten when they are just children, but after her father dies her life becomes enslaved to her stepmother and stepsisters. In childhood, she dreams of the young man Valten is and how he gets along with the horse he purchased from her father, as she becomes older she no longer has such silly notions. The one thing Gisela loves more than anything is her horses. Then she has an encounter with Valten and there is an instant connection between them. Valten feels protective of Gisela right away and the need to protect her only grows more intensely throughout the story.
I thought of the movies A Knights Tale and Ever After while reading this book. I was utterly surprised at the chances Gisela takes to see Valten compete in the tournament, but I loved her all the more for it. She greatly teaches me that some risks are well worth it. One of my FAVORITE characters in the story is easily Valtens sister, Margaretha!! She just adds the perfect dose of lightness to the intensity and awkwardness Gisela and Valten find themselves in more than once, her chattiness (I think I just made that word up) is perfectly done. She makes one mistake in the story not realizing how grave the situation is, but she more than makes up for it.
More elements I loved in this story:
The villain, one of the knights, is the perfect challenge to Valtens character. Even though I despised the bad guy and every action he took to defy Valten, hes an extremely well written villain that brings the right amount of danger to the story. Valten and Gisela are constantly tested with the evil they face, but it only brings them closer to each other and their faith.
I truly loved Giselas best friend, Ava, the friar that Gisela meets, and Valtens family. A good book should always have strong main characters, but an exceptionally good book will also have minor characters that enhance the story even more. Dickerson does a stand up job with each of them.
This book is all about trusting Christ and keeping Him close in prayer. Since Gisela and Valten are both believers and both find themselves in dangerous situations, they must rely on prayer more than their own strength (although they have plenty of both). As they look to Christ in their dilemmas, Im reminded to do the same with my own. They also see their prayers answered several times in crucial moments and it just made me love the story even more.
There are characters I loved from The Fairest Beauty that make an appearance in this book..it was like Snow White meeting Cinderella, sigh.
Gisela has many insecurities, but in the midst of danger she is able to overcome them. Valten also finds himself feeling inadequate in certain situations and must overcome his doubts with Gisela. He learns to stop comparing himself to his brother, stop proving himself in the kingdom, and letting God be his strength in diverse circumstances. Gisela yearns to protect him and they both make sacrifices for one another. Gisela even teases Valten saying maybe shell be the one to rescue him, I just loved that! I truly enjoyed witnessing them get past these burdens and find the real strength within themselves. Their first kiss happens when they are tied up and blindfolded, but it was appropriate and enjoyable because they are both humble warriors.
Everything in this book made sense to me, was appealing for me, and every disaster this couple overcomes made the story that much more precious to me. I also fell in love with each dress Gisela wore, she appreciated the chance to wear them and she outshines every woman in the story effortlessly. Even though she is greatly abused by her stepmother, the story does not focus on that abuse and very little detail is described. However, Dickerson brilliantly makes it clear how evil the stepmother is without glorifying this mistreatment. I was taken into this story as Gisela fights for her freedom, trusts in God, and even finds the strength to forgive all who have wronged her. Im grateful for Gisela and for this author who beautifully writes her story.
I highly recommend The Captive Maiden for readers of all ages, but especially for those who enjoy young adult Christian novels as well as those who appreciate fairy tale retellings with an extra dose of adventure, faith, justice, spunk and beautiful heroes. This book will capture your heart, inspire you, captivate you, keep you cheering for its main characters, and illustrate a protective and loving God who is fierce and relentless in pursuing us..believers and unbelievers alike.
I want to give a special THANK YOU to the author (and Zondervan) for the complimentary review copy provided. Thanks for thinking of me and allowing me to review this incredible book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.