Imagine this – Robin Hood meets Swan Lake meets Melanie Dickerson. If the thought that popped into your brain was “perfection”, then you already have a great picture of The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest! Nobody but nobody retells a fairy tale like Melanie Dickerson, and this latest release may very well be her best yet. The characters are faced with some of the most complex decisions, some of the most pivotal situations, as in any of her previous retellings, and we the readers get the privilege of being observers to how it all plays out at the direction of Ms. Dickerson’s talented pen. You will swoon, you will cheer, you will swoon, you will grin, you will swoon, you will drop your jaw, you will swoon (did I mention that already?), you will thoroughly enjoy this read. Fair warning though: if you are the type of person who bites your fingernails under stress, your nails might be a wee bit shorter by the time you finish the last page!
By day, Odette Menkels teaches the poor children of Thornbeck how to read and write. By night, she poaches from the rich margrave’s forest to feed them, sort-of a female Robin Hood if you will. I personally loved how Melanie Dickerson worked in the Swan Lake theme here too – the transformation of Odette not into a swan but into a huntress between day and night. (She transforms into a swan too at one point, in a manner of speaking! lol)
Jorgen, as the margrave’s forester, is charged with finding out who is poaching said forest and depleting the deer population, and in the process he hopes to solve his father’s murder (at the hands of a poacher). There’s just one problem – he and Odette are falling in love. Odette is hopelessly torn between knowing that she needs to continue poaching in order to feed the starving children and knowing that Jorgen would hate her if he found out she was the poacher he was hunting.
Adding to the already-complicated situation is the hovering presence of Mathis Papendorp, the son of the town mayor. Mathis wants Odette as his wife and a childhood rivalry with Jorgen only amps up the stakes even further as they both battle for claim to her heart. Side note: I love how Jorgen and Odette’s full names just sort-of lilt off the tongue. Jorgen Hartman. Odette Menkels. I hear birds singing and lovely music playing, don’t you? Whereas, Jorgen’s chief competitor for Odette’s affection (and thereby the man we all love to hate in this tale) has a name that makes your mouth quite simply want to snarl when you say it. Mathis Papendorp. Another irritating individual in the book is Ulrich Schinkel. Same effect as good ole Mathis’ name. I hear… well, nothing pleasant. See, these are the details that separate the good writers and the GREAT writers. Something as simple as a name – genius.
Remember that warning I gave you about your fingernails? Here’s another one: DO NOT RELAX! Just when you think it’s safe and you can breathe easily, WHAM! Another plot twist comes out of nowhere and leaves your jaw hanging open again. I believe at one point I even said, “No way!” out loud and then grinned because it was just that good. And then when it really is safe to relax, Melanie Dickerson steals your breath right back again with a couple of kissing scenes that are ooh-la-la fantastic!
Honestly, I don’t think any book can or will ever replace The Merchant’s Daughter and The Healer’s Apprentice as my favorites of Melanie’s works. However, Jorgen Hartman just may be my new favorite character across her series. (Serieses? Seriesi? What IS the plural of series?) Anyway… Jorgen is just so ….true. He is endearing and sweet and chivalrous and loyal and Godly and true. And oh how he loves Odette. (Plus, that boy can kiss! *fan* *dreamy sigh* *dramatic flail*)
I am so excited about this new series, and I’m looking forward to the next book which I’m told features the Margrave as its hero. (Yay! He is a very mysterious character but a good guy overall. Can’t wait to read his story!) Also, there were still some unanswered questions at the end of Huntress that I’m hoping we find out more about in future stories. You can read my interview with Melanie Dickerson here and enter to win a signed copy of The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest while you’re at it! And yes… I show my fangirl side in the interview. My husband said I’m allowed ONE flailing/gushing interview with an author, and I have now reached my limit. *sheepish grin*
The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest gets 5 out of 5 stars from me!!
Thank you, Melanie Dickerson and Netgalley, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
You can preorder The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest at Amazon for only $4.99 for the ebook version!! The book is due to release on May 12th.