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 him 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 are about to be revealed after seventeen years. 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?
Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to be a crazy lady who keeps your daughter locked away from life, whether figuratively or literally. (Yep. Totally went for the Tangled reference right off the bat. Don’t judge.)
Like Audrey Hepburn, “I still read fairy tales & I like them best of all.” As such, I have been so looking forward to this book – when you take a classic fairy tale, give it a twist of realism, put it into a series of beloved characters, and install Melanie Dickerson at the helm you are guaranteed a beautifully moving read. The Golden Braid did not disappoint! So grab a copy of the book, sit back, get comfy, put your feet up, let your hair down… (Too much?) You’re in for a delicious ride!
One of my favorite things about The Golden Braid is the fact that it’s set during the same timeline as The Princess Spy. At first, I thought, “Haven’t we dealt with this guy already? Why is he back?” But when I realized that it was, in fact, a different perspective on those events, I did a little happy dance inside. And I LOVED how Rapunzel was involved! I want to go back and re-read The Princess Spy now that I know this side of things too.
I adored the romance element as well (as always). Gerek and Rapunzel play off each other so nicely – their bickering which progressed to fond teasing which progressed to warm friendship which progressed to … well, if I kept going here I’d have to institute a spoiler alert and I try to avoid those at all costs. You’ll have to use your imagination 🙂
But possibly my favorite aspect of The Golden Braid (well, besides a major spoiler that will make longtime fans of the series gasp with delight) is Rapunzel’s greatest dream. She wants to learn to read. I teach several Arabic women who were not allowed to go to school as young girls. As a result, many of them never learned to read in their own languages let alone English. I see the pain and embarrassment in their eyes. But, you see, as their teacher, I also get to see the intense concentration on their faces while they struggle to remember all the different sounds claimed by the letter ‘a’. I see the pride and triumph light their eyes when they master the first word without any prompting from me. And so, my heart leapt right out of my chest and landed at Rapunzel’s feet when she first asked a certain someone to teach her. (Plus it reminded me a little of my still-favorite-of-all-time Melanie Dickerson book The Merchant’s Daughter so that made it even better!)
And y’all. When she learns to read? She finds her Father. The Heavenly One. The One whose hope will not disappoint her, though everyone else and everything else may. The One who sings over her, even as she sings to Him. She knew Him before she could read, certainly, but now that she could read His words for herself, instead of relying on someone else to tell her what He said… Now, she sees Him.
Bottom Line: The Golden Braid has it all – adventure, romance, dashing knights, damsels who can save their own lives, faith, nostalgia-nods to series fans, even a mention or two of Thornbeck to tie in her other series. Most of all though, it has the warmth and heart with which Melanie Dickerson writes all of her books. C.S. Lewis famously said, “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” If you haven’t read one since childhood, may I suggest you start again now – and start with Melanie Dickerson’s Fairy Tales/Hagenheim series?
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Other books in the Fairy Tale/Hagenheim series:
About the Author:
Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.