Evangeline longs to be free, to live in the world outside the castle walls. But freedom comes at a cost.
Evangeline is the ward and cousin of King Richard II, and yet she dreams of a life outside of Berkhamsted Castle, where she might be free to marry for love and not politics. But the young king betroths her to his closest advisor, Lord Shiveley, a man twice as old as Evangeline. Desperate to escape a life married to a man she finds revolting, Evangeline runs away from the king and joins a small band of servants on their way back to their home village.
To keep her identity a secret, Evangeline pretends to be mute. Evangeline soon regrets the charade as she gets to know Wesley, the handsome young leader of the servants, whom she later discovers is the son of a wealthy lord. But she cannot reveal her true identity for fear she will be forced to return to King Richard and her arranged marriage.
Wesley le Wyse is intrigued by the beautiful new servant girl. When he learns that she lost her voice from a beating by a cruel former master, he is outraged. But his anger is soon redirected when he learns she has been lying to him. Not only is she not mute, but she isn’t even a servant.
Weighed down by remorse for deceiving Wesley, Evangeline fears no one will ever love her. But her future is not the only thing at stake, as she finds herself embroiled in a tangled web that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to save the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?
SERIES: Hagenheim #7
GENRE: YA/Fairy Tale Retelling
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
RELEASE DATE: November 8, 2016
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“No one could help her. She had to save herself.”
While you’re reading The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson, you may find yourself humming the song “Part of Your World” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid movie. And a time or two, you may break into a reggae beat, imploring Westley to “Kiss the Girl” (woo woo). If a lobster/crab/whateverSebastianwas shows up to sing along, you might want to become concerned. Otherwise just embrace it. Because Melanie does a fabulous job of retelling The Little Mermaid (the Andersen version) and reshaping it to become Evangeline’s story. With her hilariously disastrous attempts to fit in as a servant, Evangeline truly was a “mermaid out of water”.
(You may also find yourself wanting to call out “Have fun storming the castle!” because while The Little Mermaid is clearly the dominant fairy tale here, there are shades of The Princess Bride as well if you look closely enough.)
But before I talk about Westley, I need to gush about Westley’s father first. Lord le Wyse. Or as I like to call him, “yummy Lord Ranulf”. When I heard that The Silent Songbird would take us back to England, back to the universe of The Merchant’s Daughter (still my very favorite Dickerson book), I may have fangirl squealed in giddy excitement. (Ok… totally did.) And i must confess that my book-boyfriend-collecting heart did go pitterpatter when Ranulf first showed up in Songbird. Oh yeah, and it was nice to see Annabel too 😉
Ahem. Anyway… back to Evangeline and Westley.
The Silent Songbird is a sweet story of falling in love (lots of tender and swoony moments!, finding your footing in your faith and finding your place in the world. (And now I’m singing Michael W. Smith’s song… clearly I need professional help.) Along the way, mixed throughout the tender and the swoony and the profound, are moments which will pull a giggle out of the grumpiest Grinch. Perhaps more than any of Melanie Dickerson’s other books, The Silent Songbird shows her great sense of humor. With lines like, “At least if she worked inside, she couldn’t nearly decapitate someone” and “Are you kissing in the Lord God’s chapel? There is no kissing in the chapel!” you are sure to smile nearly as often as you sigh blissfully. And sigh blissfully, you shall.
Bottom Line: The Silent Songbird is warm and funny and sweet, with a dash of suspense and a cartload of adventure. Melanie Dickerson is in top form with this return to Glynval, but even if you’ve never read The Merchant’s Daughter you will feel right at home. Expertly taking a couple of the world’s most familiar and beloved tales and weaving them into a story of even truer love and gentle faith, Melanie Dickerson proves once again why she’s the queen of fairy tale retellings!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 5 stars / Fantastic!
KissingBook Level: 3 / May forget to breathe on occasion
Melanie Dickerson is the New York Times bestselling author whose two favorite time periods are Medieval, which she has combined with her love of fairy tales, and Regency England, which stems from her love of Jane Austen. She is a 2-time Christy Award finalist, a 2-time Maggie Award winner, winner of The National Reader’s Choice Award for 2010’s Best First Book, and winner of the 2012 Carol Award in Young Adult fiction. She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama and has taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee, and English to adults in Germany and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing, hanging out on facebook, and being with her husband, two daughters, and two guinea pigs near Huntsville, Alabama.
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