The Golden Braid is the first book I've read by Melanie Dickerson. I heard a lot about The Huntress of Thronbeck Forest (though I haven't read it yet) and was definitely looking forward to see what Melanie did with this fun (and popular, thanks to Tangled) fairy tale.
Rapunzel is a bright and inquisitive young woman who paints, sings, throws knives, and has an innate fear of men handed down from her adopted mother. She's at once sweet and innocent as she is stubborn and brave which creates a fun character.
Sir Gerek, a handsome knight who puts off a slightly arrogant air, rescues Rapunzel and so begins their journey of friendship and a mystery that leaves Rapunzel searching for the truth of her identity among other things.
The story world is vibrant and the touches of information about the time period, customs, and German setting add a level of depth that anchors the fairy tale aspect in reality. Unfortunately, I wasn't as enchanted by the book as I'd initially expected. I understand that this is YA literature (I love reading YA) but I felt as if the writing was too simplistic. There was a lot of repetition of the same woes, thoughts, and fears, and not a lot of depth to either character. The love story was sweet and the mystery did leave me wondering what was going to happen, but that was the anchor, not the writing.
I would still recommend it to other fans of Mealine's work and this won't stop me from getting my hands on a copy of The Huntress of Thornbeck, but this book wasn't my favorite. I think it would definitely be appropriate for YA readers though there are some aspects of the story that could require some parental discussion with younger readers (some violence, unwed pregnancy, and decisions Rapunzel makes later in the book). I don't see these issues as reasons not to read the book, but as reasons for parents to be involved in what their kids are reading. They are great opportunities to teach, learn, and discuss. If you're looking for a sweet tale combined with intrigue, you've found it.
(rated at 4* for the sake of Amazon & Goodreads etc.)
Purchase: The Golden Braid
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 this knight 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 is about to be revealed after seventeen years of lies. 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?
_______________I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.