Friday, February 12, 2016

Review: The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Genres: YA; Christian; Historical; Romance; Fairy Tale

Pages: 320

"The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after."

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Melanie Dickerson. She writes sweet, clean fairy tale retellings, and I always finish her books quickly and with a smile on my face--as cheesy as that may sound. My tastes had somehow changed a lot since I last read one of her books (honestly, I've become a bit tired of Christian Fiction), and I found myself being more nit-picky than usual. A few things niggled at me while reading, so I decided to divide this review up into things I liked and disliked. 

What I Liked: 

Rapunzel: She was fun, she was capable, she was sweet. She wasn't super tough or anything, but she was still a strong character and I enjoyed reading about her. The only thing I dislike about Rapunzel was her attitude towards her mother, but I'll talk about that later.

No Insta-love: *throws confetti* I liked the romance, because it was sweet. This could have gone like your typical fairy tale but it didn't. It wasn't *BOOM* love at first sight, so that was a relief. The romance wasn't super well-developed, but as I said, it was sweet.

The Setting: Medieval Germany! I liked returning to Hagenheim.

Ohhh, and the cover is super pretty!!

What I Disliked:

The HAIR: Yeah, I know, this is a Rapunzel retelling. And there's literally hair in the title. But there was so much emphasis placed on Rapunzel's beaauuutifulll golden hair. Every character was obsessed.

Gothel: You MUST cover your hair, or men will see it and want you.
Rapunzel: Yes, Mother!
Gerek: Why do you cover your hair? None of the other girls do. Why do you cover your hair? Why, Rapunzel? Why?

Really. I got tired of all this hair talk. Fast. Because covering your hair didn't seem that important to me in the grand scheme of things. What the hair thing did do for the story, however, was give us a larger glimpse of the relationship between Gothel and Rapunzel. Which is, um, another thing that bothered me...

Rapunzel's attitude toward Gothel: Rapunzel let Gothel (her mother) walk all over her. Yes, there were a few instances of defiance, but it just wasn't enough. Gothel was obviously not right in the head. She just didn't make any sense most of the time, and Rapunzel realized this (sometimes...) but was still "Yes, Mother Gothel. Of course, Mother Gothel." Now, really. Just because a woman raises you doesn't mean you should overlook all of her INSANE tendencies. I mean, really Rapunzel. You're a smart girl, so use your brain.

Gerek's stupidity: That's a bit harsh, but I'm good at being harsh, so let's go with it. I liked Gerek. No, really. He was grouchy and prickly and I can relate okay? But he was pretty sweet too, actually. Buut, I also like logical things and the way that he thought was just....not. Gerek's thoughts (and I cringe at this) were basically, "if my dad was cruel and beat his wife then I must be the same! Therefore I can never marry a girl that I could actually love." Hahahahaha. NO. And maybe I'm cruel for not having any sympathy but that is so illogical. I just can't.

It was preachy: I'm always wary about including a criticism like this, because I'm a Christian! I appreciate authors trying to spread the Christian message, but I think that too often the plot of a story is sacrificed to do so. Personally, I think that if you are strong about your beliefs they should seep into your writing. But trying to pound them into your book so much that we're reading a sermon in the fourth chapter (and this is just an example; not trying to insult Melanie!) well, that's a little off-putting. And in this book, I felt that the reading lessons between Gerek and Rapunzel were just there to preach at the readers (they were using the Bible). Somewhat related to that, this book also used one of my least favorite plot devices. (Highlight to read spoilers) Towards the end, when Gerek was looking for Rapunzel, he only found her because God spoke directly to him. That was just too easy, in my opinion.

Overall thoughts: I should mention that this is the sixth book in the Hagenheim series, but could be easily read as a standalone. It was a sweet, fun, clean read, and I basically swallowed in one gulp. Recommend for fairy tale lovers, fans of Melanie Dickerson, and fans of clean and simple romances. Wasn't a favorite of mine (please forgive my nitpickiness!!), but I'll still be looking out for more releases by Melanie!

Content: Kissing. That is all. Clean!


  1. I might have to read this simply because it's a Rapunzel retelling, but I prefer more twisted and somewhat darker retellings

    1. I understand that! It's hard to resist a fairy-tale retelling.

  2. I've unfortunately never really been a fan of Melanie's books. :/ Which one's your favorite? I've only tried one -- I think the Red Riding Hood one? -- but if you have one you really recommend I'll try reading it. :D

    1. I honestly don't know! It's been quite awhile since I've read her earlier ones.