“The Golden Braid” By Melanie Dickerson, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2015, 304 pages. $14.99
Fairy tales. When we think of fairy tales many of us think “happily ever after” or Disney princesses. Some may instantly think of the Brothers Grimm. Fairy Tales have been passed down from generation to generation, becoming what is needed at that time. Whether it was a warning against doing bad deeds, a lesson that needed to be learned, or the hope for a better life, we all have our favorite fairy tale. Lately our favorite fairy tales have been taken and spun into whole stories from “Into the Woods” to movies like “Enchanted” and still others. The Golden Braid is a spin of the fairy tale Rapunzel, and it is quite a good one.
Many of us like to imagine if the fairy tales were real, and I think that Melanie Dickerson does an excellent job of this. The Golden Braid follows Rapunzel, and her mother, Gothel, as Rapunzel tries to find herself, and figure out why her mother is so determined to keep moving, and keep her from finding love. It takes place in Medieval Germany, which fits the tale quite nicely and helps bring it to a more realistic world. There is no magic, or dark forces, or glowing hair. This is truly the tale of Rapunzel without the fairy tale aspect, but with romance, mystery, adventure and a few battles.
Because it is based on a fairy tale, there a few things you already know: Gothel stole Rapunzel, Rapunzel is put in a tower, and Gothel is evil, and so you wait for these points in the plot to come to light. With that said, the tale is so uniquely spun it is a pleasure to read. The characters added in are nice additions, and the romance is sweet and hopeful. Even without real magic, the tale of The Golden Braid follows the romantic and hopeful line of the fairy tales we have come to love.
There are a few points in which the novel slows down. When Rapunzel finds out who her parents are she is in no rush to tell them. While I understood it from the plot point, it seems odd for a girl who has wondered who her parents were for so long. There are also some rocky moments with her romantic interest, and you find yourself wanting to yell at them to get over and kiss already (as all good romance novels should make you do).
My favorite part of this novel is that Rapunzel doesn’t really dream of becoming something grand, or being a lost princess. She is grounded in her world, and the thing she wants above all else to learn to read. That I find a great trait. When she begins work she does so well, and even after she discovers who she is, she does not rush to quit. Riches do not beckon to her. She is someone who loves to learn and that is a good thing for anyone to read about! As a side note, Rapunzel does fall in love with pretty colored dresses and makes a strong statement saying she does not own any and dreams about wanting one. Then all of sudden, she has one. I thought it would have been a nice moment of fanfare for her to have purchased her first pretty dress, but that is a nick picky mention from me, that has no hold over how enjoyable the novel is!
Melanie Dickerson has written several Medieval Fairy Tale novels, and I look forward to reading the others. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is a blend between Swan Lake and Robin Hood. The Fairest Beauty is about Snow White. The Merchant’s Daughter is about Beauty and the Beast. She is quite good at retelling fairy tales, and better yet they tie together to form one larger story. The Princess Spy is about one of Rapunzel’s sisters, and those two stories occur at the same time. It lends even more detail to the stories and allows you follow along in a world you love with some of the characters and the same family.
Thomas Nelson is a Christian publishing company, and the Christian element is very strong within this book. For some this is a plus, to some it does not matter, and others would not like to read it. Therefore, I want to make sure to mention it. Rapunzel and the story itself are very faith based, so keep that in mind.
Overall, The Golden Braid is a wonderful retelling of Rapunzel. If you enjoyed fairy tales with a twist, such as Into the Woods or Enchanted, this is your kind of book. I read it within a day, so it’s a quick, enjoyable read!
I received a copy of The Golden Braid from the publisher for an honest review.