Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson

Book Cover and Synopsis:
Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl's inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother's future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.

When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.

My source for book: Personal Library
My Thoughts:
Weaving Christian themes into retellings of fairy tales might not seem like the most natural thing ever, but I actually think it's a really cool idea, and a great way to expose unbelievers to tidbits of the gospel. Upon reading, I do admit that initially the Christian angle seemed a bit out of place to me in the fairy tale style world, but as the story unfolded it began to feel fairly natural when the characters prayed or leaned on their faith.

The book is categorized as Young Adult fiction, but that shouldn't stop older people from giving it a shot. Admittedly, it did seem a bit younger on the scale than some YA novels that I've read...the plot was somewhat simpler than I expected it to be, without many intricacies or extreme twists. The Christian slant results in there being no "magic" in the story world, and while this isn't necessarily a bad thing, I felt that the omission of magic left some parts of the familiar story feeling rather flat, particularly the evil queen.

As for the romance between Sophie and Gabe...while there were parts that were good, overall it was a bit too saccharine for my taste. They barely knew each other before admitting to feelings, which gave me the impression that their "love" was just infatuation as a result of the trauma--fleeing for their lives--that they'd been through together. (That was without a doubt one of the best parts of the story, and it would certainly build a bond of sorts between them, but still...) I hate to sound so logical about it all, but I was just never completely sold on their feelings for each other.

This is the first of Melanie Dickerson's fairy tale retellings that I've read, and I have to admit that after all the positive things I've heard, I was anticipating finding a bit more...something. Honestly, I didn't "dislike" the book, but I was just expecting a bit more. Maybe it's because Snow White isn't really my favorite fairy tale.... Regardless, I do still want to check out some of Melanie's other works. I think the Christian spin on these classic stories is a very promising idea and has the makings of something that could be really awesome.

My Rating: 3 stars


  1. I read Melanie's Cinderella re-telling and honestly... it wasn't what I wanted or expected it to be. The book was well written but there were things that "bugged" me in the story-telling narrative. Though sitting here now, I cannot remember what those were! I like your conclusion about this story though and hopefully if I read a different book, I'd walk away with a new perspective. Always did love fairytales. :)

    1. How interesting....I also recently read the Cinderella one, and I actually liked it quite a bit...especially in comparison with the Snow White retelling. I'll be posting a review for that it in the next week or so.

      It's so interesting how different opinions can be. I do think the "no magic" angle of these books makes certain portions feel a bit flat, but at the same time I like what Melanie is trying to do by introducing faith into the tales. I'll probably continue to check out her stories, but they just aren't extremely high on my list at this point.

      Thanks for your thoughts and for stopping by, Rissi! :)