Happily Ever After...Or Happily Nevermore?
Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela meets the duke's son, Valten--the boy she has daydreamed about for years--and learns he is throwing a ball, she vows to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.
My source for book: Local LibraryMy Thoughts:
The first thing that struck me about this story was how early on Gisela and Valten's first meeting was, rather than dragging things out and making the reader wait several chapters to see their first interaction. I really liked this pacing as it got the story off to a quick start, grabbing my attention almost immediately. The interactions between Gisela and Valten have a sweet and simple charm, which ultimately kept me up past my bedtime several times!
There are most definitely Cinderella overtones throughout the story, with portions actually heavily reminding me of the movie "Ever After" (not a bad thing!). The inclusion of faith and belief in God is light--not overbearing at all--and it generally blends seamlessly into the overall story. The faith angle does mean that there is no magical (or fairy godmother) interventions, which admittedly makes the lead-up to the ball feel a bit flat...not bad, just not very fairy-tale like.... in particular, Gisela's procural of an appropriate dress and carriage was just a bit too convenient for my taste.
The tournament scenes weren't my favorite, but the author struck a decent balance and limited them just enough so that my interest never waned. I also have to admit they were described very well; I could clearly picture everything happening, yet it wasn't gory at all.
The Captive Maiden is loosely related to Melanie's prior book, The Fairest Beauty, however in my opinion The Captive Maiden is a much stronger (and more enjoyable) story. I liked that Gisela and Valten's shared interest in horses was what originally brought them together--such a simple thing, but capable of forging a budding relationship. Though I was slightly disappointed that "midnight" never factored into the plot, this was still a fun read that I enjoyed much more than I originally anticipated. If you're a fan of fairy tale retellings, this is one that I would certainly recommend.
My Rating: 4.5 stars