Monday, March 11, 2013
The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson
Sophie/Sophia is a maid at the castle of Duchess Ermengard. She's treated horribly, and unbeknownst to her, the Duchess plans to kill her. Meanwhile, Baron Wilhelm's family is told that Sophie is actually the daughter of Duke Baldewin, and is in danger. With her betrothed Valent unable to leap to the rescue due to a broken leg, his impetuous younger brother leaps to rescue her.
The rescue was actually pretty short - the two spent quite a lot of the at the Cottage of the Seven trying not to fall in love. Yes, this is a forbidden love story. Gabe is betrothed to another gentle-born lady (Britolla), and Sophie is betrothed to this older brother. What I really admire is that they both tried their best to consider each other siblings - Gabe tells her as much as soon as they meet, and Sophie tries her best to discourage him. It really convinced me that their love was real, because they really struggled just to accept it.
In this story, the Cottage of the Seven don't consist of dwarves. They are actually normal people too strange to live in normal society. Reading about them, I have a feeling that at least one of them is autistic, and another may be deaf, and so on. The house is actually a sanctuary for them. This was one twist in the story that I thought was suitable - after all, the dwarves would have been considered strange people in the original story too.
Just one note for everyone - the characters in this story are all Christian. The story is set in Germany, so I think it's not too much of a stretch. And I can re-assure you that the story isn't preachy, it's just that the morals of the characters (for example, to forgive even your enemies), are clearly depicted as being influenced by the Bible.
I love this re-telling. I love the plot (ok, I loved the original plot anyway), I loved how they added the romance twist, I love the characters, I love it all. If you're looking for a good YA retelling, this is for you.
Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.