The Golden Braid

the golden braid

This is probably the most beautiful love story I have ever read in all my years of reading. I was a bit wary, since I’d heard that there was no magic in it. At all. And in my personal opinion, magic is what makes a good book extraordinary. This book didn’t need it to be wonderful.

If you haven’t already guessed, Melanie Dickerson’s The Golden Braid is a retelling of Rapunzel. But it doesn’t begin in a tower.

At the start of the book, Rapunzel and her mother, Gothel, move to the outskirts of Hagenheim, a large city in Germany. On the way, a knight by the name of Sir Gerek saves them from robbers. And slowly, Rapunzel realizes that she wants to break away from her mother- and in doing so, she discovers a life- and a love- she’d never before imagined.

I read this as quickly as I read Princess of the Silver Woods. This book blew my mind. The romance was just so well written, and to see a character go from cocky to kind because of love… Marvelous.

So I would suggest this to any fan of the medieval time period, romance, or fairy tales. Because it’s absolutely fantastic.

-Clara

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Princess of the Silver Woods

princess of the silver woods

First of all, have you ever seen a more beautiful cape?

Anyway, that’s enough about gorgeous clothes. Princess of the Silver Woods is the final book in Jessica Day George’s 12 Dancing Princesses trilogy. If you didn’t guess from the lovely cover, this is a retelling of Red Riding Hood. It. Was. Awesome. Better than the two previous books combined.

Petunia, the youngest of the twelve princesses, is our heroine. She is “accidentally” abducted on her way to visit a friend, but eventually is released. But at the manor of the Duchess Volenskaya, she realizes that her old enemy, the King Under Stone, is back in business, and the princes she and her sisters used to dance with are still after their long-lost brides.

(*SPOILERS*)

My poor emotions. Towards the end of the books, it’s just like:

“He loves you, Petunia, can’t you see that? Kestilan really cares! And yes, Oliver does, too, but Kestilan… All the fezzes from Gallifrey, what’s going on with me?”

(END SPOILERS)

But seriously. This is an amazing book. I read it in two days.

You’ve got to read the series. It’s fast-paced, mysterious, and, most importantly, romantic.

Merci!

-Clara

https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Silver-Twelve-Dancing-Princesses/dp/1619631261/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1469129732&sr=1-1&keywords=princess+of+the+silver+woods

 

Princess of Glass

princess of glass

Princess of Glass is the sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball, which I reviewed here. This was a version of Cinderella, and it was probably one of the most interesting takes on that ever-popular fairy tale I’ve read.

I’ll be honest. I’ve never really liked Cinderella. There are just so many versions of it, it’s a bit cliché in my opinion. But every once in a while, a retelling comes along that completely grips me. This one did it.

Because the main character was not our Cinderella figure. She was Princess Poppy, one of the youngest of the twelve dancing princesses. She’s sixteen now and participating in a royal exchange program. While in Breton, she meets a servant girl named Eleanora, who goes by Ellen. It’s Ellen who is the Cinderella of this story.

She has been adopted as the goddaughter of the Corley, an evil witch. Of course, Ellen doesn’t know that. Poppy, who has experience with curses and dark magic, finds out that something’s up with Ellen enters a ball wearing an almost-exact copy of the princess’s dress, and then notices how the handsome Prince Christian has suddenly fallen head over heels in love with the mysterious “Lady Ella”. Eleanora has to make Prince Christian marry her or face the wrath of the Corley. It’s up to Poppy and some new friends to save her before it’s too late.

(There will be spoilers from this point onward.)

I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Princess of the Midnight Ball, mostly because of the way the conflict was resolved. It was much more mysterious than the first, but I was expecting the Corley to put up more of a fight at the end. She was defeated too easily. The King Under Stone was a much better villain.

Speaking of the King Under Stone, he’s in the third book, Princess of the Silver Woods, which I will be reading very soon.

Merci beaucoup!

-Clara

https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Glass-Twelve-Dancing-Princesses/dp/1599906597/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468872155&sr=8-1&keywords=princess+of+glass

 

Entwined

entwined cover

First of all, a shout-out to my fellow blogging book-lover, Literary Moose (you should totally check out her blog; she’s got some awesome stuff), for reading this and reviewing it. I wouldn’t have read it if she hadn’t posted about it, so thanks to her.

It was fantastic. From the gorgeous cover to the satisfying conclusion, I adored every page of this book. Mystery, romance, and magic… The perfect novel.

And Keeper… I don’t think I’ve ever liked a villain so much in my life, not even Loki from the Thor movies. He did get creepy at about halfway through, but I still liked him. It’s rather annoying, actually, to like someone you know you shouldn’t. But he was so handsome and charming, it was practically impossible not to love him.

This was the second retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses I read in a week (Princess of the Midnight Ball was the first), and this was definitely the best. At first, I didn’t expect to like it as much, since the girls wanted to dance, whereas they’d been forced to in the other. I liked that quite a bit. But then Keeper entered, and I couldn’t put it down.

Unlike Princess of the Midnight Ball, in this version of the fairy tale, the princesses wanted to dance. The twelve girls, all named after flowers, lose their mother at the book’s beginning, and during the year of mourning, dancing is not allowed. So they escape to Keeper’s magical, silver world. What the eldest princess, Azalea, doesn’t know is that there’s much more to the darkly handsome Keeper than what meets the eye. And before she understands what’s happened, she’s fighting for the lives of her entire family, including herself.

Told through Azalea’s point of view, the book has plenty of magic as Azalea slowly falls in love. Dixon did a marvelous job with the romance, too. It was a “I like him, but he’s perfect for her, too…” read. And the fact that the villain would have been a wonderful match for Azalea only made it even more riveting. The only thing I’d add would be a tad bit more romance between Keeper and Azalea. I think he should have at least faintly kissed her. But that’s just my romantic self talking.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Seriously. Read it. Even if you hate fairy tale retellings, this may convert you. This was by far one of the best books I’ve read in a long while.

Thanks!

-Clara B.

https://www.amazon.com/Entwined-Heather-Dixon/dp/0062001043

Princess of the Midnight Ball

First of all, you have my permission to call me crazy. Why? Because in less than a week, I read two versions of the exact same fairy tale: The Twelve Dancing Princesses, or the Shoes that were Danced to Pieces. The first was this lovely novel, Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball:

Princess_of_the_Midnight_Ball_cover

And it was splendid. If my memory serves me right, there was not a single use of a cuss word or a substitute. Not even a “OMG”, either, which made me extremely happy. (Please let me know if I’m wrong.)

This one was closer to the original story than the second one I read, Heather Dixon’s Entwined. The hero was a soldier, there were 12 princes to dance with the princesses, etc.

But what really had me hooked was the fact that the princesses didn’t want to dance.  They were forced to by the sinister King Under Stone, who wanted them to be wives for his twelve sons. That was probably the element I liked the most about the novel: arranged/forced marriages seem to make the best groundwork for novels (I’m quite fond of using betrothals for mine…. My BFF believes that I can’t write about anything else).

Anyway, the book’s heroine is Princess Rose, the eldest of twelve princesses all named after flowers. Their mother, who is dead, made a bargain with the King Under Stone because she was desperate for children, a male heir in particular. She had to dance once a month for a certain number of years. But every time she missed a night, she had to come more often. And when she died, it was her twelve daughters who had to dance.

The King, who is bewildered at the fact that brand new dancing slippers get worn out in under 24 hours, sends for different princes to come try to figure out the girls’ secret. They all fail. So Galen, a soldier-turned-gardener, who is acquainted with Princess Rose, decides to help. The King Under Stone finds out. And suddenly, Galen’s life is in danger, and each princess is about to marry a man they cannot stand.

Very, very good. A quick read- it took me less than 24 hours! Retellings of fairy tales are just wonderful. If you haven’t ever read one, find one and read it. It’s amazing how creative people can be.

-Clara B.

https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Midnight-Twelve-Dancing-Princesses/dp/1599904551/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1468286096&sr=1-1&keywords=princess+of+the+midnight+ball