The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson. Zondervan, 2013. 335p. (9780310724391)
I really enjoyed this story! In a fun twist Fairest Beauty ties into Melanie Dickerson’s previous book The Healer’s Apprentice; although if you haven’t read it I don’t want to spoil the story for you.
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.
The author does a great job retelling the classic fairy tale of Snow White while also infusing it with plenty of faith and gentle reminders about loving one’s enemy and listening to God’s guidance.
The story really pulled me in and for a while I was on the horse riding through the woods and not lying on my bed reading. I usually get completely absorbed by a story but in this case I can still vividly picture the scene in the forest.
The pace of the book was great right until the last chapter or two, then it felt a bit rushed and matters seemed to be settled and sorted out rather quickly and conveniently. But it did fit the story. I probably just wanted the ending drawn out a bit more so as to rejoice with Sophie more. But as Tolkien said in The Hobbit:
Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway. (pg 51, chap 3)
The books don’t really have to be read in any particular order, but if you can, I’d recommend reading The Healer’s Apprentice before reading The Fairest Beauty.
Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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