Melanie Dickerson is another new author for me and though I have seen her around in the book catalogs I’ve never picked up any of her books until now. The Golden Braid is a retelling of the Rapunzel story and this book has an amazing and striking cover showcasing the heroine in vibrant rich colors! I was immediately drawn to it! Reading up on this book a little I also learned that it is a young adult (YA) story, it’s been a while since I reviewed one of those- and since the last YA I reviewed was set in this time period I was eager to dig into this one and see how they compared.
The Rapunzel story has been told and retold many times but this retelling has been very thoughtfully and carefully told. In short an evil mother keeps her daughter locked away in a tower where no one will ever see her great beauty or hear her beautiful voice. She is rescued by a handsome prince who breaches her prison by climbing her long hair. In this story there are great twists on the story from beginning to end! The story begins long before Rapunzel is locked in the tower- Rapunzel is eager to learn how to read and has dreams for her future, her mother is legit paranoid insane, and the prince turns out to be a grumpy but handsome knight! The extra twist on Rapunzel’s story is a great one that I don’t want to spoil but I will say I was pleased with it and it set things up for a really cool and satisfying ending!
In the beginning part of this book things sometimes seemed to be repetitious with facts gone over again and again but I don’t know if a teen reader would necessarily notice that and as the book progresses it does get better and begins bringing in new details and storylines. I really liked how there were several morals that were woven throughout the story including that of healthy relationships between both parent and child and between guys and girls. Sir Gerek was a true hero who demonstrated his dedication to his vows and acted honorably towards Rapunzel. There is a romantic element to the story, and yes, even some kissing and unchaperoned travel but through it all nothing felt it was ‘off’ or inappropriate to the characters and their ages (Rapunzel is 19 and Sir Gerek 23). This was something that was really nice to see in a YA book and I was pleased that the author balanced romance and purity well. Other themes were forgiveness, patience, and timing, and these were all well woven through the story and never felt like the reader was being bombarded with a religious or moral message.
As a side note, some retellings of Rapunzel have been questionable to me as they have presented a picture of joyful consequence free teenage rebellion but I didn’t feel this was the case in this book. This Rapunzel is a young woman of legal age and she only leaves her mother’s side when her mother’s madness takes a turn from bad to worse and Rapunzel’s safety is threatened. I felt it marked an appropriate time for her to move on and taught the reader about taking the right kind of actions for personal safety.
In the end, The Golden Braid was a great novel and I enjoyed it as much as I think a YA reader would! I would recommend it to any of the teen girls that I know!
Final Rating: 4.5
I have been given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.