the golden braid book coverPlease join Melanie Dickerson, author of The Golden Braid, as she tours the blogosphere with Litfuse Publicity!

Reviewed by Holly Madison

This was the first book I have read by Melanie Dickerson and for the most part, I found it to be a delightful and charming read.

As the title would hint, this is a book about Rapunzel, but unlike any other Rapunzel story I have come across. Rather than being set in a fantasy world full of magic and evil witches, this feels much more like something that could have happened in the real world (with a distinct German feel to the setting).

It centers around the 19+ year old Rapunzel with ankle-length hair, and she is more independent thinking than I imagine her fairy tale counterpart to be. While she does have a mind of her own, she is still very much under the thumb of her ‘mother’ Gothel, who seems inexplicably paranoid and afraid of Rapunzel talking with anyone besides her, singing in public, or even showing off her hair.

The story begins when a village boy asks Rapunzel to marry him. She turns him down gently, but Gothel is not comforted by this and hints that Rapunzel might change her mind or “give herself” to this boy if he prompts her hard enough. Dismayed, Rapunzel finds out from a neighbor that Gothel has decided to move them – yet again – to another village without even letting her daughter know. This time things are different though. The village in question turns out to be a fairly large city, one where Rapunzel hopes she can find someone willing to finally teach her how to read.

Along the way to their new home, they are assaulted by ruffians on the road and are rescued by a man named Ser Gerek. Gerek is injured while rescuing the ladies, and they accompany him to the city of Hagenheim. There is an instant connection between Gerek and Rapunzel, despite Gothel’s warnings that all men are evil and cannot be trusted. Once in the city, Gerek agrees to be Rapunzel’s secret reading instructor.

It doesn’t seem like much can come of Rapunzel and Gerek’s relationship. While handsome, he is also slightly vain and shallow, and seeks to marry only for riches, land, and position–traits that make him highly unlikable for me, despite his later redemption. Rapunzel certainly cannot offer all of these things to him, and of course her mother would never allow such a thing even if that were not an issue. One of the best parts of the book was watching the transformation of the characters as they become better than they were before. Gerek learns to forgive his family and himself, and Rapunzel learns to question things that, according to Gothel, she has no right to know.

As events start to unfold, Rapunzel discovers an incredible and disturbing secret about herself as well as Gothel, leading her to question everything she has ever known.

All around, this is a good, though predictable book. There are a few things that, for me, would have made it a lot more interesting. I don’t feel that it was necessary for Rapunzel to get married at the end of the book and have that be it. It’s a very predictable way to end this type of story and I understand why it was done, but I think too many young women look at marriage as the finish line, when it’s really the beginning. It would be nice to read a book based on a fairy tale where the main character can stand on her own two feet a little bit more and doesn’t need a man to prop her up.

The other thing I would change is the amount of religion in this book. It could easily be categorized as a Christian book due to the amount of references to the Bible and God. There is nothing wrong with this and it wasn’t necessarily preachy, but it also is very difficult for people to relate to who are not of this same religion. I would love to have seen Rapunzel find herself in poetry or some sort of incredible literature instead.

That being said, it is a personal preference and I doubt it will make people not want to read the book.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Holly has a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science and owns a small business with her husband selling fleece and hand-spun yarn. When she is not spinning yarn, she does freelance work as a graphic design artist and is highly involved in animal rescue.

Review copy was provided by Harper Collins Christian Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.