Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

Title: The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest (Medieval Fairy Tale Romance #1)
Author: Melanie Dickerson 
Date Published: May 12th 2015
Publisher: Thomas Nelson 

Goodreads Blurb: 

"Swan Lake" meets Robin Hood when the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant by day becomes the region's most notorious poacher by night, and falls in love with the forester.
Jorgen is the forester for the wealthy margrave, and must find and capture the poacher who has been killing and stealing the margrave's game. When he meets the lovely and refined Odette at the festival and shares a connection during a dance, he has no idea she is the one who has been poaching the margrave's game.
Odette justifies her crime of poaching because she thinks the game is going to feed the poor, who are all but starving, both in the city and just outside its walls. But will the discovery of a local poaching ring reveal a terrible secret? Has the meat she thought she was providing for the poor actually been sold on the black market, profiting no one except the ring of black market sellers?
The one person Odette knows can help her could also find out her own secret and turn her over to the margrave, but she has no choice. Jorgen and Odette will band together to stop the dangerous poaching ring . . . and fall in love. But what will the margrave do when he discovers his forester is protecting a notorious poacher?

A retelling of Swan Lake, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest was as delightful as Melanie Dickerson's others books. 

Odette, a young lady, dedicates her life to feeding the poor. Throughout the day, Odette teaches the poor orphans of her village to read and write, and during the night, she takes up her bow and arrow to poach. The only problem is that poaching is illegal and punishable by death. Cue Jorgen, the margrave's forester, whose job is to take care of the forest and arrest any poachers. 

The main dilemma of this story is that Odette is in love with Jorgen but can't tell him that she is the poacher he's looking for. Comical at times, and downright sad at others, the plot had an amalgamation of engaging elements, including Mathias's jealousy, Odette's uncle's debt, and the supposedly ominous character of Lord Thornbeck. 

My experience with Barbie and the Swam Lake served as my background knowledge for this fairy tale. A few similarities I noticed were the name Odette, the swan costume, the little kids, and the deception (the one where the evil girl disguises herself as the heroine in order to trick the hero). 

Both Jorgen and Odette were orphaned during the great pestilence and faced a great deal of hardship, which helped them better understand each other. It was a bit like love at first sight, similar to how it was in Barbie and the Swan Lake. Both of them were kind-hearted and altruistic; they were a perfect match. I loved Odette; she was the classic Disney heroine in that she held herself with both aplomb and humility. And she didn't let others persuade her to change her ways. 

Very few serious issues were mentioned here, one of them being the morality of hunting and another being civil disobedience. The arguments Odette made weren't particularly unique but it was nice to see the author broach something serious in the midst of all the fairy tale-like ebullience and light-hearted drama. 

 The role of a girl who disguises herself as a boy to fight/poach is becoming more common in YA fiction. For example Defy by Sara Larson, The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace, Scarlet by AC Gaughen, and Dauntless by Dina Sleiman. But the concept was swimmingly integrated into all of these books, so I have no complaints. 

Ms. Dickerson has such wonderfully, aesthetically pleasing covers for all her books, and this one is no exception- the braid is beautiful and border on the bottom seems so whimsically classic. She is definitely my favorite medieval times author, and she captures the settings very accurately and contextually. 

The margrave, Lord Thornbeck was impenetrable and it was literally impossible to discern his motives and character until the very last few chapters. I won't give away which side he was one, but he was one of the more interesting characters who each need to have their own book. 

This book was a fun, sweet read and I recommend it to anyone who just wants to relax.