The Captive Maiden
Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela meets the duke's son, Valten--the boy she has daydreamed about for years--and learns he is throwing a ball, she vows to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined
I had high expectations for this book, and was eager to start it. Though I did like the story and the characters, I did feel the writing was a little lacking in places; it felt a little over-explained or simplified, and the two main characters second-guessing each others' motives so much wore on me after a little bit. However, despite these complaints, I did really like this book.
Though I wasn't sure if I would like Gisela at first (she was more on the rebellious and wild side than I usually think of when it comes to Cinderella) she did ultimately win me over. And Valten- well, I became intrigued with his character in The Fairest Beauty and wasn't disappointed here. I also liked seeing all of Valten's family again- especially his sisters. I heard Melanie Dickerson is working on another fairy tale retelling...hopefully it will be about one of them ;)
One thing that surprised me was that the "typical" part of the Cinderella tale was really only the first half of the novel here; the author took the plot completely down another path. Though I didn't mind this, I felt like the plot might have been dragged out a bit more than was needed. Parts of the romance aspect I really liked; other parts I didn't care for. (There wasn't much kissing until the end, but there was more than I usually like in my books). I liked The Captive Maiden more than The Fairest Beauty, I think. One thing I particularly appreciated was the absence of deception in the case of Gisela and Valten's relationship, both with each other and everyone else. It was a refreshing change from most YA fiction and probably my favorite part about the book. Though it's not one of my favorite fairy tale re-tellings, this book is still getting a pretty high rating- I can't help it. Despite it's faults, The Captive Maiden still captured the magic of the Cinderella story that I love so much.