The Fairest Beauty / by Melanie Dickerson. 7.5.2013

Zondervan (January 22, 2013), ISBN 9780310724391
HS (Adult) Rating: 5

Award-winning Melanie Dickerson pens her third young adult novel loosely based on the story of Snow White.

In The Fairest Beauty, Duchess Ermengard fakes the death of her stepdaughter Sophie, driving her husband, Duke Baldewin, to disappear in despair. For over fifteen years, she convinces everyone the scullery maid Sophie she torments, is only an orphan girl. Even Sophie is unaware of her true identity. A former nurse, the only one left with knowledge of the deception, fakes her own death and travels to Sophie’s betrothed. But Valten is laid up with a broken leg and unable to come. His impulsive younger brother, Gabe, decides to rescue Sophie on his own.

He tells Sophie of her true identity, and convinces Sophie to escape with him because her life is in danger. When Gabe is severely injured by pursuing guards, they take refuge in the Cottage of the Seven. While he recuperates, Sophie and Gabe discover they are falling in love, but they are both betrothed to others. News reaches Gabe that Sophie’s father is not dead but alive, and he leaves to find out the truth. While he is away, the Duchess, in the guise of an old woman, visits Sophie in the Cottage of Seven with the intent of killing her.

Like her earlier books, the faith element is clearly evident. Sophie prays for her stepmother instead of hating her. Both Gabe and Sophie struggle with past hurts needing God’s healing. They also struggle to seek God’s will and act honorably with others.

Dickerson is a masterful storyteller with a carefully crafted plot, richly drawn characters, and detailed medieval setting. The reader is pulled into the story, forgetting it is based on a familiar tale. All of her books are a delightful retelling, but this one is her best so far!

Carol R. Gehringer, www.worthy2read.wordpress.com

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