Reviews for Captive Maiden

Booklist Reviews 2013 December #1
Never was a Cinderella tale so fraught with menacing forces! Not only does Gisela have to contend with an evil stepmother and stepsisters who would move heaven and earth to prevent the local duke's handsome son from pursuing her, but the evil knight Ruexner will stop at nothing to imprison the poor girl and force her into marriage. Ruexner is locked in a long-simmering grudge match against Valten, the duke's son, who is equally smitten with our girl. Will Valten--attractive, honorable, and gifted with legendary fighting skills--overcome his nemesis to win his lady? How much luck can go Gisela and Valten's way as they try to escape one calamitous tight spot after another? Expect high romance, melodrama, and Christian inspiration in a vivid medieval setting. Even when she seems doomed, Gisela will swoon at the thought of her handsome rescuer's features: "How could he look so handsome with a bruised eye and dried blood at his temple?" Readers will appreciate Gisela's pluck as she participates in her rescue--make that rescues--from Ruexner. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 August #2
Weaving a heavy dose of romance into a familiar fairy tale, and revisiting the same family as in The Healer's Apprentice (2010) and The Fairest Beauty (2013), Dickerson has concocted another lavish medieval idyll. Abused by her stepsisters and her vicious stepmother (whose motivation is unclear), orphaned Gisela, whom they call "Cinders-ela," has never lost her spirit. She has secretly admired rugged Valten, Lord Hamlin, for years. After he falls for her, she sneaks out to attend a jousting tournament, where he selects her as his lady. Valten duels the dastardly knight Ruexner, who's driven to defeat him even if that requires cheating. Gisela's conniving relatives maliciously conspire to have Ruexner kidnap her with the intent to force her into marrying him, but heroic Valten comes to her rescue, ultimately aided by Friar Daniel (an annoying character seemingly inserted merely to provide ample prayers and homilies). While Valten and Gisela are attractive characters, others lack the spark of life. Though it gets off to a fine start, it gradually loses its way--at least partly through heavy-handed references to other tales in the series--needlessly extending an otherwise pleasant if uninspired romance. Nevertheless, meticulous period detail and the slightly steamy--though modestly chaste--evolving relationship between Gisela and Valten ultimately sustain this tale. (Historical romance. 11-16) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 October #3

Dickerson (The Healer's Apprentice) delivers a novel-length Cinderella story, complete with a damsel in distress and a charming duke's son. In Hagenheim, Bavaria, in the early 15th century, Gisela lives like a servant in her late father's home, while her stepmother and stepsisters sell off the horses Gisela loves. This compelling version of the familiar fairy tale dives into matters glossed over by shorter retellings. Jousting matches, swordplay, abductions, and other adventures allow Gisela's compassion and spirit to shine as much as the valor of her hero, Valten. The two must overcome evil Lord Ruexner, who lives to humiliate Valten and seeks to keep Gisela for himself. Two-thirds of the way through, the story turns into an extended homily on love and what makes a good match, aided by a deus ex machina--the wandering evangelical priest, Friar Daniel. Valten becomes humble and appreciates Gisela for her bravery as well as her beauty, and Gisela learns she is worthy. Ages 15-up. Agency: Books & Such Literary Agency. (Nov.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2014 January

Gr 6-10--Without magic dust or musical interludes, Dickerson delivers a wonderful spin on "Cinderella" that is full of engaging, thoughtful characters amid lively medieval pageantry. Gisela, 17, works as a servant for her wicked stepmother and stepsisters. When the Duke announces a grand tournament to celebrate the return of his oldest son, Valten, she risks everything to attend. A chance encounter with Valten changes their lives and sets off a dramatic chain of events. The measured pace incorporates suspenseful plot twists, keeping readers wondering if there will be a happily-ever-after ending. Readers of Dickerson's "Snow White"-inspired The Fairest Beauty (Zondervan, 2013) will recognize Gabe, Valten's younger brother, and Sophie, Valten's former betrothed. The character-driven story line focuses on Gisela's and Valten's individual growth as well as on their budding relationship. Detailed descriptions create a strong sense of a 1400s' medieval town, from the vibrant marketplace to the cold castles, to knights battling in front of a gallery of beautiful maidens in their finery. The setting emphasizes the limited options available to Gisela as a young maiden with no money or family. The inspirational and reflective tone shows her to be kind and forgiving despite her hardships, and Valten, brave and chivalrous, no longer seeks fame and glory, but rather welcomes the "idea of God-given purpose." This novel has lots of appeal for fans of fairy tales and of chivalry and knights.--June Shimonishi, Torrance Public Library, CA

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