Historical fiction author Melanie Dickerson presents another medieval fairy tale, specifically aimed at adult readers. The first book in this series – The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest — was reviewed by CLJ in July/August 2015.
In The Beautiful Pretender, the king wants the Margrave of Thornbeck married to promote an alliance within his kingdom. The margrave invites 10 noblewomen to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for 2 weeks. During that time, he will chose his bride after testing their character.
Unbeknownst to him, the Earl of Plimmwald sends Avelina, a maidservant as a substitute for his daughter Dorothea who is unable to attend. Avelina was told to make sure the Margrave doesn’t select her and to keep her true identity a secret. But what happens when despite her efforts, the Margrave falls in love with her, and they find themselves in the midst of a plot with deadly consequences?
Dickerson combines elements of The Bachelor (TV reality show) with those of two fairy tales to create a story that holds the reader’s interest to the final chapter. Her careful research captures the nuances of medieval Germany. The characters are engaging, and the plot is well-developed. Loosely based on The Princess and the Pea, and The Beauty and the Beast, the reader will be captivated by Avelina’s story and delighted by its ending. Discussion questions are included in the back matter.
Recommended for public libraries and church libraries. Adult fans of Melanie Dickerson’s young adult novels will be thrilled with this new series, as will fans of fairy tales and the TV show Once Upon a Time.
Carol R. Gehringer