The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson is basically a retelling of "The Swan Princess," although I did find remnants of "Beauty and the Beast," but that could just be my opinion. This story is about a young woman who lives with her wealthy uncle. He has not forced her into any marriages and he allows her to have an education, which is unusual for the time they're in. She poaches deer in the margrave's forest at night to help feed the local poor population and during the day she teaches the poor children to read and write. She ends up having a couple of different suitors and has to decide which one to marry. One is for love and the other will provide the means to support the poor population. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens ;)
I really enjoyed this story because Odette is a woman who is doing what she believe is right based on her past experiences. However, when confronted about it with someone who sees it as wrong, she understands that is wrong as well. When she started poaching she wanted to do it to help feed the poor, but she didn't take into consideration what effect that would have on the wildlife in the forest or how it would affect the people who were in charge of taking care of the forest. I also enjoyed how "The Swan Princess" was incorporated into the story. Dickerson did a great job of keeping true to the story without the use of magic, but then again that's one of the reasons I love her books so much. The balance of the characters was pleasant to read about, and it was fun to learn about a character from a different person in the book. All in all it was a great read with a satisfying ending.
The main thing that disappointed me in this book was, once again, the romance. It may be that I just don't understand the 'instant love' type of thing, but it felt like it progressed to quickly. Not to mention the fact that the first kiss of the two main protaganists was in a public place. I could be wrong, but I just don't think that there would be enough privacy for that to happen. It may be that there were places for lovers to steal kisses, but it seemed like she went into situations where her reputation, and therefore her uncle's, could be compromised so I didn't understand why she put herself in those situations. Other than the romance developments, there wasn't a lot that I can think of to dislike about this book.
I give this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to YA readers of Christian Fantasy and Fairytale Retellings.
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