Monday, June 1, 2015

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest (A Medieval Fairy Tale)

Title: The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest

Series: A Medieval Fairy Tale (Book #1)

Year: 2015

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Summary: "Swan Lake" meets Robin Hood when the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant by day becomes the region's most notorious poacher by night, and falls in love with the forester.

Jorgen is the forester for the wealthy margrave, and must find and capture the poacher who has been killing and stealing the margrave's game. When he meets the lovely and refined Odette at the festival and shares a connection during a dance, he has no idea she is the one who has been poaching the margrave's game.

Odette justifies her crime of poaching because she thinks the game is going to feed the poor, who are all but starving, both in the city and just outside its walls. But will the discovery of a local poaching ring reveal a terrible secret? Has the meat she thought she was providing for the poor actually been sold on the black market, profiting no one except the ring of black market sellers?

The one person Odette knows can help her could also find out her own secret and turn her over to the margrave, but she has no choice. Jorgen and Odette will band together to stop the dangerous poaching ring . . . and fall in love. But what will the margrave do when he discovers his forester is protecting a notorious poacher?
(from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Odette
~ Jorgen

Review: Just to make this clear right off from the start, this has been my favorite Melanie Dickerson book to date. The only thing that really brought this novel down in my estimation was the amount of romantic fluff. Really, without that, this was fantastic! Not only does Melanie Dickerson incorporate elements of two of my favorite fairy tales, but I thought this cast actually quite decent and not so cliche (as I previously stated in a review of another of her books). A heroine who doesn't melt into a puddle of sappiness, but instead keeps her name as a bow-wielding, big-hearted, courageous lass. AND a hero that brood around all the time. Definitely a big plus, in my opinion.

Odette is the huntress of Thornbeck Forest -- only no one knows because she's a poacher. Why is she poaching? To feed the homeless, starving orphans in her hometown. They have no one else looking after them, and Odette feels it's her duty to care for them. She's also been teaching them how to read and write (another thing that made me love her even more). Jorgen is the margrave's new forester, and the biggest task enveloping him is catching the elusive poacher who dares to hunt forbidden meat. The midsummer's festival provides the perfect setting for the two of them to meet, and things just go from there.

Melanie Dickerson wove the tale of Swan Lake so beautifully into this novel! Given the unique plot/setting/characters of that particular fairy tale, I was skeptical going into this book as getting a retelling that was faithful to the original story AND still stood as a wonderful story in its own right is difficult to accomplish. Yes, I love Swan Lake, so I had big expectations. And they were met. I was truly surprised with how many nods the author gave to the original tale. [Highlight for spoilers] From Jorgen's declaration of love to the wrong girl to his wanting to think Odette a monster and shooting her... just wow. Two thumbs up in that respect. Also, other than Odette being the one to "rob from the rich to feed the poor," there really isn't anything else linking this story to a Robin Hood retelling. Most of it is just Swan Lake. So, on that note, I kinda think the summary off. Personally, the entire Goodreads summary is off, but the one on Amazon is much more accurate. Weird, that. Anyway...

One complaint I would make would be to concern pacing. The beginning I felt was slow, and I had to force myself to keep reading through the first chapter or so. There was a lot of description of the forest and Odette's hunt, which was really cool, but it felt just a little bit lagging. 

Advisory: Like I mentioned before, this book's got a bunch of the romantic in it. If that's up your alley, that's fine, but for me, it was kinda over the top. There wasn't as much of the physical attraction like I've seen in Melanie Dickerson's other novels, but there were quite a few kisses. [Highlight for spoilers] Personally, I was disgusted when Jorgen got tricked into kissing the wrong woman. I can see how that adds to the story, but I would have rather had that not in there. So that's the romance. I'll get off my soapbox now.

Also, I would warn of a certain disreputable establishment known as the Red House. Gambling, women, and the like... it's not a nice place. Nothing is described, but I was uncomfortable with some of the hints some of the less-than-savory characters dropped. For that, I would recommend this book for slightly older readers. 

And then just your typical fantasy adventure/danger stuff. Odette is a huntress, so there are some descriptions of her hunts (i.e. having to clean the deer and all). [Highlight for spoilers] Someone is shot with two arrows, and later the wounds turn septic. But nothing overly graphic. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Related Reviews: The Captive Maiden

                               The Princess Spy

Click here to buy a copy of The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest on Amazon!

*Please note: I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.*

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