Today, we’re going to look at another work of historical fiction! This one’s also a fairytale retelling, so it was a win-win for me.
Title: The Beautiful Pretender
Series: A Medieval Fairy Tale
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA Historical Fiction; Fairytale Retelling
Rating: 4/5 stars
Overview: I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Melanie Dickerson’s books. Some of them are fantastic, pulling me in and leaving me with a happy sigh at the end. And then others are chores to get through, leaving me rolling my eyes at the end.
Fortunately, this book definitely fell into the former category. In fact, it’s safe to say that this is my favorite Dickerson book so far.
Characters: Avelina was a fantastic heroine! I related well to her and her feelings of unworthiness. She wasn’t one of those annoying “I’m a woman and I can do everything by myself” kind of characters, but she was strong in her own way and pretty self-reliant. It was a nice, realistic balance between the two extremes of female characters.
Reinhart was precious. I loved him and wouldn’t be opposed to marrying him myself. He’s your classic rugged, emotionally scarred swoon-worthy hero with a bit of a temper. You know, like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast.
Content: There are several kisses in this story, some of them semi-detailed. There are also quite a few longing thoughts (all approached from the perspective of self-control and not giving in to lust). These come usually alongside some (perhaps unnecessary) snuggles in dark, cramped quarters (brought about by the necessity of hiding for their lives; you know the type). Nothing goes beyond kissing, though.
One character has gotten together with a knight, and she’s now pregnant. This is referenced a few times and treated as wrong.
No language. Yay! 🙂
The characters are Catholic, so there are a few references to praying to saints, doing penance, and needing to repent of sins immediately prior to death.
Writing: Sometimes Dickerson’s writing can be a bit cheesy and… amateurish, I guess? This book successfully avoided that label, though. The story drew me in from page one and kept me captivated. Especially near the middle once the Big Reveal happened!
Summary: This was a delightful read, all the more so because it could easily have gone either way. It was a discreet Beauty and the Beast retelling that paid just enough homage to that tale to be considered a retelling while also veering enough away from it to be its own original story. I enjoyed every minute of it, and I recommend it to all fairytale and historical fiction lovers aged 14+.