Author: Melanie Dickerson
Series: Hagenheim #7
Genre: YA Fairytale Retelling
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Evangeline is the ward and cousin of King Richard II, and yet she dreams of a life outside of Berkhamsted Castle, where she might be free to marry for love and not politics. But the young king betroths her to his closest advisor, Lord Shiveley, a man twice as old as Evangeline. Desperate to escape a life married to a man she finds revolting, Evangeline runs away from the king and joins a small band of servants on their way back to their home village.
To keep her identity a secret, Evangeline pretends to be mute. Evangeline soon regrets the charade as she gets to know Wesley, the handsome young leader of the servants, whom she later discovers is the son of a wealthy lord. But she cannot reveal her true identity for fear she will be forced to return to King Richard and her arranged marriage.
Wesley le Wyse is intrigued by the beautiful new servant girl. When he learns that she lost her voice from a beating by a cruel former master, he is outraged. But his anger is soon redirected when he learns she has been lying to him. Not only is she not mute, but she isn't even a servant.
Weighed down by remorse for deceiving Wesley, Evangeline fears no one will ever love her. But her future is not the only thing at stake, as she finds herself embroiled in a tangled web that threatens England's monarchy. Should she give herself up to save the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?
This is not the first time I have finished a Melanie Dickerson book within hours of receiving it, as I always get completely sucked in to her stories. This book is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, which is not a fairytale I particularly like, but I really enjoyed this story.
Evangeline is sheltered in the castle, as a ward of the king, and never really allowed to go anywhere or do anything. When the king tells her he has betrothed her to a horrible man, Evangeline runs away. To protect her identity, she fakes mute, and joins a group of servants traveling home. Except their leader isn't a servant; he's the son of a lord.
While stories that start off with deception are not my favorite, this one was handled well. And all was revealed earlier than one might expect, making most of the story not about the deception, but about what else is going on, politically. Eva was very reminiscent of Ariel, with her wide-eyed wonder at all things, her eagerness, and of course her voice. While Wesley was your typical hero character - kind, caring, ready to save the day - there were some things I was not a fan of (when your "protection" takes away someone's agency as a woman, we're going to have problems).
But despite that, I did enjoy this story. It was fun, it was cute, and it was a fast read. I adore Dickerson's characters and settings and her stories in general and this one definitely lived up to my excitement. I loved the secondary characters in this one as well, as we got to see more of them, and just normal friend interactions, something Eva has never had before. The whole political mess was a bit meh, as I'm not sure realistically that would have really been able to happen. Overall, this was a great story and I loved it.
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