The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest
by Melanie Dickerson
Adult / Christian / Romance / Medieval
Retelling of Robin Hood and Swan Lake
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher–thanks, Thomas Nelson!–for reviewing purposes, and wasn’t required to be positive or anything. These are my personal opinions.
THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST is quite an enjoyable read, one I accomplished in most of an afternoon. The writing seems at times almost deceptively simple, but perfect for the book, painting a rich tale of a young woman and a young man as they seek love, purpose, and God’s will amid mysterious plots against the gorgeous backdrop of medieval Germany.
I loved the main characters, Odette and Jorgen, and their well-written struggles. Odette had a little bit of growing on me to do, but I soon found myself quite fond of her. Jorgen was positively fabulous. His strength, humility, kindness, loyalty, all-around awesomeness… Plus he’s something of a writer/poet! That was adorable, despite how little it came into the story. He’s reason enough to read this book. 😉
The story itself was great. How Jorgen and Odette were pitted against each other had me quite worried, I can tell you! It was wonderful to watch their story unfold, and I loved how it switched often back-and-forth between both of their viewpoints. The romance is quite well written, sweet, heartfelt, amusing, and at times adorable. The rest of the plot I found to be quite well twined together, with much more going on than at first meets the eye, and a few surprising plot-twists. I was rather on the edge of my seat about how some of it would turn out!
It was a well-paced, quick read, and I enjoyed almost all of it, but the best parts were probably the dancing scenes–so gorgeous–and the final scene with the margrave near the end, which I positively LOVED! That whole scene completely made the book for me (although it was already awesome) and was just perfect. Allow me to just fangirl here for a moment…!
The setting is a well-drawn medieval one, detailed but entirely natural-feeling. I felt quite immersed! The village, the forest, the castle… all the gorgeous “costumes” if you will… and the many side-characters who added so much depth without getting confusing. I really felt as if I was in the community of the Thornbeck village and had known it always, as the heroine had.
As a double retelling, THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST felt at once delightfully retold, and yet original at the same time. The whole weaved together as a new story twined from parts of old ones reborn. The forest, archery, hunting, and helping the poor gave it a very Robin Hood feel, and there were several great nods to the old versions. I loved that both Odette and Jorgen had fairly Robin-Hood-like roles, which only made it more awesome. (Throughout, much of it put me in mind of BBC’s Robin Hood TV show–the good parts of it!) The Swan Lake areas were mostly in the second half of the book, and while I don’t know that fairytale super well, I think I noticed the key things and found them extremely well done, especially considering the lack of enchantment. The similarities to both old tales were fairly subtle but noticeable. I just loved picking out the retelling aspects and how uniquely they were handled!
Drawbacks? There were hardly any, to be honest. And the ones I found might not apply to most prospective readers… Odette grated on my nerves a few times and occasionally seemed selfish to me, but on the whole I loved her as the heroine. It’s set in medieval times, which as a whole I enjoy, but there is a tendency toward more realistic, gritty details, which I could do without, myself. That may just be me, though! It definitely made it feel more “real”, I suppose, but I prefer more fantasized medieval settings… I normally read YA, but this book is classified as Adult, and there are reasons for that; for one thing, a subplot I could have done without involving a house of prostitution; tastefully written, not much stated, but implied. As a reader of YA, this book is a tiny bit outside my normal reading zone; just thought I would mention that and say I recommend it for older teens/adults.
Overall, though, there’s not much I found to complain about in this book! Aside from my personal preference toward less realistic/gritty, and not reading much adult fiction, this book was otherwise basically flawless in my opinion. So if you don’t mind those, then it should be perfect. 🙂
THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST is a marvelous tale of adventure, mystery, re-tellings, love, and God’s amazing hand in life.
Back Cover Copy
A beautiful maiden who poaches to feed the poor.
A handsome forester on a mission to catch her.
Danger and love are about to unite in Thornbeck Forest.
The margrave owns the finest hunting grounds for miles around–and Odette Menkels spends her nights poaching his deer to feed the hungry orphans of Thornbeck. By day, Odette is a simple maiden who teaches children to read, but by night this young beauty has become the secret lifeline to the poorest of the poor.
For Jorgen Hartman, the margrave’s forester, tracking down a poacher is a duty he is all too willing to perform. Jorgen inherited his post from the man who raised him . . . a man who was murdered at the hands of a poacher.
When Jorgen and Odette meet at the Midsummer festival and share a connection during a dance, neither has any idea that they are already adversaries.
The one man she wants is bound by duty to capture her; the one woman he loves is his cunning target . . . What becomes of a forester who protects a notorious poacher? What becomes of a poacher when she is finally discovered?
Published May 12, 2015.
The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is the first in a new series of fairy tales for adults by Melanie Dickerson. I can’t wait to see what else is in store! She has also written several delightful books for young adults, also fairy tale retellings–what can I say; she has a talent in that direction–some of which I’ve read and greatly enjoyed! I’ve also reviewed The Princess Spy and The Fairest Beauty.
Find out more about Melanie Dickerson and her books: