Set in the fictional medieval German town of Hagenheim, this historical romance covers the eight-month period before Lord Hamlin, the duke's eldest son, weds his betrothed, Lady Salomea, who's being kept in hiding from the evil Moncore, a conjurer determined to control her with demonic possession. But Hamlin's first meeting with the young beauty, Rose (supposedly the woodcutter's daughter, training with the castle healer), reveals that they are a match made in heaven; their shared moral rectitude and devotion to duty place many obstacles in their path before Rose's true identity can be revealed. Alternating between the two protagonists' viewpoints, the plot unfolds at a satisfying clip with zesty supporting characters (the healer, the duke's younger son), which add intrigue. A light-handed Christian subtext weaves seamlessly through the novel: illness, injury, and malevolence are all combated "in the name of Jesus." Dickerson combines fairy tale ambience (an unkind stepmother, a rat-filled dungeon, a caricature of a bad guy) with historical touches like herbal remedies, musical instruments, and architectural details to create a colorful and convincing atmosphere in this strong debut. Ages 15–up. (Sept.)
Rose, a simple woodcutter's daughter, has been named apprentice to the healer of Hagenheim Castle in lower Saxony. Rose intends to do well. If she fails, Rose will be forced marry the old man her mother has picked out for her. VERDICT This well-written, character-driven YA novel will appeal to both teens and adults who like Karen Cushman's historical fiction for its honesty and humor.
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Set in 1386, this historical romance has a fairy-tale structure and a Christian emphasis. Rose serves as the apprentice to Frau Geruscha, the court healer. She is not very good at her chosen profession, yet she sees this as her only hope to escape the prospect of an arranged marriage. Enter Lord Hamlin, to whom Rose must minister after he is injured. She falls hard for him, and he for her, but neither can admit their feelings due to her social status and his betrothal to Lady Salomea. Rose soon catches the eye of the philandering Lord Rupert, Lord Hamlin's brother, and a romance ensues. But alas, Rupert breaks her heart with a proposal she is unwilling to accept, which makes her realize that she never loved him in the first place. Lurking in the shadows is the evil Moncore, who has driven Lady Salomea into hiding because he threatened her life. The identity of Lord Hamlin's betrothed is transparent from the start, so anticipation is built around how the two lovers will get to the "happily ever after." Rose is beautifully boring, and not very well developed, but is believable as the young maiden longing for a prince to rescue her. She and Hamlin rely on their faith to make their dreams come true. Fans of fairy tales will enjoy this story.—Wendy Scalfaro, G. Ray Bodley High School, Fulton, NY
In this debut romance set in Hagenheim, Lower Saxony, in 1382 and loosely based on "Sleeping Beauty," a lowly woodcutter's daughter apprenticed to the town healer falls in love with a handsome nobleman who's betrothed to a mysterious woman. Although she's grateful to the healer for teaching her to read and write and freeing her from the need to marry, 17-year-old Rose quickly loses her heart when she meets Wilhelm, Lord Hamlin. Wilhelm's equally smitten, but he's promised to a woman he's never met and can't wed until he captures the evil conjurer whose threats forced her parents to hide her 17 years ago. When Wilhelm's carousing younger brother insistently woos Rose, she feels flattered but conflicted. Should she forget both brothers and remain single, or could there be a fairy-tale finale? The medieval German setting and fastidious details of period clothing, food, music and dance provide an ideal context for this courtly romance between two young lovers who choose duty, virtue and honor above self-interest. Female readers should savor this romantic fare. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)