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From New York Times bestselling author comes The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest!
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 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?
About the Author
Melanie Dickerson is a New York Times bestselling author and a Christy Award winner. Her first book, The Healer’s Apprentice, won the National Readers’ Choice Award for Best First Book in 2010, and The Merchant’s Daughter won the 2012 Carol Award. Melanie spends her time daydreaming, researching the most fascinating historical time periods, and writing stories at her home near Huntsville, Alabama, where she gathers dandelion greens for her two adorable guinea pigs between writing and editing her happily ever afters. Visit her online at MelanieDickerson.com; Facebook: MelanieDickersonBooks; Twitter: @MelanieAuthor.
Read an Excerpt
The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest
A Medieval Fairy Tale
By Melanie Dickerson
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Melanie Dickerson
All rights reserved.
The year 1363, in the northeast German reaches of the Holy Roman Empire, the Margravate of Thornbeck
The tip of the arrow found its mark, a perfect shot through the deer's heart and lungs. The animal took two steps forward, then a side step, and fell over.
Odette's five men—more boys than men, as they were around thirteen or fourteen years old—darted out of the cover of the bushes and ran toward the animal that would feed at least four families. They began to cut it apart and prepared to carry it, and all evidence of it, away in their leather game bags.
But far more than four hungry families and many orphaned children inhabited the town of Thornbeck, so Odette motioned to the two boys looking to her. They set off deeper into the forest that was the margrave's game park. The only one reaping the good of Thornbeck Forest, rightfully, was the margrave. He could spare a few deer to feed the poor. He could spare them quite well.
Odette moved through the trees and undergrowth, trying to step as quietly as possible. The two boys stayed behind her. The moon was full, the night sky was clear of clouds, and enough light filtered through the trees to help her find her way to another of the harts' favorite feeding spots. Either a salt deposit was there or the grass was particularly sweet, because that was where she often found her most desired prey—fully grown red deer—with their necks bowed low as they ate.
Odette came within sight of the spot and crouched to wait, holding her longbow and an arrow at the ready. Soon, a hind moved soundlessly into the small clearing. Odette's fingers twitched in anticipation of the meat that would assuage the hunger of many people, but the twinge of pity that pinched her chest kept her from raising her bow and taking aim. It was summer, tomorrow being St. John the Baptist Day, and the hind no doubt had at least one newborn fawn, possibly two or three, hidden away somewhere, waiting for her to come back and nurse them.
Creating more orphans, even of the animal kind, went against everything Odette strove for, so she resisted taking the shot. Instead, she sat waiting and watching. After a few minutes, her breath stilled as a large stag with huge antlers stepped up beside the hind. He kept his head high as he seemed to be listening.
Odette swiftly raised her bow and pulled the arrow back. She pressed her cheek close to take aim and let the arrow fly.
Just at that moment, the stag must have caught wind of her or heard a noise because he turned and leapt away in one fluid movement, and the hind was less than a moment behind him. Odette's arrow missed them and disappeared in the night.
With the boys behind her, she went to search for the arrow. She did not want the margrave's forester finding it. She was careful to poach only one or two large animals a night, and it was important to take away all evidence that they had been there.
Where was that arrow? Odette went to the spot where it should have landed, beyond where the deer had been standing. She hunted around the bush, then parted the leaves to peer inside and underneath, searching for the white feather on the end. She felt around on the ground. No white feather and no arrow.
Her men were searching a little farther away. Suddenly, she heard laughter. She lifted her head, much like she had seen the deer do many times, and listened. Her two men looked at her, their eyes wide.
Voices drifted toward them, too far away for her to make out the words, but they seemed to be growing nearer. She clenched her teeth. Why couldn't she find that arrow? With reluctance, she motioned for the young men to follow her and moved away, back toward the town. She couldn't let anyone see her here, not with a longbow and a quiver of arrows on her back. The penalty for poaching was imprisonment, being fastened in the pillory in the town square, or having one's hand or ear cut off.
The voices likely belonged to people looking for special herbs and flowers to burn in the Midsummer bonfire the next night. Tomorrow even more people would be out in Thornbeck Forest, wandering into the margrave's game park. It would be too dangerous to go out hunting at all. If only she had not missed that stag.
She backtracked toward the three men she had left to take the hart she had killed earlier. They were hoisting the various pieces of meat over their shoulders and across their backs to carry out of the forest. They paused to kick the leaves and dirt over the bloody evidence of their kill.
As Odette approached, they turned and froze.
"It's me," she whispered. "We need to leave. People are coming this way."
They nodded as one of them dragged a tree limb over the ground to further disguise the evidence of their kill.
Just before they reached the edge of the forest, Odette pulled an old gray cloak out of her pouch and used it to cover her longbow and arrows, tucking them under her arm. She called to the young men, "Wait."
They stopped and looked at her.
"Give me one of those bags. I will deliver it."
They exchanged glances. Then the tallest boy said, "Rutger said we should deliver all the game to his storehouse, for him to distribute."
"I will tell him that I delivered this bag." She lifted a heavy haunch of venison off his shoulder. "He will not mind."
The boys continued on, but Odette, dressed as a boy with a long dark tunic and hose, her blond hair hidden inside her hood, went in a different direction.
She headed for the little hut just outside the town wall, a place where many of the poorest people lived in makeshift shelters. She knocked on the house that was leaning to one side and held up with sticks, and little Hanns opened the door, peeking around the side and rubbing his eyes with his fist.
"I'm sorry for waking you, Hanns."
"Shh." She put her finger to her lips, then whispered, "I brought you something. In the morning you will have some fried venison for breakfast. How does that sound?"
Hanns stopped rubbing his face, his mouth fell open, and his eyes got round. As Odette held out the leather bag, the air rushed out of him with an excited, "Oh!"
"Don't wake your mother now. You can surprise her in the morning."
"I will!" Without closing the door, he turned and, straining to carry the heavy meat, disappeared inside the dark one-room, dirt-floor house.
Odette closed the door and turned to hasten home while it was still dark.
* * *
Jorgen Hartman knelt before the altar of Thornbeck Cathedral and bowed his head. As it was the feast day of St. John the Baptist, he and many other people from town had come to pray. Some of the townspeople had brought herbs to the church for the priest to bless, which should give the herbs special healing abilities. Others, like Jorgen, were there because they had missed the midday Mass and wanted to offer prayers on this holy day.
Jorgen finished praying and rose to his feet. As he did, a woman several feet away caught his eye as she lighted a candle. She was lovely, with long blond hair that fell in curls down her back from underneath her veil. In the candlelight, her face seemed to glow with piety and sweetness. He drank in the beauty of her facial features as she knelt, making the sign of the cross. But then she drew the veil over her face as she bowed in prayer.
Since he didn't want to stand and gawk at her profile, still visible beneath the veil, he made his way to the other end of the nave, perusing the stained glass windows depicting various stories and people of the Christian faith. He focused on the one where John the Baptist baptized his cousin Jesus and the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove. He'd always loved the brilliant colors of the windows and had often slipped into the nave as a boy, hiding in a corner to stare at the depictions and their bright reds and blues, greens and yellows.
The beautiful girl finally stood and was joined by a man. Was he her husband? Holy saints, let him be her father.
As they made their way toward the door, he tried not to stare. She passed by him and out the cathedral door without ever looking his way.
Perhaps he would see her at the Midsummer festival in a few hours.
Jorgen went to visit his friend Paulin, who had broken his leg and was not able to go to the Midsummer festival. Afterward, Jorgen joined with the crowds who were flowing toward the sound of the Minnesingers in the town center. Young maidens skipped along in their flowing dresses, carrying bouquets of flowering herbs and wearing woven crowns of white wildflowers.
There would be a bonfire in the Marktplatz and dancing, and unmarried maidens would be alert to find their future husbands. Now that he was nearing five and twenty years, even his mother had approved of him coming to the Midsummer celebration.
Winking, she had said, "Perhaps if you dance with some pretty maidens, one of them will dream of you tonight."
He kissed her wrinkled cheek. "You should pray that whoever dreams of me tonight will be a good daughter to you."
"I will and do not doubt it." Her tone was gentler now. "She will be a good girl indeed to deserve you."
He touched her cheek and looked into her faded blue eyes. "Thank you, Mama."
Now he looked around and wondered which of the maidens, if any, his mother was praying for. Already he had seen a pretty red-haired maiden glancing back at him, and a raven-haired girl of perhaps sixteen smiling and waving at him.
As he drew nearer the center, moving slowly because of the dense crowd, the smell of fresh bread made him take a deep breath.
A baker stood outside his shop holding a tray of bread rolls. A small boy, perhaps six years old and dressed in rags, stood at the corner of the shop, his head peeking around from the alley where an even smaller girl stood behind him.
He caught his breath. It was little Helena.
No, Helena had been dead for more than fifteen years. The sight of her bloody body, lying in the street where the horse had trampled her, flashed through his mind like lightning. Her bright eyes stared up, and her mouth moved wordlessly as she fought to draw breath into her crushed chest. He could still feel her body growing cold in his arms while heartless, frowning faces stared down at him, and a man shouted at him to get out of the street.
The tiny girl who now stood in the narrow side street was not looking back at Jorgen. Instead, she was looking anxiously at the little boy peering at the baker and his bread. The look of desperation in the boy's face seemed familiar. Jorgen watched, knowing what the boy was about to do, but also knowing he would not be able to get through the people in time to stop him.
The boy darted around the corner and ran toward the baker, staying close to the wall of the shop. While the baker was handing two rolls to a woman who placed a coin on the baker's tray, the boy ran by and snatched a roll.
Perhaps he had not seen the woman on the other side of the baker, but she had seen him. She grabbed the back of the boy's neck with one hand and his arm with the other. "Thief!" she cried.
The boy dropped the bread and threw all his weight in the opposite direction, but the woman was too strong for him. Her grip held firm. The boy yelped.
From his view of the side street, Jorgen saw the girl child cover her face with her hands and her shoulders start to shake. Even though she couldn't see the boy from where she stood, she undoubtedly heard his pleading for the woman to let him go.
"A few hours in the pillory will do you good, you little knave." The woman gave his ear a twist. Though his face twitched in pain, he did not cry out.
Jorgen broke away from the crowd and stepped in front of the woman and her captive.
"Frau, pardon me," Jorgen said, causing the woman to look up at him. "The child left home without his money. Will you accept this to pay for the bread he dropped on the ground?" He held out two coins to her, enough to pay for four of the baker's rolls.
The dark cloudiness of her expression changed as she looked at his money and then back at his face.
"I'm sure the child is sorry." He placed his hand on the boy's shoulder and stepped even closer.
"I suppose ... but if he learns to steal now," she muttered, "he'll be a thief all his life ... naught but a thief." She accepted the money, took three more rolls off her husband's tray, and handed the bread to Jorgen.
"I thank you." He nodded to her and nudged the boy as they backed away from her.
When they were a few steps away, with the boy staring up at the bread in Jorgen's hand, he pulled the boy aside and squatted so he could look the child in the eye. "Here is the bread, but do not steal. Next time you might be punished."
The little boy drew himself up, squaring his shoulders and lifting his chin, as if trying to look taller. "I am not afraid."
"Of course not. But your little sister would be very frightened if you were taken to the town square and fastened in the pillory."
The little boy glanced behind him at the girl who was standing at the corner of the alley, sniffling and staring at them both.
The little boy's shoulders slumped. "Can I go now?"
Jorgen's heart constricted at the look on the boy's face. "Do you have a mother or father?"
"I have a mother."
"Where do you live?"
He pointed in the direction of the alley. "With my mother's sister, but she says she cannot feed us."
"If you need food, go to the gamekeeper's cottage. Do you know where it is?"
"Outside the town gate, in the margrave's forest?"
"That is where I live. My mother will give you food if I am not there."
The expression in his eyes was much older than his years. Finally, the boy nodded. Jorgen walked him back to his sister, and the boy handed her a bread roll. They both put the bread in their mouths and bit into them. Then they turned and started down the alley side by side.
"Wait." He couldn't bear to let them leave with only a few small rolls. While he felt around in his pocket, he asked, "What is your name?"
"Martin, do not lose this." He handed him some coins. "Buy some food for yourself and your sister."
The whites of the boy's eyes flashed, as did his teeth, as he finally smiled. "Thank you." He grabbed his sister's hand and ran away.
Jorgen turned back in the direction of the town center and Marktplatz, blinking to try to erase the memory that the boy and his little sister had brought to the surface. The sounds of lute, hurdy-gurdy, and a Minnesinger's voice singing a familiar ballad lured him on toward the music and dancing, where he might forget that he was ever as poor, hungry, and desperate as the two children he had just seen.CHAPTER 2
Odette's friend Anna held up a braided wildflower circlet and placed it on Odette's head. "Now you are ready for the Midsummer festival."
"Do you not think I'm getting too old to dress like the other unmarried maidens on Midsummer?"
"Of course not. You are unmarried, are you not? You'll be the fairest maiden in the town square."
Odette embraced her friend. "And you'll be the fairest married woman there."
Anna laughed. "And the sleepiest. The baby woke me up three times last night."
They stood admiring each other in the large ground-floor room of the half-timber house where Odette lived with her uncle. Odette wore the lightweight, white linen overdress that all the maidens wore on Midsummer's Eve, while Anna wore a beautiful blue cotehardie with cutaway sides and a decorative belt.
One of the maidservants came down the stairs with the cloths, brushes, and bucket she used for cleaning the upper floors.
Had Odette hidden her bow and arrows before going to bed just before dawn? The sick feeling in her stomach told her she had forgotten.
Trying to hold on to her smile, Odette squeezed her friend's arm. "Wait here while I go do something."
Odette rushed up the stairs to her bedchamber on the third floor and nearly ran into her uncle in the stairwell. "Uncle Rutger. I didn't see you. Did Heinke clean my chamber?"
He shrugged. "She may have. Did you need her to do something for you?"
"It's nothing. I just need to ..." Odette hastened away without finishing her sentence. Inside her chamber, the flagstone floor was swept clean and the bedclothes were straightened. But the old cloak she used to cover her longbow and arrows was lying folded across her bed.
Odette scurried to her trunk against the wall. She yanked off the bear fur that lay over it and raised the lid. Her longbow and arrows were not inside.
Glancing around frantically, she caught sight of them leaning against the wall in the corner. How could she have left them in plain sight?
"Is that what I think it is?"
Odette spun around. Rutger stood in the doorway. Her uncle was only a bit taller than she was, and he was thin, with thinning brown hair.
"Oh. I didn't hear you there." Her heart thumped against her chest, and she hurried to grab the cloak off her bed, then to the corner where her weapons were resting against the wall. She wrapped the bow and arrows in the cloak.
"Did you not think it would be a good idea to hide that from view?" Rutger quirked up one side of his mouth.
"Of course. I never leave them out where anyone can see them. Last night I must have forgotten." She cringed as she placed them into the trunk and closed the lid, then drew the bearskin over it.
Odette closed her eyes and tried to take a deep breath. Heinke would not tell anyone that Odette owned a longbow and arrows, would she? And even if she did, they would never suspect the niece of a respectable merchant of poaching ... would they?
Excerpted from The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson. Copyright © 2015 Melanie Dickerson. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My review from inkwellreviews.com (Christian book review site) I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get tired of the same old historical/romance and suspense and intrigue books. It always seemed like there was nothing more out there for a reader like me. I wanted something different, intriguing. Then I came across Melanie Dickerson, who writes in the medieval time period, and her books are usually based on a fairy tale. This concept got my attention and therefore I thought I would give it a try. From the start I was enthralled. Like I said, it was so fresh. I had never read anything like it before. Her characters were also very realistic. Writing in the medieval time, I presume, is hard to do, yet she did it exceptionally. Her writing……. The only way I know how to describe it is flowing. The whole book just flowed. No lack of knowledge of what was going on, no boring parts, etc. Like fairy tales, some of the stories are predictable, examples being Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Which is not bad at all, it will leave you with the warm and fuzzies. This one was based loosely on Swan Lake and Robin Hood. For me, Robin Hood is one my favorite fairy tales, so maybe that’s why I like it so much. If you want something that is fresh and new from your daily book routine, I think you should give it a try. I added one of Melanie Dickerson books to my rotation and it keeps it, like I said, new and fresh.
The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest was another delightful tale from Melanie Dickerson. I absolutely loved the book. Just as her fairy tale series before, this one did not disappoint. I appreciated the Ms. Dickerson kept the elements of fairy tales in the story without letting them take over the book. It was an exciting read, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The characters were elegant and interesting. Overall, it was a fantastic read and I recommend it for anyone who likes romance, medieval romance, or just loves good books!
Enjoyable story and characters.
This is a story I really enjoyed reading. A Medieval fairy tale for youngsters and grownups with Christian themes! Some have referred to it as a Robin Hood tale with a beautiful maiden who poaches to feed the poor and a handsome forester on a mission to catch her. I would agree, Odette did rob from the King to feed the poor. I enjoyed the cat and mouse game of the poacher and the gamekeeper. The topics of abuse, being homeless and hungry, the poor and the rich made this story so real. I loved the suspense of Odette getting caught. I kept wanting to know just what were they going to do with her when Jorgen catches her? The punishment for poaching and stealing from the King could be death! I did not imagine this ending, but I loved how it did end. I recommend this Medieval fairy tale because it will keep you interested and entertained though the whole book. I was gifted a copy by NetGalley to review and give my honest opinion.
Its a great combo of the Swan Princess and Robinhood. I fully enjoyed reading it! I'm looking forward to more books from this author.
4.5 stars. It's hard to know how to describe a book that did so much for me. I love fairy tale retellings, and this is a fantastic addition to that genre. Take every good feeling you've ever had and put them in a book, and it's this one. It just made me smile. I swear, I had perma-grin the whole time I was reading! I started out thinking that I was going to be annoyed by Odette. At first glance, she seems like a typical damsel in distress, just waiting for Prince Charming to come sweet her off her feet and solve all her problems. Not so. Pretty quickly, you learn that she's got some amazing depth to her and she's working hard to do her part to help the people around her. She puts her own life in jeopardy more than once as she tries to feed those who can't take care of themselves. I was very impressed with her. She puts on her public face, which comes across as kind of helpless, but then she's got a solid backbone when it counts. I really like the contrast. She totally uses it to her advantage, because who on earth would possibly suspect her?! I also really liked Jorgen. He's one of those swoon-worthy guys who makes your knees weak. He's the complete opposite of Mathis, who made me feel kind of squicky anytime he was on the page, (view spoiler). Now that guy, I could do without. Jorgen, on the other hand, please give me more! He's the guy who does the right thing for the right reasons. He's the guy who stands up for the underdog. He's the guy you want to bring home to Mom and Dad. He's the perfect gentleman and he means it. No acting with him. The story was fantastic and very engaging. It's not a fast paced, action story, so don't go in expecting that. It's a slow burn, but so very worth it! It actually kind of reminds me of the lazy Sunday drives that I used to take through the mountains. Very refreshing, relaxing, and worth every second spent. This is a story that I'll go back to again and again. **I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my feelings about the book.**
Odette is spunky, and she kind of reminds me of a female Robin Hood. She poaches deer from Thornbeck Forest and gives the meat to the poor. Jorgen is the forester. One of his jobs is to track down the poachers. Both characters have similar histories, though they think they are very different from one another. Neither thinks the other would ever be interested in them romantically. Their story is a cute one, but there is also some drama, and danger, and betrayal in the mix. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and love the way this author tells a story.
This was very good! I enjoyed every minute reading this. I wasn't expecting what was goin' to happen. Which is good. Most of the time I can predict what happens in the books I read and it gets old. This book had me so excited! I didn't know what was goin' to happen, and it was new and REALLY good. Different, really. This is the first book I've read from this author. She's really good at what she does. I can't wait to read the next book!
An interesting twist on the story of Swan Lake! I can't say this has been my favorite of Ms. Dickerson's novels, but I can say I really liked the main characters, Odette and Jorgen. I loved Odette's heart and her compassion for the poor children. Jorgen had compassion too, but also integrity, which I admired. The side characters were okay, in my opinion. They didn't always feel real. Though, once the story began wrapping up, their actions and behavior made more sense. As far as the plot and story, I enjoyed the tension following Odette's secret. It kept the pages turning, for sure! I was personally very interested to see the "Swan Lake" twist, and I wasn't disappointed. However I would have liked to have seen more of that story incorporated. To wrap this up, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest was a nice afternoon read, despite its disappointments. I look forward to reading what Ms. Dickerson has in store for the next in this series, The Beautiful Pretender. If you like historical fairy tales retold, you just might like this one. :-) I checked this book out at my local library, no review required.
A delightful fairy tale for the little girl inside. I love the main characters in this story. Both Odette and Jorgen had very difficult childhoods after they were each orphaned. But they have both risen above those days. Their hearts and characters were developed through those trials. I thoroughly enjoyed how Melanie combined aspects from both Swan Lake and Robin Hood in this charming and original story. It is a very entertaining book. It was very interesting for me to try and figure out which of the characters turned out to be the evil person (or people) that were trying to destroy their lives.
I loved the way this author took a beloved story and made it realistic with great lessons learned including spiritual ones.
Few people know that the pretty noblewoman Odette harbors a dangerous secret—she poaches in the margrave’s forest. But how can it be wrong when she does it for a good reason, feeding the poor children of the town? Or so Odette believes. Unfortunately, however, she finds herself attracted to the forester, a man whose job it is to capture poachers and whose father was killed by a poacher, making him more determined than ever to capture her. Melanie Dickerson has done it again—created a captivating tale of romance, danger, and faith. She twisted the stories of “The Swan Princess” and “Robin Hood” with a bit of her own imagination to create a fantastic novel very difficult to put down. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest captures the depth of the characters’ love for each other and struggle to do the right thing and follow God in difficult situations. The romance was filled with misunderstandings. Other characters play into the story and trick Odette and Jorgen into making more misunderstandings. Odette is also torn between her attraction to Jorgen and her apparent duty to marry a different suitor. It definitely made for an interesting story. Sometimes, I wished Odette would simply tell Jorgen the truth since I could tell by his character and past experiences that he would forgive her, but I understand her fear and reasons not to tell him. The setting of this book was well done. The historical facts appear accurate and detailed, making the story come alive. In addition, the use of the German titles and words added to the authenticity of the setting. The spiritual aspect added depth to the novel. Odette’s inward struggles over whether she was doing the right thing helped her grow. And Odette’s and Jorgen’s faith and upright character provided good role models for the reader to copy. The ending was slightly unbelievable. It was a good ending, including everything that one wanted to happen. But the way in which it occurred did not seem very plausible. In addition to telling a lovely romance, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest touches on the issue of human trafficking. Human trafficking is not a new problem, and this historical novel definitely portrays that fact. A couple of the characters venture into the local brothel for various, upright reasons and try to help one of the young ladies working there. They discover it is much harder to do so than simply sneaking her out the door. The teenager is plagued with guilt for leaving. I cannot help but think that this situation is true to life—that those in power over the sex trade use whatever means necessary to make their subjects willing, even wrongfully using guilt. We need to rise up as a people to put a stop to it once and for all. Overall, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest was a fantastic romance filled with action, misunderstanding, and issues relevant to the modern reader. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes young adult romances. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I enjoed this book. This book has great characters and a great plot. I had a hard time putting this book down.
A perfect YA romance! A perfect young adult romance story—from the author’s pleasurable voice, lovable characters and enjoyable plotline. Dickerson writes with flair, keeping your interest through the whole book. Recommended.
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. (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.)
Melanie Dickerson is an expert story teller. She creates worlds where you fall in love with the male hero and long to be the female heroine. Each of her books has an essence of purity, adventure, faith and excitement. Her books are enjoyable to read as an adult and amazing enough to share with my 11 year old twin daughters. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest has quickly become of on my favorite Dickerson titles. At the conclusion of reading the first chapter...I knew that I was hooked and was quickly enthralled with Odette and Jorgen. Odette is the main character and heroine in The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. If her name and title of the book bring images of The Swan Princess or Robin Hood...it is intentional. As in all of Melanie's books...there is a hint of a familiar fairy tale woven into her stories. Odette is a strong-willed but gentle person who has a heart for the orphans in her village, but she also has the courage to do something about it. She places herself, her family and her legacy at risk as she continues to help those that are less-fortunate then herself. Her plans, while risky, seem to work smoothly until she meets Jorgen. Jorgen. Wow! The moment he spoke...I was in love. He is kind, dependable, hard working, fair, honest and most of all faithful. Faithful to his family, to God, to his boss and even to his friendship with Odette. If ever there was a character that was swoon worthy...it is Jorgen. Odette is also a "swoon worthy" character....she has a love for theology (although no one can know she is studying it) and a faith and a hope for a better tomorrow regardless of her circumstances. She is the type of woman that you'd love to have as a friend and confidante. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words but I firmly believe that if you have a great story and a gifted writer then the words can create a thousand pictures and an entire world. Thanks to Melanie Dickerson I have found a new world that just happens to be set in a Medieval fairy tale....and I loved it.
I have read every one of Melanie Dickersons books and she is by far my favorite author. This book only makes me love her more.
I've enjoyed all the Melanie Dickerson books I've read, but I think this may have been my favorite. Of course, anything Robin Hood, and I'm there, and a female one makes it all that much better. I also love anything medieval, so I'm glad to say this story held up to my expectations. Odette lives with her wealthy merchant uncle. By day, she teaches the poor children how to read and write, and lacks for nothing. But by night, she goes out into the forest and poaches deer. She justifies this to herself because she is feeding the poor. But when the new forester arrives, and Odette starts to fall for him, she wonders if she is doing the right thing after all. I liked Odette. She may have been rich, but she came from a poor background, so she wasn't arrogant or pretentious. She only wanted to help the poor. This did at times cause her to use poor judgment, as her one-track mind could only focus on what she thought best, and not think of other options, but she genuinely did want to help the poor. Jorgen was sort of your typical fairytale hero character, but that wasn't a bad thing. He, too, only wanted to do his job well and help the poor, and he and Odette made a good match. Was this your typical romance story? Yes. Was this fairly predictable? Yes. The relationship moves pretty fast (especially that ending), and while there was a sense of mystery and intrigue surrounding the story, most of it was guessed early on. However, this story was still very well-written, and enjoyable. Although the characters are adults, this reads more like a YA story, so I think it would work well for both age groups. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a little romance and fairytales.
One of my fondest memories of childhood was my mama reading fairy tales to me. I loved reading more than anything. Still do. Now I've found an author who writes fairy tales with a Christian theme. And what a great job she does, too! I have now read all Melanie Dickerson's books and this is why grown ups should still read fairy tales! Melanie combines the stories of Robin Hood and Swan Lake in this offering, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. Odette poaches deer from the Margrave of Thornbeck's forest to feed the starving children of her village. Jorgen is the forester for Thornbeck Forest, sworn to punish every poacher he finds. However, after meeting at a dance in the village, these two begin to like each other. However, Odette knows who Jorgen is and what he does. Nothing bodes well for either of them. This is not a book for just young people. It reads well for an adult. Clean, well written with wonderfully developed characters and with a wonderful Christian message. That message, in my opinion, was this: No matter what you fear, how bad things seem to be, God can work everything out for good in the end. Then our fears seem small, compared with God's provision for His children. I don't think I'll ever be too old for fairy tales as long as Melanie Dickerson writes them! *I was provided with a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.
Odette Menkels has a soft spot for orphans. After all, she is one herself. She feels gratitude towards her Uncle Rutger who took her in after she lost her parents. She has been loyal to him since. Odette notices all the orphans and decides that it is her Christian duty to help take care of them. Since she is good with a longbow, she decides that she can help feed the children. So by day she teaches them how to read and by night, she hunts deer to feed them. In Robin Hood style, she takes from the rich to give to the poor. When she meets Jorgan Hartman and finds that he is the margraves forester, she wishes to avoid him. But he is handsome and she does enjoy his company and finds herself in his company more and more. Then he discovers that there is a poacher in Thornbeck Forest and he must find him. After all, he is stealing from the king. Odette asks questions and he tells her all. They seem to be building a relationship until the night of the margraves ball, where Odette dresses as a swam. Back and forth, Odette has to decide what is best for everyone and what she must do with her life. In true Melanie Dickerson style, the author weaves a tale that both entertains and worries the reader. Will Odette find true love or will she marry for the sake of caring for the orphans? Will Jorgan discover that she is the poacher? And if so, what will her punishment be? The story is intended to be an adult book, but my pre-teen sons enjoyed it too. We are looking forward to more from this author, and in this series.
The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest ( A Medieval Fairy Tale ) by: Melanie Dickerson Wow, What a story, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is the best book that I have read in a while . Melanie Dickerson weaves together a Medieval fairy tale based on Swan Lake and Robin Hood. I would say that this book is more for a broader audience and not just for the young. The Huntress grabbed me right at the first and did not let go till the end ,and then was sad to see it end. It seem like I could not read fast enough to see what was going to happen next. At times i felt tears rolling down my face. I loved the characters Odette and Jorgen. Odette is a beautiful young maiden who is very kind. Jorgen is a handsome Margraves Forester. They both have had a hard childhood life. I loved the spiritual parts woven throughout the story. The Huntress of Thornbeck is one book you do not want to miss out on, it is a good clean romance. Melanie Dickerson did not disappoint me and I can’t wait till the next book . I was given an ARC from the author for my honest review, which I have given.
Fall in love with another delightful tale from Melanie Dickerson... The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest A Medieval Fairy Tale By Melanie Dickerson She hunts so that the poor may eat, but poaching upon the lands of the margrave could cost her everything if she is caught. But no one would ever suspect the niece of a wealthy merchant of poaching. Jorgen Hartman has become the forester, a gamekeeper, for the margrave Lord Thornbeck. He is determined to do his duty by the margrave and to bring in the poacher of whom he has found evidence. Odette Menkels has captured the attention of Jorgen Hartman, but he is beneath her in status. There is something about her that won't let him forget her. But a forester has no hope of marrying a daughter of the merchant class, even if she seems taken with him as well. But Odette has a secret that could destroy any feelings Jorgen has for her. And Jorgen's determination to bring the poacher to justice could very well reveal her secret. But Odette has been deceived. Her efforts for the poor have been thwarted and when she discovers the truth she has a decision to make. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is another delight from Melanie Dickerson. There is a sweet charm within her books that just draws the reader into the story making it difficult to put down until the last page is turned. For readers looking for an uplifting, clean read for the tweens and teens in their life this is one you;ll want to add to your library. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher through the BookLook blogger program in exchange for my honest review.
I was looking forward to The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, Melanie Dickerson’s next installment of her medieval fairy tales, but for some reason this story did not draw me in like I expected. The writing was excellent, the plot well-thought out, and the characters genuine, but it seemed far too slow for my tastes. I finished the book, and I’m glad I did as the ending was very satisfying. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the story, I am giving it a 4 star rating because it was so well-written. ***I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I didn't know this about Melanie Dickerson when I first started reading her books, but apparently they are classified as "young adult." As a not-so-young adult, I've enjoyed every previous book of hers, and the latest is no exception. Fairy tales for adults are a THING and Dickerson is a master storyteller. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publishers through the Booklook Bloggers program.) The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest has it all--adventure, romance, intrigue--in a Medieval setting with nods to classic tales like Swan Lake and Robin Hood. The story of Odette and Jorgen is thrilling and heartbreaking, full of the typical trials of a good romantic tale. I found elements of the story a bit predictable, but that didn't detract from the story. I look forward to each of Dickerson's next releases as soon as I'm finished with the newest one. Her next effort is a Rapunzel retelling. I hope she never runs out of fairy tales to retell.
The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson is a wonderful retelling of Swan Lake set in medieval Germany with heavy influence from the story of Robin Hood. The tale is refreshing and filled with subterfuge, adventure, and romance. Although it is a retelling of a fairy tale, the protagonists of this story come from relatively average stations in life. They are not royalty or nobility, which is a unique and refreshing choice for fairy tale retelling. Odette, the heroine, is the niece of a merchant, and the hero, Jorgen is a newly-appointed forester. The two are instantly attracted to each other, but Odette's tremendous secret cannot allow them to be together, for she spends her nights as a poacher, killing the king's stags to provide food for the poor orphans of her town while Jorgen, as the town’s forester, must discover the mysterious poacher and deliver them to his boss, the margrave for punishment. Both Odette and Jorgen have endured great difficulty and loss in their pasts, and they need to overcome their feelings of inadequacy and place their trust in God rather than themselves. Jorgen wonders if he will ever move beyond his lowly position of forester and be worthy of the wealthier Odette, and Odette fears she cannot give up her poaching to be with Jorgen without abandoning the poor children she longs to save. Unfortunately for Odette, though, she is not the only person keeping secrets, and enemies and friends may both be hiding the truth. The climax brilliantly pulls from Swan Lake while still remaining true to its very realistic setting and forcing the protagonists to face their darkest moments in order to shine through in the end. I can't wait to read future books in this series, particularly if they involve the margrave, Lord Thornbeck. He stole every scene he appeared in, which was a difficult feat with such a unique, multi-faceted, and attention-grabbing cast of characters.