2017 Christy Award Winner for Young Adult Fiction
From New York Times bestselling author comes The Silent Songbird!
Evangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?
Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.
Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.
More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy.Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?
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The Silent Songbird
By Melanie Dickerson
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 Melanie Dickerson
All rights reserved.
Summer 1384. Berkhamsted Castle, Hertfordshire, England.
"Servants may marry whomever they wary but a kiny's ward has no freedom at all."
Evangeline broke off the song she was singing. A lump rose in her throat. Through her open window facing the castle bailey she watched the servants talking and laughing and milling about, finishing their morning chores.
A kitchen maid was drawing a bucket of water at the well in the center of the bailey. A young man approached her.
Alma gave him the dipper, and he lifted it to his lips.
The stranger's hair was brown and fell over his brow at an angle. He was tall, and even from Evangeline's bedchamber window on the third level of the castle, she could see he was handsome, with a strong chin and a sturdy stance.
He passed the water around to the other men who had followed him to the well. Evangeline leaned out the window to try to catch what they were saying.
"Thank you," the man said as he handed the dipper back to the servant. He wore the clothing of a peasant — a leather mantle over his long linen tunic.
"Where are you from?" Alma asked.
"Glynval, a little village north ... brought ... to sell ... and wheat flour ..." Evangeline couldn't make out all the words.
The man wasn't like most peasants. Not that she had seen very many. But this man held himself upright with an air of confidence and ease she had rarely seen before.
Evangeline leaned out a little farther, hanging on to the casement. The man was moving on as the cart started forward, Alma still staring after him. He turned to say something to the other men and suddenly looked up at Evangeline.
She jumped backward, her heart crashing against her chest.
"What are you doing, hanging out the window like a common —? Don't you know better than to behave that way?" Muriel hurried to the open window and peered out, then closed it and clamped her hands on her hips.
"Am I not allowed to look out the window? I'm no better than the prisoners in the dungeon. You know, I feel much pity for them. I daydream sometimes about releasing them and running away with them." She tipped her face to the ceiling as if turning her face to the sun and closed her eyes. "How good it would feel, walking free through the fields of wildflowers I read about in a poem once, breathing the fresh air, free to go wherever I want."
"You think your jests are amusing," Muriel said, "but when the king of England is your guardian and is planning your wedding to a wealthy nobleman, you should not expect pity. Envy is more likely."
"Wedding? What do you mean?" Evangeline's heart seemed to stop beating. "What do you know?"
"It is only gossip, but it is said that the king has promised you to one of his closest advisors."
"The Earl of Shiveley."
Evangeline reached out and placed a hand on the stone wall as the room seemed to teeter from side to side. How could the king betroth her to him? Lord Shiveley was old — almost forty — and Evangeline was barely seventeen. She had only seen Lord Shiveley a few times when he had accompanied the king to Berkhamsted Castle. He stared at her in a way that made her stomach sick, and he always managed to put a hand on her — on her shoulder or her back, and even once at her waist. She would always writhe inwardly and step away from him as quickly as she could.
Besides that, it was rumored that Lord Shiveley's first wife had died under mysterious circumstances.
"The king and Lord Shiveley will arrive tonight, and you must be ready to greet them." Muriel bustled over to the wardrobe where Evangeline's best dresses were kept. She opened it and rummaged through her clothing. "You should wash your hair. I have ordered your bath sent up, and I shall —"
"Muriel, stop!" Evangeline stared at the woman who had been her closest companion and confidant for ten years. Though Muriel was nearly old enough to be her mother, she could not be so daft.
Muriel stared back at her with a bland expression. "What is it?"
"Surely you must see that I cannot marry that man." Her voice was a breathy whisper.
"My dear," Muriel said, not unkindly, "you know, you have always known, you must marry whomever the king wishes you to."
Evangeline's throat constricted. "The king does not care a whit about my feelings."
"Careful." Muriel's gaze darted about the room. "You mustn't risk speaking against the king. You never know who might betray you."
"I shall tell the king to his face when he arrives that I shall not marry Lord Shiveley, and it is cruel to ask it of me."
"You know you shall do no such thi —"
"I shall! I shall tell him!"
"Evangeline. You are too old to get in such a passion. Sit down and calm yourself. Breathe."
Evangeline crossed her arms over her chest and ignored Muriel's order. She had to think of some way to escape. Women often married men they did not particularly want to marry, but she could not marry Lord Shiveley. She was not like other women. They might accept unfair treatment, but Evangeline would fight, argue, rebel against injustice. Other women conformed to what was expected of them. Perhaps they did not dream of freedom and a different life.
"You must listen to reason," Muriel said. "Lord Shiveley is rich and can give you your own home. You will finally have the freedom to do whatever you wish. You will have servants and your own gardens and even your own horse. Many ladies enjoy falconry and hunting. You can have as many dresses and as much jewelry, or anything else your heart desires."
Only if her husband allowed it.
Muriel knew her well enough to know what might sway her. But a husband did not give freedom. A husband made rules. He took away his wife's control and replaced it with his own. A wealthy, powerful husband could order his wife around, beat her, do whatever he wished to her, and she could do naught.
Peasants, if they were not married and were free men and women, might be poor, but was it not a hundred times better to be free than to have fancy clothes and expensive food and servants to do everything for you? Freedom and independence were worth more than all the gold a castle could hold. Freedom to choose whom to marry, freedom to walk about the countryside unhindered, to drink from a cool, clear stream and gaze up into the trees, to ride a horse and eat while standing up. To bathe in the river and laugh and sing at the top of her voice — that was freedom.
And now King Richard was about to force her to marry an old, disgusting man.
"But you said it was gossip." Evangeline began to breathe easier. "Perhaps it was only idle talk."
Or if it was true, once she was able to talk to King Richard, he would understand. They'd been friends since they were very young, being cousins and only six months apart in age. Although she had not seen much of Richard in the past few years, surely he would listen to her pleas.
Her stomach sank. She was fooling herself. Richard would not listen to her if he had made up his mind. His loyalty to his advisors came before any childhood friendship he might still feel for Evangeline.
"At least Lord Shiveley is taller than you are." Muriel arched her brows.
"Just because I am taller than half the men I've ever met doesn't mean I want to marry this man." Evangeline turned away from Muriel and sat on the bench by the window, placing her head in her hands. Perhaps if she were able to cry, it would relieve this terrible ache in her chest.
"There now." Muriel sat beside her and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Do not fret about something that may not even be true. We shall wait until the king arrives and let him tell you why he's here and if he has aught to say to you."
But the gentle warmth of Muriel's hand did not feel comforting. Muriel was fifteen years older than Evangeline, but they were both illegitimate daughters of important men — Evangeline's father was the king's uncle, while Muriel's father was an archbishop. Both of them were dependent on the kindness of King Richard.
Fortunately for Muriel, she was not valued as a pawn in the king's political maneuverings, to be married off to a man the king wanted to please or bribe. It was easy for Muriel to tell Evangeline not to fret about marrying a repulsive man.
A knock came at the door. Muriel opened it to a man wearing the livery of the king.
"A message for Evangeline, ward of the king, daughter of Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence."
Evangeline stood. Muriel brought her the missive, which had been sealed in dark-red wax with the king's signet ring. She tore it open. The words leapt off the page at her:
Evangeline, I and the Earl of Shiveley would enjoy hearing you sing for us with that famous, incomparable voice of yours. I believe you are acquainted with my advisor, which is more than most noble brides can boast of their betrothed. He became quite enamored of you the last time he heard you sing.
The note slipped from her hand and fluttered to the floor.
Muriel snatched it up while Evangeline's whole body went cold. Would her blood congeal from horror? Would she fall to the floor dead? Her throat seemed to close and she was dizzy.
She could not allow herself to be overcome like other women she read about who fainted but then went to their fates like sheep with no compunction or will of their own.
Jesus, is that what You would wish me to do? Comply and submit and allow myself to be married off to someone who makes my stomach churn and my skin crawl? Jesus submitted to a terrible fate for the good of mankind, but Evangeline could not see any good that could come from marrying Lord Shiveley. Except that it would please King Richard.
"Now, my dear." Muriel carefully laid the letter down on a shelf. "I know you think you do not wish to marry Lord Shiveley, but consider some other good things this will bring to you. You will win the king's favor. Your husband may truly love you, and you may get children from the union. Indeed, there are many benefits that will come."
"How can any of that be worth marrying someone I cannot abide? And you know what people say about his first wife." Evangeline spun away from her. Muriel would refuse to listen or understand how Evangeline felt.
"That is only idle gossip. No one pays attention to such talk. And it will be far better if you simply accept that you have no choice and try to make the best of it. What else can you do?"
"What else can I do?" Evangeline's voice rose in near-hysterical tones. "Accept that I have no choice?" Sobs choked off further speech as she kept her back to Muriel. Muriel would think she was selfish not to do as the king asked, and Muriel would stop loving her if she thought she was selfish. But it hurt so much to think of losing any chance of contentment and throwing herself away on Lord Shiveley.
"I shall leave you alone for a while." Muriel turned and her footsteps receded to the door. Then she seemed to hesitate and said, "I am truly sorry, Evangeline. But God will sustain you." The door clicked open, then shut again.
If she were like other women, she would let the king use her as a gift, a favor, a pawn. But she would do something no other noble ladies that she knew of ever did. She would refuse to marry Lord Shiveley. If necessary, she would run away, take on another identity, lose herself in the English countryside. She had imagined it many times, had thought long and hard about the different ways she might escape.
All her life Evangeline had lived in various royal residences — mostly at Berkhamsted Castle — wherever the king sent her to live. The king was so afraid she might be kidnapped and held for ransom he had ordered her to stay inside the walls, only allowed to venture out occasionally when she had guards nearby. Most people in England probably did not even know the Duke of Clarence had a second child or that her name was Evangeline.
When the king visited, he and other special guests would accompany her on a hunt in the adjacent deer park or a walk around the gardens. She obeyed, accepting that she was not the master of her own fate. Evangeline had rarely done anything courageous or unexpected.
Tonight was a good time for a change, to see if she was brave enough to carry out her fantasy of running away.
* * *
Westley le Wyse thanked the servant girl for the water.
Above him in the castle window, a young red-haired woman was staring down at him. Was she the one who had been singing just moments before? He had been listening, rapt and still, to that voice, the one singing a rustic ballad with such refinement and grace, until it suddenly went silent. As soon as their eyes met, she disappeared from the window, almost as if someone had snatched her back.
He only glimpsed her, but he got the impression she was not a servant by her clothing and hair, and that she was quite lovely. The rumor was that the king had a ward living at Berkhamsted Castle, a young woman with an ethereally beautiful voice. Some said she was the illegitimate daughter of the king's dead uncle, Lionel of Antwerp, which meant she was the granddaughter of King Edward. But she might be only a myth. Legends often were created from some tidbit of gossip.
"Did you hear the news?"
He shifted around to face the servant girl who lingered in the bailey with her bucket of water.
"King Richard is coming to Berkhamsted Castle tonight."
That would be a sight. Even Westley's father had never seen the king.
"We are all busy with preparations for the king and his retinue. What provisions did you and your men bring for us?" The girl was standing on tiptoe, trying to see over his shoulder.
"Wheat flour, oats, malt, and some large cheeses."
It had been a good year for several crops in Glynval and the surrounding land. Westley had come to Berkhamsted Castle with his father's servants to sell their excess.
"This is my little sister." The servant girl indicated the golden-haired child playing behind her. "I have to watch her today since my mother is sick."
The little girl looked to be about six years old. She was squealing and grunting as she leapt and spun about, trying to catch a bright-yellow butterfly that fluttered just out of her reach.
A horse's angry neigh drew Westley's attention to the other end of the bailey.
"Steady," said a man holding the horse's bridle. Its neigh grew into a high-pitched screech. The horse leapt straight up, snatching the bridle out of the man's hands. The horse's hooves touched the ground and the animal bolted forward. The cart knocked the man to the ground as it jolted past him.
The horse galloped across the bailey-heading straight for the little girl.
"Get out of the way!" Westley pushed the servant aside as he raced toward the little girl, willing her to move out of the path of the horse.
The girl suddenly seemed to hear the noise of the horse's hooves and the clattering cart barreling toward her. She froze and stared, her mouth open.
Westley ran and grabbed her around her middle with one arm, then dove to the side. He held her above him as his shoulder and back collided with the ground.CHAPTER 2
When Muriel left her room/, Evangeline wandered hack to the window that faced the bailey.
While she watched Alma talk with the handsome young man, a horse broke away from its handler and careened toward Alma's little sister.
The child saw the horse coming. Why didn't she run? She seemed frozen.
Evangeline screamed, "Run!"
The young man leapt toward the girl, grabbed her, and pulled her out of the way just in time.
The horse galloped on and crashed the cart into the stone wall around the well. The cart now in pieces, the horse kept going and finally stopped at the opposite wall of the bailey.
Evangeline clutched her chest as air seeped back into her lungs.
The little girl was crying. The young man set her on her feet, and Alma ran to her and hugged her. Was the stranger hurt? He took quite a hard fall as he protected the child in his arms.
He got to his feet as the other men with him rushed to his side. He must have spoken to Alma and the little girl because they turned toward him. How Evangeline wished she could hear what they were saying! She leaned out of the window but couldn't catch their words. She imagined he asked the kitchen maid if the child was uninjured and imagined her replying, "Yes, only frightened," as the child's crying lessened.
Excerpted from The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson. Copyright © 2016 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
I will admit I preordered this book and have her next book preordered as well. With that disclaimer out of the way let me say I loved the book and have read it twice already. The first time on the day it came out and once again about a week later to catch more of the details. An excellent clean book with a well developed plot and characters. Some of which are new and some from her other books, but don't worry this book stands alone if you haven't read any of the others. Again I loved it and hope you will too.
Review from inkwellreviews.com Ah yes, another heart-warming fairy tale from Melanie Dickerson. I was so excited when I found out that her next book was going to be loosely based on The Little Mermaid. I love that story and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I do wish that she had kept more of the original story in it but that’s just my personal opinion. Now, if you’ve ever read Melanie Dickerson then you know what her writing style is. This book is no different. It is still a good book, but I knew what was going to happen before it did. I think Melanie Dickerson is a skilled writer, but I think she needs to change her stories up a bit. I must say, Evangeline, the main character, got on my nerves sometimes. Although she is very sweet and kind, she is also head strong and ignorant. Like I said before, this is all my personal opinion, as far as the quality of writing goes, it was good. This book was not confusing in any way and kept my attention throughout it. If you are familiar with Melanie Dickerson and her earlier books, The Merchants Daughter, then you will find this book endearing as Westley le Wyse’s (the main male character) parents were the main characters in that book. I would say that this book is geared towards teenage girls, but I would still tell you that anyone can read it. If you are wanting a different, feel-good book then this one is for you. The Silent Songbird wasn’t my favorite of Melanie Dickerson’s, but it did meet all my expectations and I am glad I read it.
It is a clean romsntic story perfect for ages 11 to 15 the mealine dicketson books do call for machure readers it is a christin book with achristin auther if you are uncertain about your child read the book read it first. I ashure you that you will be pleasd with the serries!!!
I really enjoyed this book. This book has wonderful characters and a wonderful plot. I had a hard time putting this wonderful book down.
What's this? A 14th century re-imagining of The Little Mermaid tale? Well, yes... a loose one anyway! Honestly, I was curious but maybe a tad trepidatious going into this one. That's likely my fault, I got too stuck on that Little Mermaid re-telling idea going in, so in the early chapters I was skeptical as to how one could successfully pull off writing a land-based mermaid. My mind moved into further skepticism as I worked through the early chapters and felt more of a Rapunzel vibe with the whole "ward of a king who lived alone in a tower, kept virtual prisoner" who had "read about wildflowers in a poem once" but unfamiliar with them in nature. To future readers, I recommend you don't follow my lead on that. Let go of the re-imagining focus because truthfully The Silent Songbird is only lightly inspired by the classic tale. Unique in execution, this novel is highly entertaining in its own right, endearing characters throughout. Westley's mother has a lovely combination of give-it-to-you-straight tough love combined with sometimes concealed tenderness. The friendship turned innocent romance between Westley and Eva is adorable and one to root for, in addition to Eva's friendships not only with Mildred but Nicola, another servant on the estate. Lastly, there's Eva's brave spirit -- not afraid to go after the life she truly wants... well, maybe more accurately, in the words of John Wayne, "afraid but saddling up anyway". A heartwarming tale in the old style where readers are left feeling cozy and reassured that truth and goodness prevail. FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.
*This book was received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* This was a really interesting read with intriguing characters and an enjoyable plot. I really enjoyed the pace of the book as well as the main character Evangeline; I especially liked reading the story from her point of view. Although I liked most of the characters, I didn't warm up to Westley; he seemed too perfect but also very gullible and because of this unrealistic. The world building was good however the ending felt quite rushed and too neat. Overall, this was an interesting read with some flaws.
The Silent Songbird (#7 Hagenheim) by Melanie Dickerson In this delightful medieval “fairy tale” we travel back-in-time to the Berkhamsted Castle of 1384 Hertfordshire, England and then on to the quaint village of Glynval. Young, beautiful Evangeline, cousin and ward to King Richard II has just learned that she will be betrothed to his closest advisor, Lord Shiveley, a man twice her age. However, she longs to marry for love, so she does what any desperate ward of the king would do...runs away, of course. But she must keep her true identity a secret so as not to be found out. What better disguise than that of a servant...a mute servant? She joins a small band of servants on their way back to their home village of Glynval, lead by the handsome young Wesley le Wyse. Evangeline soon discovers that life outside the castle walls is far beyond anything she could have imagined, especially traveling as a servant. What a journey and challenges Evangeline...and Wesley for that matter...finds herself on in this charming medieval “fairy tale”. Evangeline turns out to be a feisty heroine and Wesley is a charming hero. The plot is intriguing and the descriptions are amazing giving the reader images that are so real I felt I was walking among the characters. There are humorous scenes that had me chuckling, tender moments that had me sighing, danger, intrigue and suspense had me turning the pages to see what was coming next, evil plots, deception—which made me think of the saying...”Oh! What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”...and consequences of those actions, forgiveness, love and faith—I enjoyed the spiritual elements woven within the story-line. A delightful story. ~I received a copy of this book from the author via the Fiction Guild (no monetary gain were exchanged), this is my honest review~
The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson was a very interesting take on the classic tale of The Little Mermaid. I was quite curious to see where author Dickerson would take the tale without using magic, or without Evangeline being a mermaid. She did a very good job with the premise and I could see many Little Mermaid elements woven in, but by the time I got halfway through the story it took a life of its own and didn’t seem so much like a retelling anymore. The medieval setting was fascinating, and I could tell that the author had put a lot of research into what it was like back then. The characters were interesting in their own rights. Evangeline was a sweet, kind heroine, if a little naïve; and I believe the same could be said for Westley. They were perfect for each other, really. The other characters were nice, and I thought it was interesting to see how Dickerson wove her characters from The Merchant’s Daughter into this story. I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Fiction Guild. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.
After the death of her parents, Evangeline is left in the care of her cousin, King Richard II. When she learns that the king has promised her as a wife to his advisor, Lord Shiveley, Evangeline runs away. Knowing that they will come after her, and that she is known for her beautiful singing voice, she pretends to be mute and joins a group of servants who are journeying back to their village. Westley is leading the servants, and he takes the mute young maiden under his protection. They grow closer, finding ways to communicate other than speaking, but when the truth comes out it could tear them apart. As events unfold, Evangeline’s future, Westley’s life, and the fate of England hang in the balance. This novel is part of Melanie Dickerson’s Fairy Tale Romance series. It’s a retelling of The Little Mermaid, minus the mermaids and magic. It’s a light read that will keep the pages turning with action and romance. My only negative with this one was that the characters’ thoughts often summarized events that just occurred within the last few pages. It wasn’t necessary, as the action played out well, and this retelling took away from it. Other than that, it’s a good read for those who love a clean, action-filled romance. I received a copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for an honest review.
Evangeline has been gifted with a beautiful voice. But now she is on the run, determined to not be forced to marry Lord Shiveley- a man twice her age and harboring sinister motives. She remains silent, afraid if anyone hears her they will recognize her and send her back. Can she trust the man who has offered to help her with her life? Perhaps even with her heart? This story had a way of easily taking me back to my teenage years, when I was about 14 or 15. The subtle fairy tale setting, the costumes, the characters…. in a way it was a breath of fresh air getting to experience that again for a little while. The cover image is captivating (although, I do need to point out that the model’s eye color is wrong. It does not match Evangeline’s eye color.) All in all this was a light, entertaining read. I already have a friend who wants to read it. *I received this book free from Thomas Nelson and Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review. What I have expressed are entirely my own thoughts.*
Fairy tale retellings are popular right now. I love these retellings, especially those written by Melanie Dickerson. Most of us know the tale of The Little Mermaid, but you’ve never heard it told this way before. Oh and not to mention that this is a world that is all human and magic doesn’t exist set in Medieval Times. While this is the seventh book in the Hagenheim series, you don’t have to read them in order. I’ve only read The Golden Braid and this one so far. Each book is about a different character from a different fairy tale, but they all tie in so it’s probably more fun to read them in the order. In fact, I heard that the le Wyse family appear in another book, The Merchant’s Daughter. I’m definitely going to have to find that one because I loved that family so much! This time we find the setting to be partly in Berkhamsted Castle and Glynva in England. Not only is the cover gorgeous, Dickerson immediately drew me in the story from the very beginning. The pages just kept on flying until I found myself at the very end. Evangeline has her mind set not to marry the old disgusting King Shiveley so she runs away. She is bold, fierce, and brave. She believes that she needs a man or a friend to protect her but then realizes that she needs God to fill that role. She stands out from most a lot of female characters in young adult fiction because she is independent. She doesn’t need a man to protect her. In fact, she ends up saving a handsome young man’s life twice! She will do anything to protect those she cares about and perseveres through her tasks even when she finds that she is terrible at them. She is far from perfect, but that’s what I loved about this redhead. I loved seeing how real, vulnerable, and honest she was in her faith journey. Her role was refreshing. Then there’s Westley. Sigh. I’ve got a crush on him. He’s not a peasant, but he has no title. His father is the Lord of Glynval. He is kind to his servants, making sure they have fair wages and everything they need. He goes above and beyond. He’s the kind of guy that would literally give the shirt off his back if someone needed it. He will do anything to make sure those he loves are safe. He’s a wonderful and Godly man. The writing was wonderfully done. Dickerson draws you into her world where the characters become friends. It’s like you’re actually there. You can feel everything they’re feeling. You’ll laugh, cry, cheer, get angry, and all of the feels! It’s cheesy and some spots are quite predictable, but I really enjoyed this one. It’s a clean wholesome read where there’s romance and sword fighting. While the story is completely different, there are some nods to the original fairy tale. Dickerson also does not fail to point her characters and readers towards God in a non-preachy way. Highly recommended foranyone and everyone who enjoys a fun fairy tale retelling. Perfect for those seeking a fun and light read. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
This was a delightful book. The reader gets a glimpse of life in England during the 1300's. It was well written and kept my interested. I am ready to read more by the author. I received a free copy of this book.
Count me in as another older reader enjoying teen fiction! In the 7th installment of the Fairy Tale Romance/Hagenheim series, the scene shifts to England during the reign of a young Richard II. Evangeline, a royal ward, escapes with her maid rather than marry Lord Shiveley, an advisor to the king. She pretends to be mute as part of her disguise. Arriving in the village of Glynval, Evangeline works as a maid and meets the son of the local lord, Westley le Wyse. Unfortunately Lord Shiveley is on Evangeline's trail, and it leads to a confrontation with the King. If you're familiar with British history, there are mentions of the Peasant's Revolt, which occurred 3 years prior to the story. I enjoyed reading the novel. It combines romance, faith, and political intrigue for an interesting story. If you've read "The Merchant's Daughter," Annabel and Ranulf have an appearance in the story.
I received this book for a honest review from The Fiction Guild. This is another wonderful retelling of a fairy tale with a bit of twist in it. I loved how a young woman born of royalty wanted what every other person in the world wanted. Love. She was kept at one of the kings castles because she was the daughter of the Kings uncle. He came to tell her to she was to marry a man who didn't want to and knew it would not be good. She had a beautiful singing voice and the only reason the Lord wanted to marry her because of her royal bloodline. She ran away to a different community and her lady's maid went with her and she acted like she couldn't talk and they acted as domestic help as a cover. But the Lord would not give up. She found shelter and a possibility of love and family. With Wesley help and his father and village they were able to save her friend and stop the king from harm.
Growing up locked in a country palace would certainly make a girl long for freedom. So when Evangeline’s guardian arranges for her to marry a creepy older man, she takes the excuse and runs away with her closest servant-friend. Her disguise? Wearing peasant’s clothes and pretending to be mute, since one of her most recognizable features is her beautiful voice. Evangeline and her friend soon working at a noble’s manor, and she and the noble’s son Wesley feel the beginnings of attraction. But deception is never a good basis for a romance, and trouble seems to follow both of them. I didn’t catch it at the beginning, but The Silent Songbird is definitely a Little Mermaid retelling . . . minus the mermaid. It was a really sweet story, complete with the prince, mute princess, and deceptive witch. Relatively speaking, anyway. I loved the romance, though it was a little frustrating to watch them suffer because of the deception. Why can’t people tell the truth? Because they don’t know whether they can trust the other. But by the time they know they can trust the others enough to tell them, the others’ trust in the first is broken. Isn’t it the way it always goes in stories like these? In any case, I enjoyed this particular rendition of the tale. It followed the fairy tale pretty well, considering there is no magic, and added some great complications and twists. The historical background was fantastic, as always, and the characters were developed well. I enjoyed The Silent Songbird and look forward to the next novel by one of my favorite authors. I recommend it to fans of clean historical romance and fairy tale retellings. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Meet Evangeline. She has the most beautiful singing voice and is privileged to be a ward and cousin of the great King Richard II, so she gets to live at Berkhamsted Castle. She would completely be satisfied with her comfortable life, right? Unfortunately, due to her royal blood (even if she was illegitimate) she has never been free to go and do whatever she wanted. The walls of Berkhamsted always seem to be her own personal dungeon and nothing changes when she hears that King Richard II has agreed to Lord Shiveley’s marriage proposal for her. Lord Shiveley is rich, twice her age and one of the king’s trusted advisors, but Evangeline longs to fall in love just like in the poems and songs she sings. With her impending wedding, Evangeline makes an impulsive decision to leave everything she knows and rely on the kindness of a stranger, Westley le Wyse. Though she has never lived as a peasant, she is determined that she would have more freedom to live and marry if she became a peasant. In order to disguise her identity, she tells her companion, Muriel, to say that she is mute. Her brilliant red hair and striking green eyes along with her substantial height already attract enough attention. When the travelers reach Glynval, Evangeline learns that Westley is actually the eldest son of Lord le Wyse and not just a peasant. She is disappointed but she tries her best to fit in as a servant. Obviously, antics ensue since she’s never worked a day in her life, but Westley’s kindness to her even in the face of her inadequacies stirs her heart toward him. How can she ever tell Westley the truth about who she is without completely having him hate her? Westley feels pity and compassion toward her because he thinks she lost her voice from being abused by her master. Will Evangeline ever be able to tell Westley the truth? Could they possibly find a way to be together despite Lord Shiveley’s frantic search for her? Is there more to what Lord Shiveley desires and can Evangeline discover this before it’s too late? Yay! The newest installment in the Hagenheim series! I am a HUGE fan of Melanie Dickerson. What women doesn’t love a good fairytale? I didn’t even realize it was a reimagining of The Little Mermaid until the very end. This book can stand alone but Westley’s parents are from The Merchant’s Daughter so it was nice to see them again. I really liked how Evangeline grows as a character. Every girl needs to know how to defend herself and believe that she is loved for who she is. As much as I enjoyed Westley’s character, he almost seemed too good to be true – he could have had more flaws to make him more real in my opinion. This historical romance is full of romance and vivid scenery that transports the reader into medieval times. I highly recommend this series and I can’t wait to read what’s next.
I didn't see what this book had to do with The Little Mermaid other than Evangeline losing her voice, but I certainly still enjoyed it. Westley le Wyse is the son of Lord and Lady le Wyse, who of course were characters in an earlier book in this series of fairy tales and was one of my very favourites so it was nice to have them back in the story. This time our heroine is living in a castle, but not just any castle - she is the ward of the king of England. She's been treated very well living there, but now he wants to marry her off as a favour to one of his most trusted advisors. Lord Shiveley is twice her age and definitely not the man the king sees him to be. Taking a big risk, she and her maid run off with a band of peasants travelling back to their home town. As long as you don't read this as a definitive historical novel accurately detailing the times, it's pretty entertaining glimpse into the time period. Lords and ladies, servants and knights, oh my. It's a light read, it's clean and worth picking up. I received this book from the publisher. My opinions are entirely my own. Thank you Thomas Nelson.
The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson is a truly lovely romance written for young adults. The story is clean in writing, no profanity at all, and the sweet romance is just right for readers of any age. I truly liked how the author managed to keep the story interesting and how she created enough tension that I wanted to keep turning the page. Recommend. Review written after downloading a galley from NetGalley.
The Silent Songbird is book seven from the Hagenheim series. This retelling of The Mermaid is so far my favorite by Melanie Dickerson. I just love Evangeline and Wesley. Highly recommended 5+ stars
** “I need an all-powerful God who cares for me. I need you. … You’ll never leave me or forsake me, and I’ll always trust You. I know I’ll be safe with You in my heart. I’ll not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.” ** Melanie Dickerson continues her medieval fairytales with a retelling of The Little Mermaid in “The Silent Songbird.” Set in 1384 England, Evangeline, who has the voice of an angel, is a ward of King Richard — she is his illegitimate cousin, the daughter of his uncle. And being his ward, Richard can control her fate, and insists Evangeline marry his closest advisor, the much-older Earl of Shiveley, a truly evil man with devious plans. Unfortunately the king is blind to the earl’s true intentions. Feeling trapped and literally fearing for her life, Evangeline runs away with her closest companion, Muriel, pretending to be mute and changing her name to Eva to hide her true identity. When Eva meets the kind, compassionate and handsome Westley le Wyse of Glynval, she begins to realize that she is indeed worthy of love, and choosing her own love. She also learns to protect herself, as well as seek protection — whether from man or God. (“She imagined God as the father she had never known, a perfect Father.”) Containing many references to The Little Mermaid, “The Silent Songbird” is a delightful little tale filled with romance, intrigue, danger, secrets and sacrifice. It tackles themes like freedom and independence, a feeling of not being one’s master of their own fate, bravery, feeling unworthy and like a pawn, kindness, mercy, compassion and God’s lovingkindness. Fun little fact: I don’t know if the author intended this or not, but toward the end of the book there’s even a brief little reference to “The Princess Bride” — “As you wish.” Dickerson does a great job, yet again, bringing commonly known fairytales to life in the medieval era. Five stars out of five. Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
The Silent Songbird is everything I've come to expect from Dickerson's fairy tale romance series. My little inner girly girl squeals with delight at the prospect of a new spin on an old favorite and Songbird delivers! Evangeline and Westley's story is full of danger, secrets, and youthful attraction. This is a no-brainer for the teens and young adults in your life and I fully approve this book for the young at heart as well! I requested the opportunity to read and review this title through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.
While you’re reading The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson, you may find yourself humming the song “Part of Your World” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid movie. And a time or two, you may break into a reggae beat, imploring Westley to “Kiss the Girl” (woo woo). If a lobster/crab/whateverSebastianwas shows up to sing along, you might want to become concerned. Otherwise just embrace it. Because Melanie does a fabulous job of retelling The Little Mermaid (the Andersen version) and reshaping it to become Evangeline’s story. With her hilariously disastrous attempts to fit in as a servant, Evangeline truly was a “mermaid out of water”. (You may also find yourself wanting to call out “Have fun storming the castle!” because while The Little Mermaid is clearly the dominant fairy tale here, there are shades of The Princess Bride as well if you look closely enough.) Enter Westley. But before I talk about Westley, I need to gush about Westley’s father first. Lord le Wyse. Or as I like to call him, “yummy Lord Ranulf”. When I heard that The Silent Songbird would take us back to England, back to the universe of The Merchant’s Daughter (still my very favorite Dickerson book), I may have fangirl squealed in giddy excitement. (Ok… totally did.) And i must confess that my book-boyfriend-collecting heart did go pitterpatter when Ranulf first showed up in Songbird. Oh yeah, and it was nice to see Annabel too. lol. Ahem. Anyway… back to Evangeline and Westley. The Silent Songbird is a sweet story of falling in love (lots of tender and swoony moments!, finding your footing in your faith and finding your place in the world. (And now I’m singing Michael W. Smith’s song… clearly I need professional help.) Along the way, mixed throughout the tender and the swoony and the profound, are moments which will pull a giggle out of the grumpiest Grinch. Perhaps more than any of Melanie Dickerson’s other books, The Silent Songbird shows her great sense of humor. With lines like, “At least if she worked inside, she couldn’t nearly decapitate someone” and “Are you kissing in the Lord God’s chapel? There is no kissing in the chapel!” you are sure to smile nearly as often as you sigh blissfully. And sigh blissfully, you shall. Bottom Line: The Silent Songbird is warm and funny and sweet, with a dash of suspense and a cartload of adventure. Melanie Dickerson is in top form with this return to Glynval, but even if you’ve never read The Merchant’s Daughter you will feel right at home. Expertly taking a couple of the world’s most familiar and beloved tales and weaving them into a story of even truer love and gentle faith, Melanie Dickerson proves once again why she’s the queen of fairy tale retellings! (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.)