The Merchant’s Daughter

Friday, March 23, 2012
Intelligence sparked in her expression, and she was too well spoken to have been born to servanthood. Rather, she’d been born a freeman’s daughter and probably had been trained to marry a free burgher or even a landed knight. Her mother was the daughter of a knight, and her father was a wealthy merchant, until fate had turned against him.
How well Ranulf knew about heartless twists of fate.

Book: The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson, Zondervan Publishers, 2011
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale
Target Audience: Girls 13-18
Subjects: Outward appearance, Judging, Forgiveness, Love
Summary: Fate. It has turned against them both and will surely be what keeps them apart. She, born to relative wealth and privilege but now an indentured servant due to her mother and brothers’ selfish choices. He, once happily in love and married, scorned because of a scar that came from saving a life. Both are sure that dreams are dead and their chance for happiness is gone forever. Then they are thrown together when she moves into the castle to work for him. When she begins reading for him and he discovers her hunger for the Word of God, an attraction begins to build. But trouble is brewing and Lord Ranulf has to decide what loving the beautiful Annabel means for him.
Notes: This is a Beauty and the Beast story. A beautiful girl works off her father’s debt in the castle of the ugly beast and falls in love with him. The locals, led by a rejected lover of the girl lead a riot on the castle with the hopes of killing the beast, who is quite willing to lay down his life, as long as the one he loves can escape safely. There are quite a few spiritual elements in this story. The main one being Annabel’s passion for the Scripture. Her dream is to be able to get a copy of it and read and study it herself. The local preacher denies her this privilege claiming she is sinning to even desire this and needs to rely on the priest to tell her what she needs to know. But when she is asked to read for Lord Ranulf, it turns out that what he wants read is the Bible. The Scripture is discussed, quoted, meditated on, etc. Annabel and Ranulf both take their concerns to God in prayer throughout the book as well.
Recommendation Scale: 4.5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Peter 3:3-4 – Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

The Unraveling Of Wentwater

“This child will be the undoing of Wentwater. Before she turns eighteen, the village will unravel and all will be lost.”

Book: The Unraveling Of Wentwater by C.S. Lakin, Living Ink Books, 2012

Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 13+
Subjects: Love, Jealousy, Sacrifice, Power of words
Summary: At her birth it was prophesied she would be the unraveling of Wentwater and all knew the witch hoped it would be true. But when she was banished from the village they hoped they had prevented it somehow. After all it had been over seventeen years since that horrid morning and most thought she’d died in the fire. But when beautiful, full of life, Teralyn comes to the village to hear the music of the festival things start happening. Justyn, fed up with the superstitions of the villagers has been in the Heights to study and learn and rise above his beginnings. He is asked to escort Teralyn to the festival and finds himself attracted to her, but rather than be attracted to his puffed up knowledge, she falls in love with his musical brother who knows what Justyn does not: how to love – fully and richly. In his anger and jealousy Justyn seeks out the feared witch who has him stitch his brother’s name and give her a word in exchange for her help, a word which is now gone from the village. And thus begins the unraveling. Somehow Teralyn has to stitch them back together – one word at a time.
Notes: This, the 4th in Lakin’s Gates of Heaven series is loosely based off the story of Sleeping Beauty with the idea that an uninvited powerful evil person shows up for a baby naming and makes a prophecy about a young girl and a spinning wheel. But it takes off as an original, unique, story from there. The theme of the story is the power of words. Only the witch seems to understand how much power words hold. Both the villagers and the Heights toss them about carelessly, but the witch gathers up words and stores them in jars. When Justyn trades a word for power over his brother, a word the story never gives, but implies is the essence of love, it keeps the village from being complete. The witch marvels at the essence of names, taking them apart, looking at the different words in them, the different meanings. For example, “She rolled the name Teralyn in her mouth. Yearn… learn… year… tear… The lass had no idea what her name portended…”.
As for spiritual elements, it is allegorical, not focused a lot on an ultimate being, more just on a concept – the power our words hold over others. Here’s an example “Words. How well she knew that truth! For nature and magic to exist, they relied on words. Everything came into existence through words. First the word in the mind of God, then the spoken word. The tree most potent words in the universe were ‘Let there be…’” There are other references to a powerful being, called “The Keeper” but not one of ultimate power or authority. And there isn’t a book or written source of ultimate authority. It’s all focused on the concept of words holding great power and how important it is to be careful and loving with them. The other interesting element of this book is the comparison between the two different people groups: the villagers – rooted in superstition and ignorance and the scholars in the Heights who have scorned everything that can’t be explained. Both groups are portrayed as lacking something: faith.
Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

James 3:7-9 – All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.

 This book releases in May 2012
Thank you to Living Ink Books for sending me a free copy to review!

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