Thursday, December 8, 2022

Happy Book Birthday, Fortress of Snow by Melanie Dickerson!

I should be singing ''Happy Birthday", but I'm sliding into the "Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow!" I know very well that it'd take a minor miracle to have white here on Christmas Day, but one should never give up hope. To keep my mind in the chilly mood (and not rainy like it is this week), I'm diving into a historical, Christian romance for young adults. This is the 4th book in a series, and I haven't read any of the first books, yet, but when has that stopped me from heading right in? 

The Dericott Tales, Book 4
by Melanie Dickerson
Thomas Nelson
Young Adult Historical, Christian Fiction
352 pages

When her father dies and her brother, Warin, abandons her, Mazy is forced to seek help from her beloved older brother Sir John, who is training knights at the great estate of Strachleigh. While there, she becomes friends with the kind and loyal Sir Berenger. Circumstances then force them apart: Berenger goes to Prague, while Mazy and her brother move to London. There, Mazy puts her knife-throwing skills to excellent use as she defends herself, and she learns to make breads to sell in the market to earn money. Her business is expanding when Berenger returns to London and they are reunited.

Romance is just beginning to bloom when the king offers Berenger a new mission that also serves as a chance for a title: Berenger is to marry the recently widowed Lady Bristow and take over her estate. To Mazy’s dismay, Berenger agrees to go to Bristow Castle to visit her and make his decision.

But Bristow Castle is hiding secrets, and the only person who might be able to save the knight in distress is the damsel Mazy herself.



The historical world of knights and kings comes to life in a book, which concentrates on the life of a pretty normal girl and her journey of finding a family to call her own.

Mazy had a wonderful life as the daughter of a Baron, but when her father passes away, and the title and estate is completely passed on to her cold, oldest brother, her world collapses. In an attempt to escape a horrible, arranged marriage, she seeks the help of her other brother, who has become a  knight, but he isn't anything like she remembered him to be. While he doesn't completely disown her as her oldest brother does, she ends up fending for herself in a huge town of London. While she does meet kind souls and gains a special interest in particular knight, even the dreams of finally finding someone to depend on a little disappear as the king requests him to marry another. But heart-break is the least of the problems with the arrangement.

I did not read the first three books of this series, but that didn't cause any problems when diving into this one, since it seems that each book carries its own twists and plots. 

The world building is very well done. Historical England not only comes to life, but it does so in a natural way, which makes the world and characters familiar enough to easily identify with. Mazy starts as a naive girl, who has enough with and independence with her to known when it's better to head out and not fall victim to circumstances. She carries strength, and while displaying a few more physical talents (knives, etc), she never allows these to be more than a side aspect and still stays pretty close to the female role at that time. 

The story is grabbing, and Mazy has more than a few situations to conquer...many of which have nothing to do with the romance. This tale centers more on her struggles with life and learning to deal with things as possible. The Christian aspect glides in smoothly and as natural as a prayer, and never becomes preachy or takes over any levels of plot lines. There are a few action scenes, and these also were exciting while staying mostly realistic. The rest is really accompanying Mazy on her journey. I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style (a little more telling than I prefer), but I still had to read this one until the end just to find out how everything turns out for Mazy. 

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