Melanie Dickerson is quickly becoming a well-known name among lovers of Historical Fiction published by Christian publishers like Thomas Nelson. Having read three of her books prior to reading – The Captive Maiden, The Fairest Beauty, and The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest – I anticipated that The Silent Songbird would not disappoint. Was it everything a reader could hope for? Let’s take a look.
Since I definitely knew and respected Melanie Dickerson as an author in the Historical Fiction community of writers, I was eager to give The Silent Songbird a try. Having been captivated by her tale of Cinderella, Snow White, and a gender-bent Robin Hood, finding my copy of The Silent Songbird in hardback was icing on the cake. Historically, the covers of Dickerson’s books are exquisite and this book is no exception. Dickerson is also very well connected with her fans on social media.
Plot (Spoilers! Saddle Up Your Horses and Grab Your Longbow!)
One thing I’ve learned as an author is that in order to write a good story – a fresh story – a story that your reader has no idea is coming, is to create believable, lovable characters, give them a seemingly unattainable goal, dangle the pieces of that goal before the characters, set them up for success, then tear it all apart leaving very little hope only to show your reader a miracle.
That’s exactly what Dickerson did.
As an author, I want give her a high five.
As a reader, I wanted to throw my empty tissue box at her.
Throughout the book, we read about Evangeline, a ward of the King, who narrowly escaped a marriage to an abusive man who only wants her because of her Royal connection. The settings are fresh, real, and lively – even though the book takes place in England.
Was there romance?
Was there romance?
More skillfully than I have ever seen, Dickerson manages to build up a budding romance between Eva and Wesley, (hmm a nod to The Princess Bride? As you wish), the son of a wealthy landowner who takes Eva and her maid on as servants as they go into hiding. She does it in little ways – rubbing salve into blistered hands and bandaging them, reading the Bible together, and of course Wesley falls in love with Eva’s singing voice.
Did I mention she’s a mute for a good portion of the book?
That won’t complicate things, will it?
As a writer, when you create a character and place her in a world where she is depraved of love, you really have to think about how to make her authentic. Eva is the King’s ward and cousin as brother of her parents are gone and were not married at the time of her birth. To watch her struggle with the question of how to make people love her, and to see her so afraid to hope that anyone will love her grabs your heart and won’t let go.
Eva could easily have been the girl who cried in the corner – because how many times have we seen the girl who is desperate for love and will do anything to get it? Eva is the opposite. She dreams of love. She prays for love. She loves other people and still fears that she is coming across as a selfish, pampered palace girl. It is her kindness and courage that ultimately wins over Wesley, and secures her place in his heart.
Staying Power – Dickerson as a Serial Author?
Serial author or one hit wonder?
Until now, while I would recommend all of her books, my favorite of Dickerson’s novels was The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest; however, I am happy to say that The Silent Songbird has overwhelmingly taken its place. I cannot wait to read the next of the Dickerson novels.
The Bottom Line
My last words to you on The Silent Songbird are these: if you like waiting for a nod to The Princess Bride – read this book.
If you’re looking for a fresh action/romance/historical fiction book – read this book.
If you’re looking for a girl-power story where the girl is level-headed and modest – read this book.
If you’re looking for a redemption story – read this book.
However, if you’re out of tissues – don’t read this book.
Then, read this book.
As an author and a reader, I take my hat off to you, Melanie Dickerson, for another job well done.
To purchase the book, click here.