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[Reading] ➮ The Orphans Wish (Hagenheim, #8) ➶ Melanie Dickerson – Betadvice.es

4.5 stars I didn t plan on reading this whole book in one day but I just couldn t put it down Oh my goodness, I loved it so much I ve had it on my shelf for months and was a little nervous to read it because of the mixed reviews I ve seen, but I don t know why I doubted it Melanie Dickerson is one of my favorite authors and her writing style is just beautiful Aladdin is such a fun Disney movie and I m so glad that she wrote a retelling of it. Storyline This book has a good plot Guessable at times, but still good It felt like a different storyline than Aladdin but there were some similar parts Aladdin s name, wealth and trickery like the original story, etc I didn t connect with the characters, but I still enjoyed them Romance There was a few kissing scenes that I didn t enjoy, but everything was clean I just don t enjoy a lot of romance Violence Murders, kidnapping, bad wounds, etc Not graphic I enjoyed the action parts Overall this was a good book Go give it a try Good job, Mrs Dickerson I love your writing Orphaned And Alone, Aladdin Travels From The Streets Of His Arab Homeland To A Strange, Faraway Place Growing Up In An Orphanage, He Meets Young Lady Kirstyn, Whose Father Who Is The Powerful Duke Of Hagenheim Despite The Difference In Their Stations, Aladdin Quickly Becomes Kirstyn S Favorite Companion, And Their Childhood Friendship Grows Into A Bond That Time And Opposition Cannot BreakEven As A Child, Aladdin Works Hard, Learning All He Can From His Teachers Through His Integrity, Intelligence, And Sheer Tenacity, He Earns A Position Serving As The Duke S Steward But That Isn T Enough To Erase The Shame Of Being Forced To Steal As A Small Child Or The Fact That He S An Orphan With No Status If He Ever Wants To Feel Equal To His Beautiful And Generous Friend Kirstyn, He Must Leave Hagenheim And Seek His FortuneYet Once Aladdin Departs, Lady Kirstyn Becomes A Pawn In A Terrible Plot Now, Aladdin And Kirstyn Must Rely On Their Bond To Save Her From Unexpected Danger But Will Saving Kirstyn Cost Aladdin His Newfound Status And Everything He S Worked So Hard To Obtain An Enchanting New Version Of The Well Known Tale, The Orphan S Wish Tells A Story Of Courage And Loyalty, Friendship And Love, And Reminds Us What Family Really Means Book title The Orphans Wish.Author Melanie Dickerson.Series Hagenheim book 8.Genre Fairy Tale retelling without magic, Medieval.Received book from NetGallery.Form of Book Ebook.Reviewer Victoria Goodbrand.Date started March 15, 2018 at precisely 2 o clock Date finished MY REVIEW Y all I m so excited to share this review I m going to be doing this revie was I read this beauty of a book Super special thanks to Net Gallery for gifting me with the opportunity to read an advanced readers copy I ll be writing my thoughts at every 5 percent mark My thoughts at5% I love Aladdin I thought he was really sweet And I love love love seeing Lady Kirstyn again I know this book will not be a disappointment.10% NO Not Aladdin sobs I really love Kristyn and Aladdin together Totally shipping them As usually the writing style superb, storyline is GREAT so far, and new and old characters are wonderful as always 15% seriously y all i m loving Aladdin he s so.ahhhh brave and honourable and PS just a note to you Aladdin, marry kristyn, Kay 20% I m seriously adoring this book SO MUCH I can t say I m happy about Aladdin leaving though.What about Kristyn The historical detail in here is so realistic and accurate pats Aladdin for not taking an interest in Grethel 25% I really like Abu so far He s an interesting but gross character I m SO glad Aladdin didn t give lick to marrying Grethel D30% Anna is such a sweet girl I m loving how things are turning out Always what I expect from Melanie 35% Anna Grow up That s was SO rude I can t believe this is happening Just like Melanie Dickerson to have so many different events at once I m adoring this book so far But Michael is such a pain in the neck, get lost Overall this is AMAZING 40% me right now It s been s super chaotic day so it s the perfect book to unwind with How could Kirstyn be missing for TWO AND A HALF MONTHS HOWWWW I m legit dying over here gals This is so creative and again I will repeat I AM ADORING dis Okay I won t lie, I couldn t stop at 45% to write my thoughts.47% GET AWAY GRETHEL YOU CANNOT MARRY ALADDIN NO NO NOOOO This book just keeps getting better and better I m totally rooting for the whole Kirstyn Aladdin thing Hmm we need a ship name.Aladdlyn or Kirstaddincomment which one you prefer I m FREAKING OUT How can such a beautiful story come from human No no, this is surely from the Lord Almightly Surely 50% Ahhhh Melanie is SO clever But but but.how could Aladdin be engaged to Grethel How Yes it s Saturday and the first thing I did this morning was pick this amazing book up Wowwww Grethel actually is nicer then I thought she was but I m still on the get lost Grethel team 60% YES Whatever I said about Grethel before, that went down the drain NO GRETHEL This book is incredibly amazingly awesome The part where Kirstyn was kidnapped didn t drag on like other books I ve read And when Aladdin found her It s just amazing 65% Grethel is such a snob Like, can t you see it s Aladdin and Kirstyn not you and Aladdin annoyed sigh I am very glad Michael, was captured I really hated him Really Kirstyn sounds so nice, if she were real I would be best friends with her 70% no way I m SO glad Aladdin and Grethel broke up But one thing that REALLY irritates me is that Kirstyn wants Aladdin to kiss her but her doesn t and Aladdin wants to kiss Kirstyn but her doesn t.uhhh That s just getting annoying Things started picking up quickly because I was at a slightly boring part Refreshing book 75% Ahhh Hurry up and ask her to marry you Aladdin That scoundrel How awful he was tell such a LIE Ack I m just loving where this is going DD80% Aladdin should really go see Kirstyn, not write letter I thought he was becoming her fathers Stewart But at least he s not in the other townL neberg And yes I had to look at the book to spell that I used to like Herr Kaufmann but he s actually just a cowardly man now tsks 85% I love love love this mysterious plot I knew Melanie Dickerson would throw something in the story Aladdin has always been a favourite character But Kirstyn Why Go see Aladdin for Pete s sake glares at Kirstyn smacks Aladdin on the back for being cowardly 90% Y.E.S Can I just repeat that Y.E.S OH WOW I truly admire Aladdin When he came to Hagenheim castle and saw Kirstyn squeals delightedly OHHHH And when she was going to punch him, it was soooooo perfect Oh my This book is a heart tugging beautiful story YES MARRY HER 95% I so appreciate the coloured skin Not many books have characters with dark skin these days, but I appreciate it when they do Eeeekkkkk LOVIN IT Totally shipping Kirstyn and Aladdin Can t believe it s almost done 100% Well that was incredible I think I just found a new favourite Hagenheim book This was so well plotted, so well written and so well said I loved the prologue ABU Thank you Net Gallery I could almost give this a five but we re going to settle for a 4 1 2 star rating So how did you like my review GO READ Thissss I love Melanie Dickerson s writing and stories My absolute favorite of hers is The Merchant s Daughter I ve read and reread it multiple times and could continue to do so for a very long time I was so excited to see a spin off of Aladdin as her newest book Unfortunately for me, it wasn t quite what I was hoping for It was a great story, predictable at times and clean This is one that I would definitely highly recommend for YA and Christian fiction fans, and Melanie Dickerson fans who fall in those two previous categories I think that YA aged readers will love this and gobble it up.For me it was hard to connect with the characters Yes, I did have a connection with them at the very beginning Aladdin was written well to show his struggles and his beginnings as a thief and then his being saved from the streets and meeting Kirstyn The first couple chapters show about 13 years of time passing I thought it was done really well Creating connections between us and showing the friendship between Aladdin and Kirstyn But then I had a harder time connecting with them They were still 16 and 18 years old but were written as if they were quite a few years older and I just couldn t wrap my mind around that I tried, I really did Aladdin was awesome, almost a perfect character even though he wasn t and his character acknowledged that he wasn t Then, I struggled with the constant flashbacks of their memories of outings with each other Aladdin sets off to find his fortune to prove his worth to himself for marrying Kirstyn hopefully in his mind They are separated and throughout the separation they remember each other Which is great, but for me the flashbacks showed up too frequently and then when they were back together and thinking about each other so much, they refused to talk or acknowledge their feelings I think also that my life is very busy right now that I was trying to read this and it was hard to feel completely invested in the story I would love to say that I think I would probably connect better when my life wasn t so busy But I don t know if I could say that Even though I have mentioned several aspects that made it harder for a connection between me and this story, there were several things that I did enjoy As I said before, Aladdin was a perfect character I enjoyed his and Kirstyn s goodness Their friendship was sweet and their love for each other wasn t an instant love but grew over time There are many struggles and challenges that they have to face and I liked how the author address many of those challenges and showed that it wasn t an instant fix but that the characters had to work together or put forth effort to fix them.This is loosely based on Aladdin but I think it worked Especially if you don t go into reading it thinking about Disney s story of Aladdin and Jasmine Definitely don t have that perception in your mind because that s not really this story at all.If you are a Melanie Dickerson fan don t let me thoughts put you off of reading this book Take a chance and find out for yourself if you enjoy it I think it will appeal to many others and is a sweet story for YA aged readers.Content Clean Christian fiction so there is talk about God and the characters praying to him occasionally and turning their lives to him Some talk about forgiveness and change There are a couple moments of talk about physical abuse in the story The bad guy is definitely a bad guy He s manipulative, abusive to his girlfriend, threatens lives, kidnaps a character, definitely personifies the antagonist character Written very well and not overly graphic There is also no sexual content, just a couple sweet kisses.I received a copy from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley All thoughts and opinions in the review are my own.Happy Reading As always, Melanie Dickerson is creative in her twists and new takes on fairy tales and history The Orphan s Wish gives new life to characters like Aladdin and Abu, while adding in the beloved royal family from previous Hagenheim books although Kirstyn s older siblings don t play much of a part, as the main focus is on Kirstyn herself One of the things I appreciated most about this story was Aladdin s struggle with appearing perfect to others His desire manifests itself in different ways that redirect the plot and help to open Aladdin s eyes He is an admirable but realistically imperfect character, and a lot of the faith elements that resonated with me came from his part or lines in the story.As for Kirstyn, she endures much in the first half of the book, but the drama doesn t end there Although, I confess the second half felt a little less engaging to me as previous threats faded to the background and new troubles arose A thread of tension remains, but I would say what appealed to me about the plot in the second half of the book was the cleverness of the retelling and Aladdin s growth rather than the uncertainty of what would happen next.In this tale, there s a big emphasis on friendship, which is sweet, especially when Aladdin and Kirstyn are children But their relationship has a bit of modern suspense that might detract from the historical elements The Orphan s Wish hasn t usurped the position of favorite among Melanie Dickerson s books for me I believe The Beautiful Pretender still holds that claim , but it does find its place in this fairy tale series as another enjoyable story with its own unique message and characters With thanks to Thomas Nelson through NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e ARC of this book Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. My blog A Magical World Of WordsThe premise is great and I had high hopes for the book This review will also contain a lot of quotes from the book, because I think that s the best way to show why I didn t like the story.The writing is not great It s amateurish, and littered with cliches examples includeHer touch light like a butterfly s wings ,Blood surging through her veins ,His dark eyes captured her ,Aladdin s stomach tied itself into a knot , andHer soft skin was like silk.The dialogue is also terrible, and way too on the nose There s no subtext whatsoever, and it s just boring.The author has white washed the Aladdin story In the first chapter we get a glimpse of Aladdin in the Middle East Iraq I m guessing It s never explicit , but then suddenly he s carried off to Germany and the story begins there I HAVE A HUGE PROBLEM WITH THAT AND WITH WHAT FOLLOWS The rest of the story takes place in Hagenheim Germany and Aladdin s love interest and the heroine of the story is a girl called Kirstyn, who is blue eyed, Caucasian, and blonde.Look Retellings are retellings, and yes authors change stuff But to take Aladdin to Germany and surround him with white people and have almost every page focus on a blonde white girl That s not what I wanna read about if I wanna read about Aladdin The Middle East, Jasmine, and the whole culture there is the essence of Aladdin s story, and I do not wanna read about a white girl in Germany when I should be reading about a brown boy in the Middle East Moving the brown boy to Germany and filling the pages with his interactions with a blonde Caucasian girl does not remedy that It s insulting to the original story and characters It s called white washing.The characters are so flat and stereotypical Kirtsyn is the beautiful, quiet, well mannered girl who can do no wrong, and Aladdin is the sweet, honourable lad who s loved by everyone and those who don t love him are obviously the villains To give you an idea of just how perfect Aladdin is thought to be, here are some passagesAladdin here He is the wise one He shall be running my business and this town Someday, you watch Richer than all the swag merchants combined ,Everything you do turns to gold, as if God s favor follows you wherever you go You come to Hagenheim as a poor orphan boy from the Holy Land and suddenly you are the talk of everyone at the orphanage You are the stable master s favorite, and you even gain the favor of the duke , who puts you to work in the castle as his steward in training You re the favorite playmate of the duke s own daughter, and when you leave to make your fortune, the first man you meet is so impressed with you that he wants to hire youAnd because Aladdin is a martyr and oh so modestI m not perfect But I wish I was Ugh It s so annoying.The romance is awful It gets worse when the love triangle enters, hence the character of Grethel, and Aladdin s behaviour is appalling as he deals with his feelings for both girlsShe was pretty, he supposed, but not as beautiful as Kirstyn Her hair was brown and smooth, her brown eyes and mouth rather small and delicate He couldn t help comparing her to Kirstyn s pale blonde hair, her full lips, and large blue eyes Kirstyn was also taller than Grethel This was the moment of every day that he should kiss her After all, they were making plans to be married But a memory of Kirstyn would always leap into his mind It was what happened every time he thought about kissing Grethel Aladdin had never really loved Grethel He d only agreed to marry her because well, he wanted to please his mentor And it was an attempt to stop his pain over Kirstyn s death Did you promise to marry her Only after I thought you were gone forever Oh how sweet Not Can Aladdin jolly well make up his mind and stop treating the girls like dirt Poor Grethel, I say But the worst thing about Aladdin and Kirstyn s relationship is how Kirstyn getting abused by the villain is only used to push her towards Aladdin The way the abuse is handled is literally the definition of a romanticised plot device I discussed this topic in yesterday s Romanticised Abuse post, so you can read that in depth HERE I won t discuss it nowThe Orphan s Wishis very poorly written and the characters are unrealistic and boring But the worst thing about the story is how problematic its content is. 3.5 personal rating would give four stars if I was the intended YA audience.This is a great, clean book that I would hand to any teen girl without batting an eye There are some scenes with a bit of violence, but not a bunch of gore There is a kidnapping, so heads up to those who might dislike that element, but otherwise there s really nothing to warn against.It was a really quick read for me and it was nice that it wasn t too terribly predictable Aladdin and Kirstyn are enjoyable characters and the Gerstenberg family was a pleasant one as usual A few modern turns of phrase in conversation got on my nerves, as well as a man being called Priest historically, he would be Father , not priest and a few other such things Super stars go to Dickerson for using blonde blond correctly, since this is an error that has really been on my nerves in a whole stack of books lately.It was fun to see an interracial couple, since that isn t often seen in CF.Thanks to the publisher for a review copy A favorable review was not required. About this bookFrom the streets to an orphanage in a faraway kingdom, Aladdin has grown up alone Until he meets Kirstyn With a father who is the duke of Hagenheim and a mother who is the patroness of the orphanage where Aladdin lives, Kirstyn is a member of the most powerful family in the land and way out of his league Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn s favorite companion for taking walks in the forest, and their childhood friendship grows along with them Through his scrappy skills, intelligence, and hard work, Aladdin earns a position serving in the duke s house But he knows it isn t enough to grant him his one desire Kirstyn s hand in marriage If he hopes to change his station in life and feel worthy of marrying Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim to seek his fortune But once Aladdin leaves, no one is around to protect Kirstyn, and the greedy men desperate to take advantage of her father s wealth take notice Now, than Aladdin s background stands in the way of the future he s worked so hard to obtain His only hope is to rescue Kirstyn and somehow manage to win her hand as well Series Book 8 in theHagenheimseries Reviews of 1 Here, 2 Here, 3 Here, 4 Here, 5 Here , 6 Here , and 7 Here You do not have to read this series in order to understand them, but I highly recommend that you do read them in order Spiritual Content Scriptures are mentioned, quoted, read, remembered Many Prayers Thanking God Going to churches chapels to pray Talks about God Witnessing H s are capital when referring to God Many mentions of God Jesus Many mentions of prayers, praying, thanking God Mentions of witnessing talks about God Mentions of Jesus on the cross crucifixes Mentions of Bibles Mentions of churches chapels cathedrals, church going, priests, stained glass, angels Mentions of Christians Mentions of being baptized a baptism Mentions of being blessed A few mentions of those in the Bible A few mentions of Heaven A few mentions of pilgrims A couple mentions of Godfearing people A mention of a miracle A mention of a cross necklace A mention of a godsend A mention of a sin Note Mentions of evil people their actions words A few mentions of a man having Satan on his side A couple mentions of the devil A mention of a fiend from hell A mention of a demon spirit Negative Content Minor cussing including a stupid and two shut up s A couple mentions of courses said, not written Fights, Fighting, Killing someone up to semi detailed Being hit, passing out, pain, blood bleeding, being kidnapped and tied up up to semi detailed Kirstyn has flashbacks triggers of her kidnapper and attack up to semi detailed A bear attack, being bitten hurt badly from it, pain, blood bleeding also seeing it happen, up to semi detailed Being slapped barely above not detailed Mentions of a kidnapping, believing someone might be dead, blood bleeding, wounds injuries up to semi detailed Mentions of a physically abusive relationship seeing it barely above not detailed Mentions of beatings pain barely above not detailed Mentions of a bear attack, pain, blood bleeding up to semi detailed Mentions of punishments threats of cutting off a body part beatings barely above not detailed Mentions of wanting to slit someone s throat Mentions of wanting to sell a fellow human Mentions of threats Mentions of fights, fighting, weapons, blood bleeding barely above not detailed Mentions of a planned hanging execution Mentions of deaths illnesses barely above not detailed Mentions of stealing, robbing, cheating, thieves outlaws Mentions of poison Mentions of alcohol wine, drinking, breweries Mentions of hatred Mentions of lies, lying, liars Mentions of gossip rumors Mentions of nightmares A few mentions of wars battles A few mentions of threats of killing A few mentions of human animal waste A few mentions of throwing up A couple mentions of gambling A couple mentions of screams.Sexual Content a fingers kiss, four cheek kisses, a not detailed kiss, three barely above not detailed kisses, two semi detailed kisses, and a boarder line semi detailed detailed kiss Staring at another s lips barely above not detailed Wanting to give receive a kiss touch barely above not detailed Touches, Embraces, Nearness x2, barely above not detailed Remembering a cheek kiss warmth barely above not detailed Blushes Noticing barely above not detailed Mentions of kisses, kissing, wanting to kiss barely above not detailed A couple mentions of seeing a couple kissing A mention of a man looking up and down at Kirstyn A mention of lecherous eyes Love, falling in love, the emotions Note A few mentions of a young teen boy s bare chest a girl blushing A few mentions of young women s figures being full and conducive to having children A couple mentions of a wife who died in childbirth A couple mentions of not being molested A mention of a brother trying to molest his cousin adopted sister he was caught before anything happened Lady Kirstyn, age 16 17 Aladdin, age 18 19 P.O.V switches between them Set in 1414 1415 Also a chapter or so in 1401, 1403, 1406, 1409, 1410 Epilogue set two years later Medieval 352 pages Pre Teens One StarNew Teens One StarEarly High School Teens Three Stars Older High School Teens Four Stars My personal Rating Four Stars Best for 14 15 due to romance and some content While not my favorite fairy tale, personally, or my new favorite Melanie Dickerson book, this was a fun read It was different with many the flashbacks at the beginning, but I do like seeing their history together Since typically in romance books, it s common to see the main couple meeting for the first time in the book, having a childhood friendship was really sweet and a nice touch I liked Kirstyn s heart for orphans and, honestly, her goal is my goal Aladdin was a unique character and it was neat to see Miss Melanie s take on his personality Both of their faiths were shown an incredible amount of time and I definitely love it Near the end, it did get a bit kissier than I was expecting, but overall still pretty clean That Epilogue was the cutest thing and made me grin Link to review BFCG may Read the review to see recommend this book by this author It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author I received this book for free from the Publisher Thomas Nelson for this honest review. The Holy Land, 1401 A little boy, grieving the recent death of his mother, is taken under the wing of a street lord and forced to steal in the marketplace for food Until the day he is seen and adopted by a kindly priest, who takes him back to the faraway Holy Roman Empire.Years pass, and the boy grows to young adulthood in the duchy of Hagenheim They call him Aladdin now, which the book treats as a Westernization of Ala ad din He s the big brother of every orphan in town, and he s nursing a wicked childhood crush on the duke s daughter, Kirstyn, whom he once saved from a bear attack and has the scars to show for it.Aladdin knows that a duke s daughter can t marry a man with no title or fortune, so he leaves Hagenheim in the hopes of becoming rich In the next city over, L nesberg, he gets embroiled in a deathly quarrel between a wealthy merchant and his maladjusted son Kirstyn is also swept up in it, and all she wants is to go home Content Advisory Violence A young woman is violently kidnapped, tied up, imprisoned in various dark and unsanitary basements, struck, and repeatedly threatened with death A young man beats his girlfriend Another man hits and threatens little kids.Two men duel and the victor stabs the loser through the heart Sex It would appear that a disturbed young man lured a vulnerable orphan girl who s about fourteen years old to accompany him between cities for sexual purposes, although nothing is shown or stated The same man is said to have molested his own sister Al and Kirstyn engage in a bit of kissing and snuggling Language Nothing Substance Abuse Michael and most of his allies have drinking problems Nightmare Fuel Kirstyn is often held hostage in small, stuffy, dark rooms The whole experience of being kidnapped leaves her with symptoms that the modern reader knows point toward PTSD Politics and Religion The book pirouettes around the subject of the Crusades The wars themselves had ended by the time this story takes place, but their aftereffects were just beginning The book never explicitly identifies any characters as Muslim, even though we know that they almost certainly were One is Aladdin s mother, a poor artisan with a noble soul whom we never properly meet, since the novel opens at her funeral Another is a violent thief lord named Mustafa, who takes the newly orphaned child Aladdin off the streets in exchange for petty thefts Aladdin himself is adopted by a priest as a little boy, so it s not surprising that he becomes Christian while still a child Dickerson has finally tired of bashing Catholic clergy there are two living, wholesome priests in this story Unfortunately, she addresses the elder and important of these characters as Priest instead of Father, and has the younger priest tell Kirstyn to call him Francis As a Catholic, I can tell you that THIS JUST DOESN T HAPPEN That said, at least the characters now do Catholic things like cross themselves, bless themselves with holy water, genuflect before the Tabernacle, look upon actual Crucifixes with Corpuses, and meditate on the suffering and death of Jesus Previous books in this series found characters acting like modern Evangelicals several centuries before that denomination even appeared, so having them observe the rituals that made up a huge part of daily life in medieval Western Europe is a big step in the right direction.A Whole New World, a Whole New Boring Point of View Aladdin always struck me as a folktale that wouldn t adapt well as magic free historical fiction So much of the story depends on the Genie, and so much of the Genie as we know and love him depends on Robin Williams.The well loved Disney version is already far removed from the source material Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp is not even part of the Thousand and One Nights proper It was added in by translator Antoine Galland, who also grafted in the tale of Ali Baba, in a French translation of the tales from 1709 There is no known prior Arabic source to either tale.The original story is ostensibly set in China, although clearly viewed through a Middle Eastern cultural lens The Disney version, almost certainly the best known variant in modern times, moved the setting to a magical medieval Arabian kingdom, changed the name of the princess from Badroulbadour to Jasmine, re sequenced some of the main events the wedding of Aladdin and the princess happens about halfway through the original story , and altered other aspects the Genie of the Ring has been replaced by the magic carpet Of course, we all know that the real main character of the 1992 film is the Genie, whose frenetic energy the screen can scarcely contain.Unfortunately, the mood of the story is completely lost when the setting is changed to medieval Germany The desert, caves, gardens, and vast skies of the Near East are as fundamental to Aladdin as the Black Forest and flowered meadows of Germany are to Snow White and Rose Red and The Goose Girl The later environment is the setting for all Dickerson s other retold fairytales save the two that take place in England And they work fine for those stories But Aladdin needs the desert and The Little Mermaid needs the sea or at least the coast Sheesh.Granted, this series is named the Hagenheim series, and most of the books are about the children of Duke Wilhelm and Lady Rose That said, they follow the children even when they venture outside their parents duchy usually just to other parts of Germany, but still.I don t think it would have hurt this book in fact, I think it might have helped it tremendously to set the story in the Middle East, perhaps in Jerusalem itself Kirstyn could easily have gone there on pilgrimage The factions and unease in the city would have given the tale some badly needed tension, and the setting would have been fresh.Prince Ali, Nothing to SeeThe stale setting would have been alright if the characters had pep Alas, they just meekly plod wherever the plateau of a plot tells them to go Michael is wantonly cruel and demented because the story needs a villain The villain who actually belongs in this story is a power hungry authority figure who demands the heroine s hand in marriage, but Dickerson couldn t use that guy let s call him Jafar because she already shoehorned him into The Silent Songbird, an ostensible Little Mermaid retelling which could have really used a fiendish female villain with designs on the prince or earl, in that case.Then there s Herr Kaufmann He could never have eclipsed a blue genie who does Groucho impressions, but he could have been fun, and at first I found him promising in a Fezziwig kind of way Alas, he instead turns out to be morose and maddeningly gullible.We re told that Kirstyn is insecure, feeling always overshadowed by her adventurous older siblings The narrator repeats this fact several times, but the book never examines it in any depth and it feels hollow She is brave and compassionate, which we see in action when she finally escapes from Michael, or reaches out to Anna despite the latter being complicit in what happened to her So Kirstyn is nice, but doesn t have much of an internal life Whereas there was a bit of steel in Jasmine other Disney Princesses have songbirds for pets, this one has a tiger Our boy Al is pretty vapid and blank If you drew a map of his brain, one hemisphere would be labeled Earning a Fortune to Impress Kirstyn and the other one would be labeled Petty Theft Committed Under Duress at Age Five, Which He Still Feels Very, Very Guilty About The latter is as close as this character ever gets to having a conflict You d really think Father I m not calling him priest , because that s disrespectful would have talked this over with him.Then there s a moment of startling violence on Aladdin s part, where he s dealing with a known villain and stabs the guy through the heart without first offering clemency or trying to disarm him or anything That s not very chivalrous of him It reminds me a lot of the very ending of the Aeneid, where Aeneas, who has spent the whole poem up until that point building an image of honor and grace, viciously stabs a grievously wounded enemy who cannot defend himself and is begging for mercy Turnus was an awful person and so was Michael they certainly deserved their fates, but choosing mercy would have been a major character milestone for Aeneas and Aladdin I doubt that was the effect Dickerson was going for It s completely at odds with the tone of the book up till that point, and a paragraph after the stabbing, we re right back to love letters and skipping through the sunny fields Something s not quite right.I also found it a bit weird that Abu immediately started referring to Al and Kirsty as Father and Mother when they re only about twelve years older than him.ConclusionsOne of Dickerson s weaker books It s not messy and bizarre like The Healer s Apprentice, but it is largely free of plot, character development, or a pulse On the strengths of the well crafted Merchant s Daughter, the rollicking Golden Braid, and the flimsy but action packed Silent Songbird, I m curious about the upcoming book, which is about Mulan and will likely feature some actual conflict I just wish this one could have been as much fun as those three.