The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

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Don’t be fooled by the beautiful cover or the fact that “it’s based on Swan Lake and Robin Hood”, this book is horribly boring. 

*some spoilers, but it’s so predicable nothing should be considered spoilers*

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Odette, the huntress and supposedly female version of Robin Hood, is the orphaned niece of a merchant and pouching from the margrave’s forest to feed the poor. She’s early Katniss Everdeen, only she’s less snarky, less brave, less of a personality and will never go hungry herself again. Jorgen is the new forester who will do anything to catch the poucher, not knowing it’s the girl he’s fallen in love with. It’s forbidden romance – of course it will happen, no secret there. But there’s also this third wealthy guy I can’t remember the name of who wants to marry Odette and so he does anything to split them up. At least he’s honest about what a douche he is.

What bothered me most about this book was how predictable it is. I wasn’t wrong about guesses a single time, and I couldn’t even feel good about it because I was so bored. This book made every other book seem like an original masterwork.

The only thing that works is the straight-forward (at best) writing. Unless you’re – like me – annoyed at the use of the word “Ja”, which means Yes in both norwegian and this supposedly german language. This book makes me want to never say the word again. Or see Robin Hood. Or read another “historical novel” in a long time. Have women be oppressed, throw in some misplaced Bible learning in this fantasy-ish story and claim it’s placed in the Holy Roman Empire. That’s how you get into that historical novel genre and not “get it at the convencience store near you – romance”. That’s also a word in norwegian – kiosknovelle – but I don’t know how to translate it, which still beats the author not translating fucking “Ja”.

It has a fucking masquerade ball. I laughed out loud. The perfect example of an over-used element. What happens at masquerade balls (in books)? People are mistaken for other people, causing drama. It’s so good at being predictable you almost have to applaud it. Also if you haven’t already figured out the plot a few chapters in, the author so graciously sums it all up in big speeches, often in big chuncks at the end of the last chapters. Below the cut there’s examples, all spoilers. To sum up this book was a big miss for me, with nothing but cliches and info dumps.

“Jorgen has devised a plan whereby the people of Thornbeck might look after the poor orphan children of the town. I believe it is a plan you helped him with.” He glanced at Odette. “It is a feasible plan that might all but eliminate the problem of children stealing bread and other food from the vendors at the market, while the merchants exercise their Christian duty, as you say, to care for the poor widows and orphans. Jorgen has spoken to the Bishop of Thornbeck, and he has offered a certain portion of the church’s assets to this effort.” Odette’s heart was in her throat as the margrave stared down at the parchment in his hands. “Jorgen has some donors already secured from among our wealthier citizens. You have done a good job with this proposal.” He raised his brows approvingly at Jorgen. “I do believe that Rutger Menkels’s house, which is not far from the city center, will serve well as a home for orphans. What do you say, Odette?”

“And as I have acquired Rutger’s storehouse near the north gate, I believe it may serve as a place for young widows to learn to work and earn money while their children are being cared for. What do you think, Jorgen?”

“How their fortunes had reversed. She had thought his position too far beneath hers a few days ago. Now she was poor, stripped of her home and her security, and Jorgen was the new chancellor of Thornbeck, the owner of a beautiful manor house, and the advisor to the margrave. Just minutes before, marrying Mathis seemed her only choice, and now she found herself being ordered to marry Jorgen. But somehow she didn’t mind.”

“You know, I would not be marrying you if you weren’t such a good archer.” “How is that?” “Because if you had not been so good at poaching, Rutger might have convinced you to marry Mathis months ago.” 

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