Narrator: Jude Mason
Series: Hagenheim #11
Length: 320 pages
Length: 8hr and 25min
Reviewing eARC, Audiobook from Netgalley, Audible
In this reverse Cinderella story, a poor farmer’s son, who dreams of using his talent as a woodcarver to make a better life for himself, falls in love with a duke’s daughter and must fight for a chance to win her heart.
Adela is the youngest daughter of Duke Wilhelm of Hagenheim and is never allowed outside of the castle walls. She loves her family, but she sneaks away one day to the market in the town center. There she meets a handsome young man and wonders what it might be like to fall in love with a poor farmer with a kind heart instead of marrying the man her family is suggesting for her.
Frederick earns the income for his family and defends his mother from his father’s drunken rages. He also uses his talent and creativity to carve figures, animals, and scenes into wood, and he's asked to carve these scenes into cathedral doors when his talent is noticed. Frederick is inspired by the sweet and beautiful Adela, but he has no knowledge of her true identity. When he gets swept up into a plan to kidnap the duke’s daughter, both are shaken by what they learn about the other.
With the heartbroken Adela resigned to an arranged marriage with her noble suitor, Frederick must decide what he’s willing to risk for love.
The Peasant’s Dream by Melanie Dickerson is the eleventh book in the series Hagenheim, which is a cross between historical fiction and fairytale retellings. Here we get the story of the youngest daughter of the duke of Hagenheim, Adela, and an aspiring woodcarver, Frederick. This gender bent retelling of Cinderella is an easy read, though tedious at times, and wholly predictable.
Oi, this one was slow-going. Not until the last few chapters did it really grab my attention. I usually like these particular retellings, but this one was probably my least favorite.
Agreed! While I received an arc from Netgalley, I purchased the audiobook hoping that switching to listening would help, but it didn’t, and that is of no fault to the narrator. Jude Mason did breathe a little life into the story, and without her narration, I probably would have DNFed instead of finishing.
As the youngest daughter of the duke, Adela is pampered and sheltered from the world outside their castle. She is exactly what you’d expect from a duke’s daughter: accomplished in needlework and painting, well educated, and beautiful. The story opens with her being courted by a nobleman’s son, Lord Barthold. He isn’t at all what Adela pictured in a suitor. He is handsome and a bit reserved, but she feels none of the things her elder sisters and sisters-in-law described upon meeting their spouses. She wants more, and she fears this makes her “spoiled” as she has overheard the guards say about her. Adela, unfortunately, falls flat. She isn’t really fleshed out.
Frederick is the son of a farmer who dreams of being something more. His father is an abusive man, who takes all his anger out on his son. Frederick prefers this to the anger being directed at his mother or younger sisters. I respect him. He’s kind and gentle, yet extremely protective. When the opportunity comes for him to show his woodcarving work to the Bishop in Hagenheim, it is one he cannot pass up. When the bishop offers him a job carving the new doors to the cathedral, it feels like a dream he never could have dreamed for himself. Then he meets Adela and a new life, one he never dared hope for is within reach.
I wasn’t a huge fan of these characters. I like a stronger female and a broody male lead. Frederick wasn’t broody at all and Adela was kinda blandly written.
Adela was hard to care for when she isn’t fully fleshed out, even if I liked the woodcarver she meets in the Marketplatz. He’s a dreamer, and he works for that dream.
As Adela and Frederick begin to meet in secret and a friendship blossoms into love, a whole other story plays out in the background. There is always something that tears the two apart: Adela not telling Frederick she’s the duke’s daughter, an attempted kidnapping while she is out with Lord Barthold, Frederick’s awful excuse for a man father, and well you get the picture. Despite the constant action, we really struggled staying focused on the story.
The writing is good, the plot is okay, but I had zero connection with the main characters. I could not focus on their story or feel anything about what happened to them as the plot progressed.
I liked the bit of suspense towards the end of the book, and I like Basina’s arc. That’s the only reason this was a 3-star rating from me instead of 2. It was just okay for me, but I didn’t hate it.
Overall, The Peasant’s Dream is neither a great story or a bad story. It’s just okay. It didn’t excite us or cause us to skip meals or stay up late reading. The Cinderella connection is tenuous at best, though you can see it in the mean father and the disparity between their social classes. This was a 2.5 star read generously rounded up to three.