I Received this ARC from Thomas Nelson Fiction via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
And trust me, this review will be brutally honest.
Now, I hate writing scathing reviews almost as much as I like reading them but I’ve learned that in life, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I didn’t find The Noble Servant to my liking and I feel like I have to justify my reasoning, seeing as there are many positive reviews for this book.
First of all, I think I may have started reading it on the wrong foot and with completely skewed expectations. You see, I didn’t really know the author and so thought I was getting a book like Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl. I mean come on, look at the cover.
However, as I read through the first chapter, I felt a little cheated. It wasn’t awful but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Instead of this:
I got this:
I can’t even find the right words to convey my disappointment, seeing as The Goose Girl is one of my favorite books and this one didn’t even come close to it. But, being the mature person that I am, I reeled in my despair and decided to give Melanie Dickerson a fair trial. I even checked out two of her other books, The Captive Maiden and The Beautiful Pretender. I liked the latter the best out all three because of the interesting premise but it still wasn’t the epitome of a great story.
I really, really tried but I could not get into this book.
The characters were all flat, the plot was all flat, and the writing was all flat and I don’t just mean flat because they were all squished in between the pages of a 300-page book. No, no, NO!
I liked Magdalen in The Beautiful Pretender but in this book, she seemed to have lost that vital whatever it was that made her an interesting character in the other book. Maybe it was too much
screen page time, I don’t know. She was contradictory in the worst sense of the word. See, she wants to help her people but she doesn’t seem to have a problem looking down on servants and animals. I kept hoping Magdalen would be like Ani from The Goose Girl who had a horse, whom she adored, and who actually connected to the geese and befriended the servants, instead of look down upon them, but that never happened with Magdalen. It felt like the author couldn’t decide who Magdalen was. Either she’s a nice person or not, because sometimes Melanie Dickerson tried hard to make her pitiable and compassionate and then I turned the page only to find Magdalen thinking about hanging people and stabbing people in their sleep. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind when the characters have a little blackness in their heart, but it just wasn’t executed properly in this book.
Then there was Steffan. Oh Steffan. I wanted to like him, very much, but alas, it was not meant to be. He fell into the same trap as Maggie and that was annoying, self-contradictory behavior of I’m innocent and Off with their heads and I wuv her but I kant mavvy her. Boohoo, is that all you care about?
Also, neither of the protagonists acted like well-educated individuals. The readers were just told that they were.
Other characters were very simple caricatures of villains and servants. I didn’t care for any of them, except maybe Lenhart. I wanted to say I wish there was more of him in the book but I’m afraid that would just ruin him just as it ruined Magdalen.
Ok, as for the plot. I think it was a good idea, a great one actually but I wished it was executed better. Like, why were the villains so obviously evil and stupid? Hazen and Elrich, I’m looking at you. I can’t tell you what they did because I don’t want to be spoilering my review but it was so far out of the realm of believable that I couldn’t find any cares to give for the protagonists. Like come on, there are so many loopholes in the villains’ master plans that I’m surprised they got as far as they did.
Maybe that’s why the story felt like it was dragging. The villains were so clearly bad at their jobs that the author had to keep coming up with boring and lazy ways to stop the characters from achieving their goals.
And finally, we come to the writing. It was simplistic and read like a book for children. The descriptions were vague, as in I couldn’t imagine the world the story was taking place in. And the dialogue was redundant and halting and sometimes it didn’t even seem to matter to the story. Also there were too many German words without translations.I usually like the inclusion of another language, but please be kind enough to translate it, otherwise the readers are left guessing and the whole flow of the story is interrupted.
In the end, I didn’t care for the book nor for Magdalen or Steffan. The only reason it got two stars from me and not one is because of the premise. It was really, really good, but unfortunately, everything else couldn’t hold up the weight of all that potential. And there was potential.
For more GIF riddled reviews, come back every Wednesday (because that’s when I post them).