Disclaimer: I was given a free, digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.
This is the story of a girl whose heart was stolen, and not in a good way. The beautiful Princess Caityn is well-known throughout the Twelve Realms for her kind disposition and graceful features. She’s loved by many, and envied by few, including some with twisted motives….
Just two nights before her long-awaited wedding to the handsome Prince Theiandar, it is stolen by the infamous Beauty Thief, leaving Caityn drained of both her inner and outer beauty. On the outside, she looks like she’s aged sixty years overnight, and on the inside, her heart has lost its ability to love and care for those around her. Over time, her youthful features will return, but the uniquely abundant goodness of her heart seems to be lost forever. Her friends and family, however, have not lost hope. A fairy tale of adventure, mystery, and a touch of romance, The Beauty Thief chronicles their perilous quest to recover Caityn’s lost beauty, and Caityn’s own search for self-discovery.
I really enjoyed this story. Rachael Ritchey’s writing style is dignified and eloquent, and sprinkled with plenty of wit and humor. We’re introduced to several deep, well-crafted character dynamics, chivalrous princes, heroic knights, and daring damsels, making this story the perfect blend of classical fairy tale elements and contemporary values. This story also handles some mature themes in a frank but classy fashion, including arranged marriages. Ms. Ritchey, an author who values the importance of clean reads for young readers, shows that it’s possible to handle “grown-up” subjects for young audiences with dignity and tact.
For example, in an early scene, Theiandar escorts his fiancee to her rooms – the couple embraces and Theiandar says waiting two more nights until they are married is difficult. Caityn’s emotions are in conflict with her conscience – she, too, finds it hard to wait, but decides she will keep waiting until they’re married before their relationship can become more familiar.
I also want to mention how well Ms. Ritchey handles character expositions. She makes the characters’ dominant personality traits known very subtly through their actions and thoughts, instead of giving lengthy explanations or using Captain Obvious/Mr. Exposition-style characters. Most notable to me was the suspenseful development of the villainous Beauty Thief themselves. We don’t even find out his/her actual identity until the second half of the book!
A lot of the story is told from the perspectives of those around Caityn, and those who are affected by the loss of her beauty. At first, I was worried that I’d be confused by the ensemble cast that’s present in this story, but Rachael doesn’t let a single character go to waste. Everyone has a part to play in the overall story. And although it ends happily, Ms. Ritchey drops a most mysterious hint for what’s to come in the next book…..
There’s definitely a religious element to the story. Although they live in a fictitious fantasy world, several characters serve a deity they frequently refer to as the Almighty and the Mighty One, and at one point discuss theological concepts akin to Christianity in the real world. This may make non-Christian readers uncomfortable, but it’s a very minor part of the story. I’m not a Christian, and in my own writing, I prefer to maintain a “separation of church and literature.” It was, however, interesting to read about characters in a fantasy setting who put their trust in a single higher power. That on its own is a nice, positive message that should be relevant to readers of all monotheistic faiths.
I think that overall, The Beauty Thief presents a powerful message for teenage girls and boys as well: True beauty is measured more by what you do with yourself than what you look like. We live in a world where a lot of focus is put on how you look on the outside, and it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters. Beauty trends change with each passing decade, but it’s what we do with ourselves, regardless of how we appear, that ultimately withstands the tests of time.
Having read this book from cover to cover, I think The Beauty Thief is an excellent, gripping read for fans of clean, Christian-oriented fantasy, ages 14 and up.
To find more information about The Beauty Thief, its sequel Captive Hope, and its awesome author, be sure to check out these links:
Where to Buy The Beauty Thief
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