The Piper’s Pursuit follows along the rest of Melanie Dickerson’s fairy tale retellings. It’s predictable, straightforward, and a little cheesy. But there are merits to the story and characters that some readers can benefit from.
The village of Hamlin is in danger. Children from the village have gone missing while a mysterious beast haunts the surrounding woods. Katerina, hardened by cruelty from her step-father, is determined to save her village, even if it means killing the beast herself. But when Steffan, a former soldier, arrives in Hamlin on his way home from war, everything changes. Secrets are revealed, danger unravels, and Katerina’s own heart begins to soften.
Like The Warrior Maiden, The Piper’s Pursuit has a little bit more action than the previous books in the Hagenheim series. Katerina is a hunter and Steffan a soldier, so the two of them head into the woods to find and fight the Beast of Hamlin. There is also a fair bit of running, hiding, escaping, and fighting in the latter half of the book as the danger unravels. This higher tension gives the story a little more edge than some of the previous books.
While the books are set during a time when women didn’t have a lot of rights or options, Melanie Dickerson always makes her female characters independent and strong. Katerina is no exception. She is determined to do whatever it takes to help her town, no matter what the men around her say or do. She doesn’t give into their desires but fights hard to protect herself and her mother against her abusive step-father.
Steffan’s story, however, is just as moving as Katerina’s. Drowning in guilt from his past as a soldier, Steffan is like the prodigal son and when he returns home, he learns the power of forgiveness. This is a Christian book so the forgiveness aspect ties in with God’s forgiveness. The characters also lean heavily on their faith throughout the book, but I never felt it was overwhelming or unrealistic.
The Piper’s Pursuit is supposed to be a retelling of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin” and while some aspects (missing children, piper, rats) were present in the story, I didn’t think it was that focused to be a retelling. It was more along the lines of a story inspired by the “Pied Piper.”
As always, I recommend Melanie Dickerson’s books for a younger audience itching to read YA books or anybody who wants a straightforward historical romance with a dash of fairy tale aesthetics and a PG rating.