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Hagenheim #3

The Fairest Beauty

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A daring rescue.
A difficult choice.

Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl's inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother's future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.

When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.

323 pages, Paperback

First published January 8, 2013

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About the author

Melanie Dickerson

35 books5,674 followers
Melanie Dickerson is a New York Times bestselling author, a two-time Christy Award finalist, two-time Maggie Award winner, Carol Award winner, two-time winner of the Christian Retailing's Best award, and her book, The Healer's Apprentice, won the National Readers Choice Award for Best First Book. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Melanie earned a bachelors degree in special education of the hearing impaired from The University of Alabama and has worked as a teacher in Georgia, Tennessee, and Ukraine. She lives with her husband and two children in Huntsville, Alabama.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,076 reviews
Profile Image for Anne.
4,065 reviews69.5k followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
November 23, 2019
DNF at 39%

Warning: This is Christian Fiction
Not that there's anything wrong with that...
I reallyreallyreally would have appreciated knowing that, though, before I invested my mother-#@!ing reading time in this sucker!
There is no way I would have picked this thing up if I'd known what I was getting into.
Where is Tipper Gore with her little Advisory stickers when you need her?!


I kept wondering why the hero and heroine kept saying things like, "God help me escape", or "God, help me to be strong.".
And I also wondered why Snow White (or Sophie) was such a freakin' goody-goody.
I must be kind, I must forgive, I must follow my Savior's example.
Ok, admittedly, that last one should have clued me in.
But it wasn't that they prayed to God that got under my skin.
Oh no.
I started getting annoyed when Gabe (hero) was soooooo impressed by Sophie's chaste ways.
"She truly was a virtuous maiden, nor flirtatious like some, nor selfish, nor anxious to put herself forward. She would make a wonderful wife for Valten."
M'kay. I was just about ready to vomit and put the book down at that point.
Then a few pages later, it became crystal clear that this wasn't just any old fairytale retelling of Snow White.
"I have most of the book of Saint Luke memorized. Would you like me to recite it to you?"
"Of course," he said. "That would be good."
Sophie began reciting Jesus's parable:
"A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited..."


Yeah. Um.
No, thank you, but this is not for me.

However, if anyone out there is looking for Christian Fiction, then you might appreciate this story more than I did.

Profile Image for *❆ Kαɾҽɳ ❆*.
414 reviews70 followers
June 29, 2018
Wow, another fantastic novel by this amazing author!

I love fairytale retellings, there is not a amount where I will give up not reading a fairytale Retelling. I just love how different author's write their own twist and perspective to these tales

And Melanie Dickerson is one of my favourites, because she combines historical fiction and Christian fiction in her tales!

Anyways, back to the review, this is the tale of young maid who is living in terror with her step mother. Sophie has endured much of her stepmothers punishment and cruelty even since she can remember. She is an orphaned child and was left in the care of her stepmother, who never loved her.
But Sophie finds love and care in her fellow maids, such as the cook. And she finds hope in praying to God everyday that he will deliver her away from her stepmother

Gabe, is the second son to the Duke and Duchess of Hagenheim Castle, Wilhelm and Rose. The MC for the first book "The Healer's Apprentice". He is also betrothed to a woman that has been arranged by his parents.
Gabe is not as serious or responsible as his older brother Valten is. And he isn't as strong or competitive as him. But when an old woman comes in to the palace claiming that the dead daughter of the Duke Baldewin is still alive but has been living as a servant in the household, she has to be rescued immediately since she is Valten's betrothed since they were children.
Except Valten cannot go since he is injured, so Gabe feels in his heart to find her and rescue her himself, defy his parents and be the hero and return her to her fiancé

But thrown together, they will face many challenges and encounters with many people. Will they survive these problems, and will they also protect their hearts from each other?

Such a beautiful tale, loved the style of writing and the development of the characters. We could see how far Gabe grows in this novel. Beautifully written, cannot wait to read the next book
Profile Image for Amy.
2,636 reviews418 followers
June 11, 2020
I want.
I want I want I want I want I want.

Edit: some spoilers to follow

Finished 07/2013
Thank you, Ginnie, for lending to me ^.^

I will be honest, when I finished this book, I seriously lost my temper. My sister urged me to wait before writing a book review, and I am glad I did, if only because it gave me time to organize my thoughts better. It wasn't a bad...well, it was fairly lousy book. I despised the romance. I will be upfront from the first, this one isn't going on my favorites or to re-read shelf any time soon.

Gabe is the second son of Lord Hamlin and Rose (y'know, from The Healer's Apprentice?) Well, anyway, that's not important. What is important is that he has an older brother, Valten, who is the future Duke and good at everything and he is betrothed to this girl, who everyone thinks is dead.
Except she is not dead.
Sophie is a lowly maid to the Duchess Ermangard
Word arrives at the castle that Sophie might be alive but unfortunately Valten (conveniently) broke his leg and can't go rescue her for a few weeks. Gabe (who is like Jacob of Jacob and Esau) decides 'hey, I should go fetch her....wouldn't that stick it to my brother! mwahahaha!' (pretty much just like that too) and so he goes off on his merry little way to save the potential fiance.

And he finds her and they run away and come to the cottage of the seven Not-Dwarfs.
But oh! Gabe and Sophie have fallen in love! What will they do? She is betrothed to his brother....and he engaged to another!

Let's start with a general commentary on the characters.


No worries fairy tale lovers! Whether you who adore Disney's rendition of this sweet, charming, utterly clueless young woman or prefer the relatively nameless young woman of the Grimm rendition, your heroine is safe here. Sophie is sweet, kind, considerate, loves everyone, does her best not to hate people, wants to learn, only longs for a family and protection, and despite having been a drudge since age 2, is virtuous and good and reads Latin and...um....is about as dimensional as the above picture. Oh, and she's the most beautiful woman in all the land, cooks amazingly, sews complicated gowns without a pattern, sings charmingly....is there anything she can't do? Yeah, be believable. As if attempting to give her character a "human side", Sophie attempts to swallow her anger against her step-mother (succeeds immediately), is "hostile" and "suspicious of men" (lasts about...oh, a chapter), struggles to consider herself beautiful or useful when she has been told she is ugly since a baby (that takes about...well, a compliment from Gabe to dispel), and tries to stop herself from feeling anything but sisterly emotions towards Gabe (which...well, she never really succeeds at that but it's okay! GRRR. WAIT till I get to that part of my review....)
So there is Sophie for you. I present to you, world, a gag-perfect woman who doesn't care a thing for title, power, wealth because she only wants luvvvvv.
She I can excuse at least. She I can indulge and be amused by. It's Gabe I lost my tempter with....


Gabe is pretty much as deep as Sophie. But more annoying. He's a healer, excellent marksman, brave, popular with the ladies, enjoys flirting and flattering and writing songs (this is where you are supposed to pick up he is a bit of a lady's man....and like him for it? Zzzzzzz) Oh! And let's not forget, he's round.
At least, he has "issues".
Firstly, he's the poor younger son who shames his mother and never wants to study! But no worries! The simple act of falling in love will utterly transform all his habits, his nature, and his general personality. He will go from a pansy to a prince! He will think nothing of land or title, but merely want to make a place for his family as...an an architect or builder or something. *blink*
But oh! Don't forget! He has malicious intentions in rescuing Sophie! He wants to steal her from his brother! Well, that motivation lasts...maybe-not-even for about ten minutes after he meets her.
Unbelievable. I will give credit that there is an attempt to make him realistic, believable, round. It just doesn't come across as believable. And he ended up ticking me off excessively. I'll address that in my rant about the romance.


Who pretty much looks just like that too.

Unbelievable villain. Really? She becomes a horrible witch (of which there is not only no proof, not even the supposed murders she committed. So she's not really that evil? Or she is? Huh?)because her husband didn't have a pet name for her? Geesh woman! Counseling! Get some! Her character was inconsistent and weird. She's totally evil...wait! she didn't really kill that guy! or...that one...or hey, that guy over there. And she's...well, totally vain! And disillusioned. But she hates music! Unless...Gabe is playing it apparently. I just didn't get her. I didn't get why any of the guards would stick around and be her little minion.

[image error]

Does she like, pay really well or something?

Well, anyway, like the plot we shall breeze on ....

The Seven Dwarfs



And five....other....guys.
Of which one of them is actually a dwarf!

A very wise dwarf....so like a short Gandalf....or Yoda!

And he has a weird connection with the cook that is never fully explained? I thought they were married but obviously THAT wasn't true.
Then there is a giant....but he might be Dopey. Or the mute is Dopey? Unless the mute is the giant?


No matter, they aren't really that important anyway.

We have....The Huntsman

Whose role is....well, to be that creepy guy, y'know? The one who is pervy and distresses the girl for a while? Except he conveniently isn't all bad.
I think.
He sort of runs off the pages and become unimportant.
That sort of happens to most of the characters. They are dragged in or dismissed with little ceremony and often they seem to be there because the original fairy tale calls for them, not because a huntsman would actually smooch up to the Duchess.
In fact, everything revolves around that oh-so-important plot element....the romance.
I hated it. I hated it because it had no business being. Sophie has lived in relative seclusion knowing no man except possibly the creepy Huntsman. Of COURSE she is going to fall for the first guy who shows up, be he Valten or Gabe. Her love was entirely non-unique. She was desperate to belong, desperate for family, and Gabe totally played on that. He manipulated her longings and justified it...how? Because he was physically attracted to her? He had no right to seduce his brother's betrothal, and seduce is exactly what he does. Even saying they both had a mutual attraction, he presses on farther than he ever should have. He tells her he loves her, kisses her. Tells himself that he might have put her virtue at risk because they stayed the night together.
Sophie has no reason to dislike Valten. Valten is a good guy. They might have been quite happy together. He certainly seemed like her and he wanted to get know her. But no....she's cold to him. She doesn't even give him the time of day. And why? because his little brother snuck in and "won" her heart first. It wasn't even a competition. She "chose" between the brothers before she even met Valten. There was no competition. There was no rush. Gabe, with a fiance of his own, claimed her love by pushing his own when she would have happily become Valten's wife none the wiser.
I don't care what the two of them moaned about viewing the other as a "sister" or "brother". WAAAAYYYYYYYYY to much good paper space full of their protestations and a lot of good it did them.
Disgusting. Despicable. I was left furious with their romance. It isn't that I don't buy it. Oh, I buy it, and I think less of Gabe for it.
Spoiler - I found how things tied up with Gabe's betrothal dreadful. It was so rushed, so entirely ridiculously convenient. REALLY? She just went off and got married? REALLY? THAT isn't entirely well-timed. That was the ONLY MILDLY INTERESTING PLOT POINT LEFT and that is totally SMASHED INTO CONVENIENT TIMING.
Ugh. I'm getting angry again. What nonsense. What utterly ridiculous nonsense that romance is. Gabe is not a character to be admired, swooned over, idolized. His behavior is never reproached. It's all, after all, for "love". A love he should not have pursued! You cannot tell me he is such an "honorable man" and "entirely changed" because he decided to go after his brother's hot betrothed.

I shall continue reading Melanie Dickerson from loyalty, the same reason I finished this one. However, my expectations for her Cinderella re-telling are rapidly sinking.
Profile Image for Sarah.
237 reviews1,114 followers
June 14, 2018
Seventeen-year-old Sophie is a scullery maid for the cruel, vain Duchess of Hohendorf. The Duchess enjoys sadistically punishing everyone who crosses her path, but saves a special hatred for Sophie, for the girl is strikingly pretty and the Duchess envies her.

Meanwhile, in the nearby fiefdom of Hagenheim, the Duke’s family has taken in an elderly woman on Death’s door. The old servant, Pinnosa, tells the Duke and his two sons, with her dying breath, that Sophie, daughter of the late Duke of Hohendorf, still lives.

Sophie matters to the Hagenheim family because she was the betrothed of Valten, Hagenheim’s heir. The betrothal took place when she was an infant and he was five. Two years later, Sophie was apparently dead of one of the many fatal illnesses that cycled through medieval Europe.

Valten isn’t sure whether to believe Pinnosa’s story. He’s vaguely curious, but can’t go to Hohendorf anyway because he just broke his leg in a jousting accident. His younger brother Gabe, who’s something of a wild child, thinks that this lead is too interesting to delay investigating. He defies his parents and rides to Hohendorf, (badly) disguised as a pilgrim, to search for his brother’s betrothed.

And he finds her—a pretty and genteel lass, who endures the obsessive sneering of the Duchess and the invasive advances of the fiefdom’s huntsman, Lorencz. Sophie can also read, an extremely rare trait in scullery maids but a common one in aristocrats. To the surprise of exactly no one (except Sophie, who has no self-esteem) Gabe starts falling for the girl himself.

The Duchess panics, realizing that the handsome and silly young man who just rode into her territory is probably a Hagenheim agent here to rescue Sophie. So she imprisons him in her dungeon while sending Lorencz to drag the girl into the forest and kill her. Gabe escapes, and Lorencz is unable to finish the dreadful deed demanded of him. Sophie and Gabe find each other, but now they’re lost in the wilderness, with a murderous duchess sending agents to kill them, no food or medical supplies, and no quick, safe way to Hagenheim…

Content Advisory
Violence: Lorencz slams Sophie’s head against a tree to knock her cold, and tries to stab her but decides against it. Gabe and Sophie both get wounded with arrows; his injury becomes infected and needs several weeks’ tending.

Sex: Lorencz hits on the naïve Sophie in a way that makes her decidedly uncomfortable, even forcing a kiss on her once. She’s more amenable to the advances of Gabe, since he at least appears to be pious, and is certainly nicer than Lorencz. But Gabe also breaks the rules of polite behavior in those days, kissing his brother’s fiancée a few times. Sophie immediately likes Gabe back, but feels uncomfortable about their relationship until the engagement to Valten is formally sundered. Another servant girl brags about having sex with Lorencz, and it’s unclear to what degree she was exaggerating or making things up.

Language: Nothing.

Substance Abuse: Nothing.

Politics and Religion: There are a LOT of references to Jesus, using language that can’t be traced further back than the American revival movements of the nineteenth century. That said, there are actual traces of medieval Catholicism in this story, making it a huge improvement on the first book in the series.

The Fairest Beauty is a sequel to The Healer’s Apprentice, featuring the children of Wilhelm and Rose from that book in young adulthood, and it’s a marked improvement on the earlier installment in the series.

Sophie, while still a bit overscrupulous and too quiet, is actually somewhat proactive. She takes measures (such as carrying a hidden dagger) to protect herself, and is capable of lying or misleading if she can save her friends or herself that way. The “I can’t love him because he’s betrothed to another” plot is repeated from Healer’s Apprentice, but this actually works in Dickerson’s favor, showing that she’s rectified many of the initial flaws in the series. Sophie shares Rose’s virtues but is actually portrayed as a human.

Gabe takes a lot more after his indolent uncle Rupert than his uptight father, and that’s mostly a good thing. He’s an attention-hungry rascal, but he admits this much about himself and asks Sophie (and by proxy, the reader) to be patient with him and love him in spite of that. Sometimes he overestimates his own charm, but plenty of lovable antiheroes before him have done the same.

Hawkeye and Margaret

Gabe's not as cool as Hawkeye Pierce, granted, but who is? I still like him very much.

The Duchess doesn’t bring anything new to the table as far as “interpretations of the Evil Queen from Snow White” goes, and her motivation is never given the airtime it needs. But unlike Moncore from the first book, she is true to her archetype, has a motive that at least sort-of makes sense, and is not prone to histrionics and demon-summoning. That’s all win. I thought her death sequence was drawn out past the point of best dramatic effect, but that’s a matter of subjective taste. She’s a perfectly serviceable villain.

This time around, you can actually tell what fairytale the story is based on. Some of the symbols—especially the apple—are forced in way too hard, and it’s unclear to me how the Duchess disguised herself as an old beggar since there’s no magic in this universe. But I really did like the portrayal of the “Seven Dwarves” who in this version are a diverse crew of outcasts from medieval society. They were sweet guys, and I hope to see more of them in the series.

I’m also curious about the development of Valten and his sister Margaretha, who apparently get main character duties in The Captive Maiden and The Princess Spy.

So while I had a lot of problems with the first book in this series, it’s improved a lot since then, and I’m glad I gave it another shot. My complete review of The Healer’s Apprentice will be up soon. Looking forward to the rest of the books in this series.
Profile Image for Shantelle.
Author 2 books358 followers
November 16, 2016
An utterly beautiful retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Fairest Beauty captivated me. It was sweet and enchanting … dramatic and suspenseful … and of course, filled with romance.

I loved the characters, they were fresh and alive. Sophie was perfect in the role of Snow White, even better than I could have imagined. I liked that she struggled over the love triangle going on, knowing she was promised to Gabe’s brother, knowing she should be honorable, trying to convince herself she thought of Gabe as just a brother. She was innocent and feminine, and it was so refreshing.

Gabe and Sophie’s escaping journey was both daring and “hold-your-breath”, and also sweet and fun. The Seven were endearing. The queen was indeed an evil queen. The new characters put into the classic tale added fresh meanings and fullness to this retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

And of course, it made it ever so much better that it was a Christian rewrite of the classic fairy tale. That just makes it all the more happy for me. ^_^

It took a while for the end to progress, but all in all, The Fairest Beauty was well worth waiting for. –A beautiful story to match a stunningly gorgeous cover. I have never enjoyed the fairy tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs so much!
Profile Image for Ry.
129 reviews1 follower
April 4, 2022
Ok, this might be my favorite book in the series so far! (it will probably change. I'm looking at you, Princess Spy. Don't fail me) But I loved the way this was done! I completely forgot about there being 7 dwarfs until 7 men appeared in the story. XDD But I really enjoyed this retelling!! And Gabe was awesome!!
Profile Image for Anne.
502 reviews509 followers
February 19, 2015

Snow White has been one of my favourite fairy tales ever since I was a little girl. It was one of the few Disney VHS we had in the house, and I watched it often. I always found the story thrilling and exciting, and was hoping that The Fairest Beauty would convey the same feels. But careless-impulsive-book-hoarding me bought it a long time ago without realizing it was a YA novel. I do not like YA novels. Mainly because I prefer to read romance between adults and not teenagers, but also because they are an odd mix of far-fetchedness and good plot, with too many implausible actions to take the story seriously, but enough adventure to keep you interested, and the long and short of it is that I never know what to make of them. I know that this book is a fairy-tale retelling, and is therefore meant to be light and for enjoyment purposes only, but I couldn't help wishing, as I read along, that the author had taken more time to develop the characters and work on the plot. I saw so much potential for an amazing story, filled with lavish period details of the 15th century (which were seriously lacking here!) and a great re-working of the original Snow White plot, that the mish-mash presented here left me really disappointed. The general idea is really good, I grant you, but that is just the problem; it reads more like an outline than a novel.

Snow White, aka Sophie, is a scullery maid at Hohendorf Castle where the mistress of the house, the redoubtable Duchess Ermengard, loves to torment and bully her. She locks her up in the dudgeon for trifles, makes her work hard and insults her all day long. Sophie nevertheless remains a good, humble and charitable girl, always ready to forgive her enemies. She displayed very good examples of Christian virtues throughout the story, and even though she was a bit too "bland" and lacked personality, I really liked her. She truly was Snow White personified, with her immeasurable goodness and incredible beauty, and I found her very loveable.

Her "prince" however, the hero, Gabe, was another story. Okay, I admit he was cute, in a very immature and boyish way, wanting to play the hero and rescue the fair maiden and all, and his intentions were good all along, but let's face it, the poor guy was an idiot. He just leaves his castle to go find Sophie after Pinnosa told his family that she was in danger, and not only does he have NO plan at all on how to rescue Sophie, prove that she is the daughter of a long-lost Duke, defeat the evil Duchess, run away, and bring her back to safety at his own castle, but he EXPECTS THAT EVERYTHING WILL GO WELL. I kid you not. He arrives in Hohendorf pretending to be a poor pilgrim or something, but doesn't remove his jewelry or his fashionable boots that clearly proclaim his nobility, and then wonders idly why everyone is staring at him, and why no one believes his story. Then, when he finds Sophie and blurts out the truth about her birth, he expects her to swoon in his arms and fall on her knees in a fit of gratefulness, before hopping on his horse with him to ride back to Hagenheim.

I swear I almost DNFed. Almost. I was close, sooo close!

But I chose to read on only to be more disconcerted by what happens next. In order to "charm" the Duchess to...we're not sure what because poor Gabe doesn't have a plan, he decides that he will sing to her and play his lute, and maybe...what? What is he hoping for? That she will just let him and Sophie go?!?!?! Is he daft or what?!

But, brace yourselves, it works. It works. I couldn't believe it. I wasn't sure if it was all a ruse on the Duchess' part, or if she was as imbecilic as she was vain, but it was definitely the latter. Why Duchess Ermengard, who kills anyone she pleases and doesn't let strangers come to the castle suddenly lets herself be charmed by Gabe's playing, I have no idea, but it made NO SENSE. I'm serious, the first part of this book, with Gabe's rescuing at the castle, was horrible. It was so bad.

I should have DNFed right there. Everyone knows what happens in Snow White anyways.

Except about the super fun twist about Gabe actually being engaged to another chick, and Sophie being engaged to Gabe's elder brother!!! Isn't this exciting!! Things get complicated though, because even though they are trying so hard to deny their attraction to each other, Gabe and Sophie fall in love! Who would have thought?! They aren't supposed to be in love! THEY ARE BOTH BETROTHED TO SOMEONE ELSE! Oh, the horror. What are they going to do?! This is an insurmountable obstacle! Duchess Ermengard and her killing potions and mad guards in pursuit to kill you both, you can handle, but the forbidden love! Oh! Too much!

Have I mentioned that Gabe hasn't seen his "fiancée" in over a year and that Valten (Gabe's older brother) has never even seen Sophie?!?! And that Sophie doesn't have any parents (so far) that could interfere, and that Gabe's parents are very kind and understanding?! Had I mentioned it?

Yet there they are, lamenting over the fact that they can't be together and trying to either fight their love (Sophie) or determinedly stating that they will find a way to defy conventions and be together (Gabe). He keeps saying that he will "find a way" for them to be able to marry, yet he does nothing.

*Anne exploded at this point*


This is the 15th Century for heaven's sake, it's not like there wasn't any paper and quills!

I don't how I did it, but I managed to finish the book. I must admit that the parts with the Seven were good and kept me interested, and I liked to meet Gabe's brother Valten. I happen to own The Captive Maiden, the next book in the series and Valten's story, and I must say that I had enough interest in him to make me want to read his book. I'm just crossing my fingers it won't be as stupid as this one.

Fairy tale all the way or fairy tale not at all, but please, no in between!! If you're going to make this a complete fairytale-esque piece of fluff, then go all the way and at least have Gabe resurrect Sophie with a kiss when she eats the apple, but if it was supposed to be a reasonable and plausible story, I don't know what to say. Paper and quill, man. Communication.

Someone went a little crazy with Snow White gifs, I apologize ;)

Profile Image for Melanie Kilsby.
Author 2 books276 followers
August 30, 2017
Oh, the feels!!

Yes, I cried, I laughed out loud and I even wanted to put the book down! *Gasp* It was such an intense scene at the end of the book and I was like... NOOOOOOoooooOOOOOooo!!!! I had to just get up, finish my coffee and then go back to reading, lol! I am so glad I did. Thank you for hard things like wood. *wipes sweat off brow*

So, for the actual review...
The book is larger than the rest in the Series and took a bit more to get through. Yet, it didn't feel like it was too long. It was perfect, I feel, for the story! I really thought this book did well in the whole "Snow White" feel. Melanie truly captures the original fairytales yet, bring you to a whole new level in History, while still having adventure and romance. I absolutely ADORED the Cottage of Seven when they finally arrived there. Just adored each one!!! I don't even know which one is my favourite yet.

Ahh, Sophie. Sweet, little Sophie and her carelessly brave rescuer! This book is a picture of redemption and coming into oneself, or taking responsibility. Too bad some chose the wrong path. But, true to Christianity itself, it was offered to all - but the choice is only in the person to accept it or not. That is their responsibility. What a great story. I kept singing the song Priceless by For King and Country through it. It is PRICELESS!

Melanie never fails us in another classic retelling!
Profile Image for Emma.
404 reviews2 followers
February 17, 2022
2022 Reread- Reading this again after three years, ahh! This book really has a place in my heart. Really great memories. It’s really what started my love for the Hagenheim series and the Gerstenberg family (aka one of the most beloved royal fictional families in my book.) I still love my darlings! Gabe and Sophie… my heart!❤️ Oh, and I still love Gabe a whole lot. He’s just kinda hard not to love. 🥰 (I had such a big crush on him at fifteen and still do)
It was so nice revisiting Hagenheim and the Gerstenberg family. All the feels.❤️ There’s danger, romance, action, faith… *sigh* The plot twists and the moment that made me want to scream “NO!! That didn’t just happen!” (The first time I read that scene… I was not ok)
I still love the cozy cottage and the Seven. They’re all so great!
It’s just a really good Snow White retelling and I love it. The faith is inspiring and adds so much to the story. The characters are so lovable, except for the villains of course. The plot is quick-paced and kept me turning pages. The romance is so cute and so sweet. It’s just a great book. Now I really want to read Valten and Gisella’s story because you can’t just leave Valten like that. 😉
Profile Image for Elevetha .
1,810 reviews165 followers
May 24, 2013
1.5 stars.(I wanted to give this 3 so I wouldn't feel like such a horrible person but I couldn't. I didn't hate the book by any means, it was better than the other two, but it just didn't have enough to make me want to read it again)

I'm gonna repeat what I said in my review of The Merchant's Daughter : But I'm seeing an annoying trend in this lady's books. Perfect main characters that have been wronged in some way, overly Christian main characters, weird creepy dude A) stalking the main girl or B) trying to take advantage of but then love interest that isn't a love interest yet saves the girl and she doesn't trust him but he's always good looking and he treats her with kindness and he's "gentle" and she starts falling for him against all the odds and they can't be together because of reasons and "God save me, I'm so attracted to him/her" and then they end up together because true love prevails.

This is actually more true now than it was then. Sophie is perfect. I mean that. Annoyingly prefect. And Gabe is stupid. Again, too perfect. No one likes perfect people and this rule applies to characters as well. I do like their story(and the story in general) better then The Merchant's Daughter or The Healer's Apprentice. It seems better written, though with many similar flaws, and it's still not that well plotted or written, esp. that horrendous romance.

"It was as if they were the only two people in the room, as if he was strumming her soul, seeing straight into her heart with his penetrating brown eyes."

Not only that, Amy, but "strumming my soul" is so sappy, it's giving me oogies. (If you've never seen Avatar: The Last Airbender, then I apologize)

"He wanted to argue that she belonged to him because he had risked his life for her, taken an arrow for her."

Now I'm not a feminist but this is taking it a bit far. "Belonged to him"? If it was "belonged with him", that'd be fine esp. considering the context of when he says this (Trust me, knowing the context doesn't make his statement any better) but's it not. And not even his reasoning makes sense. I'm sure Sophie appreciates that you saved her life, Gabe, but that doesn't make her yours. My brother saved my life but I am not now his servant and she sure as hell isn't something for you to own, like a parcel. I don't care if it's the 1300's, you don't say something like that. Esp. since that didn't seem like Gabe's personality. Like it was just thrown in for funsies or something.

Better than the first two books, but still not that great.
Profile Image for Madisyn Carlin.
Author 13 books226 followers
October 18, 2022
I would like to impart a disclaimer that the general reference to Ms. Dickerson's books extends only to those published before The Piper's Pursuit. I've not read the author's latest releases.

There's no denying Ms. Dickerson possesses the ability to create page-turning fairy tale retellings. She's also unafraid to include faith, which I applaud and appreciate. This book had potential. A clever retelling of an old fairy tale, an evil antagonist, and a host of characters who, while not fully developed, were interesting. If not for the major issue, this book could be 3 or 4 stars.

Unfortunately, the major issue is too big to overlook, and too influential to the plot. I have no issue with clean romance. I expect romance in a fairy tale retelling. I don't know if it could be a fairy tale retelling without romance. The problem is The Fairest Beauty doesn't really have romance. Oh, it has the beginnings of it. Boy and girl meet. Both find the other attractive. Great. That's fine and well. Romance in a Christian book usually begins with thinking the other is cute, then developing to admiring the other's faith, personality, and quirks. The problem is, this book begins with cute romance and quickly catapults into lust. It's unwholesome and inappropriate for a Christian book, let alone one read by preteen and young teen girls. In fact, most of Gabeheart's and Sophie's relationship is saturated with lust. There are some good qualities to their relationship, but they're overshadowed by these improper, worldly feelings. They don't know each other for long before this begins to develop, and it just flattens what could be a nice story. I'm not saying Gabeheart and Sophie were bad characters. They both possess admirable qualities. The romance just wasn't handled well.

I dislike leaving low star reviews for Christian authors. However, we as Christians are called to a higher standard in our writing, in our message, and this standard was, overall, missed. Which is unfortunate, because this story really did have potential.

The Fairest Beauty has an absolutely stunning cover, marvelous inclusions of faith, and decent characters. I regret I can't recommend it though to preteens and even teens. If you do decide to read this book, beware of the lust.

The negativity of this review does not reflect on Ms. Dickerson's other books (except The Healer's Apprentice; I can't recommend that one for a different reason) (see aforestated disclaimer). If you're looking for some 4-and-5 star (personal ratings) books of Ms. Dickerson's, I highly recommend The Merchant's Daughter, The Captive Maiden, The Princess Spy, and A Medieval Fairytale Series.
Profile Image for Michelle.
465 reviews33 followers
October 17, 2017
I just read the third book in the series, with no idea I was doing so. Without reading the first or second book.😒
Profile Image for Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls).
1,647 reviews3,649 followers
February 6, 2016
About this book:

“A daring rescue. A difficult choice.
Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?
Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl's inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother's future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.
When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.”

Series: All of Melanie Dickerson’s books are connected: “The Fairest Beauty” in considered #3 in this series. “The Healer’s Apprentice”(#1, review Here!), “The Merchant’s Daughter” (#2, review Here!), “The Fairest Beauty”(#3), “The Captive Maiden”(#4) and coming in November, “The Princess Spy”; should be read in this order for the least amount of spoilers.

Spiritual Content- Sophie has a very strong Faith & prays a lot; Sophie has most of the book of Saint Luke memorized & quotes it; Gabe quotes Scriptures as well; Monks are in these book; Very strong Faiths; Talks about God, His Will, & trusting Him.

Negative Content- Minor cussing including: a ‘shut up’, four ‘stupid’s, and an item is called cursed once; The Duchess had a guard drown a sack of puppies but Sophie saved them in time (barely above not-detailed); the Duchess slaps Sophie; hints & mentions of drinking; hare gets killed & eaten (not-detailed); Blood, hitting, slapping, almost killing, and poisoning (it is the story of Snow White, after all).

Sexual Content- a semi-detailed kiss & a very detailed kiss; two ‘wretch’s; hints of flirting; a jerk kisses Sophie & tries to touch her cheek (she slaps him away); Gabe gets hurt and his shirt has to come off (Sophie tries not to look); Love, falling in love, the emotions & touches (semi-detailed being the highest).

P.O.V. switches between them, Pinnosa, Duchess Ermengard & Vallen
Set in {Medieval}
323 pages

Pre Teens- One Star
New Teens- Two Stars
Early High School Teens- Three Stars
Older High School Teens- Three Stars (and a half)
My personal Rating- Three Stars (and a half)

{Because the story of Snow White is kinda harsh and all the lovey-dovey stuff, I had to lower the ratings}

This retelling of the story of Snow White –with a lot of twists and turns—and characters with amazing Faiths. It was refreshing to read a “romance” book with both main characters having a strong Faith, as most Christian Romance novels have one of them struggling in that area.

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Link to review:

*BFCG may (Read the review to see) recommend this book by this author. It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author.
Profile Image for Renee.
Author 14 books125 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
March 7, 2013
Okay so I bought this not realizing it was Christina fiction, when you look at it on amazon unless you read the author bio and the publisher info it does not say this is a Christian book. But it is, I mean really, really Christian. So I feel a little stupid, but hey shit happens.

I don't have an issue with Christian's and many people said this was a good retelling of snow white...So I decided, what the hell I will read it. Why not? I mean it got good reviews and most of the reviewers didn't mention the Christian aspect and some of my friends on good reads had it on their shelves.

I DNF around page 45 due to the fact that I just couldn't get passed the so many references to "our lord and savior" that just were not important to the plot. Also the villain... She was a horrible bitch who wouldn't let Sophie wear her cross, burned down a church and killed a priest. Basically telling all Christians that non Christian's hate your faith and want to destroy you...This just isn't true and made me sad the author couldn’t think of anything better to do with an “evil queen.”

I totally could have finished this if it didn't fall into so many Christian fiction tropes. The heroine is a Mary sue, smart, beautiful, innocent and wonderful, everyone loves her. The villain is hard cold, evil evil evil!!! Without any real reason why she is that way... I guess it is just because she doesn't believe in God...Who knows? Either way after the billionth eye roll I couldn't handle it and returned it for a refund on amazon.com...Thank the Goddess for kindle.
Profile Image for Gabs .
482 reviews74 followers
April 5, 2015
Read more of my reviews at My Full Bookshelf

I just realized what I didn't like about this story; THE CHARACTERS! Yes, I think that must be it, because I just read two different fairy tale retellings, each with protagonists that were strong, witty, and had so much more character development and I looooved them.

The rating for this book was originally three stars. However, I'm redoing my rating system, because I honestly was bored out of my mind while reading this whole story, and why the heck should it deserve three stars?

There. I blew off some pent up anger at having to read this, I suppose. Now for the real, rant-free review. (Hopefully)

I hate that I didn't like this, because I was really excited to find an author who wrote Christian retold fairy tales. Those are my two most read genres mashed together (and of course they're two of my favorite genres, otherwise I wouldn't read them so much). In theory, The Fairest Beauty should have been my dream book. Well, it wasn't.

Sophie, the main character, was a boring, hopelessly perfect in every way, main character. And she was weak! I know that all the original princesses were not exactly the epitome of 'strong women', but this is a retelling! Your oppurtunity to make Snow White more than just a damsel in distress! Also, there was nothing truly original about her character. I really didn't see Sophie as being very different than the Disney Snow White, except for the fact that she didn't burst out singing "Someday My Prince Will Come." Note: I know that at first she seems pretty strong. Wait a couple chapters. She gets progressively weaker, in my opinion.

Now we have Gabe. He actually wasn't too bad. At least he had some personality, unlike the pale Mary Sue mentioned in the above paragraph.

I remember that another thing that I knew from the start I didn't like about this book was the fact that everything works out so perfectly in the end. Even

After much pondering, I have decided that Sophie was the weak link in this story. If she had been a better character, for lack of a better term, I would have really enjoyed this story.

I don't really know who I would recommend this to. I hesitate to say people who enjoy Christian fiction, because this is definitely not the best the genre has to offer. I think that fairy tale lovers might enjoy this story, but this fairy tale lover didn't.
Profile Image for Kristina  Wilson.
1,177 reviews42 followers
January 11, 2022
Why has it taken me so long to read Melanie Dickerson? I loved this retelling of Snow White! This is the third in the Hagenheim series, but the first one that I've read. While there was some content towards the end that seems to reference the first in the series, I think this works well as a standalone. While it is a retelling, it is very much it's own story with some interesting twists on the familiar plot. The faith weaved throughout the lives of the characters was phenomenal. I will for sure be reading the rest of this series and beyond from Dickerson!

In Medieval Germany, Sophie is a scullery maid for the wicked Duchess Ermengard. In reality, she's daughter to the presumed dead Duke Baldwin of Hohendorf, but her fiendish step-mother has kept the truth of her identity hidden for years after faking her death. Sophie endures the deplorable treatment she receives by cloning to God and the pages she has of the gospel of Luke.

Gabeheart is the brother of the man betrothed to Sophie in childhood. An old woman travels to Hagenheim, where Gabe's father is Duke, revealing that Sophie is alive. Due to an injury, Sophie's betrothed is unable to make the journey to verify this claim, so Gabe decides to make the journey himself after feeling called to do so. As it turns out, his urgency and willingness to disobey his father in taking the journey may be the reason Sophie remains alive.

The Seven Dwarves appear in the story at the halfway point, living at the Cottage of the Seven, which is known to be a place of refuge and safety. The men have been brought together due to their physical or intellectual disabilities, which deemed them misfits, demon-possessed or cursed at this point in history. Each of them has their very own personalities and quirks:
-Dominyk the Wise: "Doc" ; the leader of the group who is the only dwarf among them
-Siggy: "Sneezy"; he speaks with a stutter and is very self-conscience
-Vincz: "Sleepy"; appears to possibly have narcolepsy but has a heart of gold
- Bartel: "Bashful"; a monk and the healer of the group
-Gotfrid: "Grumpy"; seems to have had head trauma and head surgery, leaving him with a large scar
-Henric: "Happy; a giant who appears to have developmental delays
-Dolf: "Dopey" by process of elimination, not by any of his characteristics; he's deaf but does not let this effect his abilities to be an integral member of the group
Profile Image for Charity U.
935 reviews59 followers
October 17, 2019
This book was a lovely surprise! I was quite sure from reviews of Melanie’s other books, and also from the back cover, that I would enjoy this book…I just didn’t know how much! This is a delightful retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. But it isn’t really a fantasy book…everything that happens really could have happened! There isn’t any “magic” like you usually see in these retellings. However, it is easy to see how in later retellings (I’m pretty sure this is the TRUE story) magic was worked in. The characters depended on God, making them clearly Christian. However, this didn’t detract from the delightfulness of the story in the least! The dwarves were changed, but recognizable…and that’s all I’m going to say about that here. Go buy a copy. :) Oh, also, if you’ve read The Healer's Apprentice, I’m pretty sure you’re going to find a character or two to recognize! I haven’t, but I caught the reference through pure luck. Definitely want to read more by Melanie!
Profile Image for Jesseca Wheaton.
Author 12 books185 followers
January 23, 2016
This is the 2nd book I have read by Melanie Dickerson (yes, I've been reading them out of order). I didn't enjoy it quite as much as "The Princess Spy", but it was still such a sweet retelling! I absolutely LOVED her retelling of the seven dwarfs! They were all so sweet! and that ending! Wow, I had no idea how she would wrap that up!
Some things I didn't exactly care for was the fact that both of them were engaged, yet they were very attracted to each other. It sorta bothered me, even though it did turn out all right. I'm also not a huge fan of love triangles, and this book did seem to have one of those.
However, all things considered, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can't to read the next book! :)
Profile Image for Alicia.
347 reviews76 followers
March 5, 2018
This retelling of Snow White added creative twists and turns to the fairytale and made an exciting read. I would have preferred it to be longer, though, because some parts of the story seemed rushed and the ending was way too neatly wrapped up. I couldn't help but roll my eyes at some of the the romance bits as well. I did really like Sophie and Gabe, and I thought that they were strong main characters, albeit a bit clueless at times!

In the midst of a very dark, evil presence (the stepmother), I loved how the story spoke strongly of hope, faith and fighting against the darkness.
Profile Image for Aria.
Author 5 books77 followers
February 28, 2019
I liked it, but it wasn't as good as the other two. Plus, it seemed a little contemporary (as in the characters' actions, language, etc) for me.
Profile Image for Rissa.
1,422 reviews47 followers
September 30, 2017
Hard to rate this because it is a retelling and it is very similar to the original snow white but I did enjoy it none the less
Profile Image for Andrea Cox.
Author 3 books1,662 followers
May 10, 2021
Snow White might not be my favorite Disney movie, but The Fairest Beauty was a well-told reimagining of this story. I enjoyed the plot, loved the nods to the Disney tale, and cherished the romance of this one despite its not being an original romantic arc. This story was engaging, thoughtful, and intriguing. It was a quick read that entertained me pretty well.

The faith thread felt a bit confused, as some of it was Catholic but the rest was Protestant.

Content: sexual innuendo, alcohol, one expletive
Profile Image for Nastassja Loots.
112 reviews
November 6, 2014
I hate giving bad reviews. Truly, I take no pleasure in criticizing someone else's efforts - However, I am always truthful in my reviews, and I have to start of by saying this book took me forever to read. It did not hold my attention, I never became emotionally invested in the outcome and I had to force myself to finish it. I'm still in the process of trying to retrain my brain to abandon books I don't enjoy, but alas, I still have mild OCD when it comes to finishing what I start.

From the blurb I assume it is understood that this is a retelling of Snow White. While I usually enjoy a fresh take on a classic, I just did not enjoy this book at all. This isn't going to be a detailed review, I will just point out what I have a problem with. First of all, I don't like the characters. Sophie is just way too good to be true. She is portrayed as this perfect person who memorizes and quotes Scripture, and never sins. Ever. She doesn't even harbour ill feelings towards her stepmother who abuses everyone around her. This is just absolutely unrealistic and makes it impossible to relate to Sophie. As for Gabe, he is portrayed as arrogant and self-indulgent - kind of hard to like a "hero" when the only reason he went to rescue Sophie was to stick it to his brother. Against his parents' direct instructions and against Valten's wishes, Gabe nevertheless went to find Sophie by himself. It is expressly stated in the book several times how much joy Gabe gets from being the one to find his brother's fiancee. Later he tries to convince himself and everyone around him that God placed the desire in his heart and that it must have been God's will for him to be the one to find Sophie. I have a HUGE problem with this approach considering this book is classified as religious fiction. Please remember, Ms Dickerson, that honour thy father and mother is one of the ten commandments. You can't have your character wilfully disobey his parents for purely selfish reasons and try to justify it by claiming that it was God's will. This can be very confusing for non-believers reading this book as it is a pretty big contradiction. I would rather have had Gabe not try to justify his behaviour at all, admit he did something wrong and learn from it - that would have been more realistic, as well.

Ermengard (another problem I have is the author using annoying, hard to pronounce names) is a ridiculous villain and I couldn't take her seriously. She's so pathetic, I questioned the backbone and integrity of the whole cast of characters who allowed her to treat them the way they did. I also had no respect for Sophie's father who deserted his Kingdom after Ermengard tricked him into believing Sophie had died. He just up and left, leaving his loyal subjects to be tormented by his evil wife.

Last, but not least, I did not see any chemistry between Sophie and Gabe. Their relationship was not believable to me and I had no emotional connection to either of them. I had developed more feelings towards Valten in the limited time I got to spend with him (ten pages?) than I ever had for either Sophie or Gabe.

Towards the end of the book I just started skipping sections, wanting to reach the end; I even skimmed right over the final confrontation between Sophie and Ermengard (which should have been gripping, right?). Sadly I just did not enjoy this book at all.
Profile Image for Beth.
783 reviews318 followers
June 30, 2015
I love fairy tale re-tellings. There is just something about knowing the old story, yet reading it in a fresh new style. Dickerson definitely delivers that with The Fairest Beauty. Having read her first two books, I have to say that I enjoyed this one the most. The plot was more fast moving and more adventuresome than how I remember the first two. There were definitely big things at stake, which lent a more urgency to the story.

What keeps from bumping it up to five stars is that some of the characters just didn't have enough depth for me. Sophie is nearly perfect - she's beautiful, always kindhearted (even in her thoughts toward the evil duchess who is trying to kill her!) and just wasn't someone I could always relate with. Some of her decisions were way too naive - I wanted more of a twist with the "old woman" and apple scenario. It was very Disney-esque. Now, for the fairy tale aspect, I suppose that it makes sense that she is kind and perfect and good, but at times it was a bit much. I liked Gabe much more! He was endearing, impulsive, foolhardy, stubborn and all-around likable - there were real flaws there and that made him realistic in a way that Sophie never becomes for me.

There are also a couple of plot points that come across as devices instead of naturally occurring in the story, and the ending was very "deus ex machina." Something just happens to make everything easier on the characters, and I thought it just came across as too convenient.

Despite these two issues, I still had fun reading this story. I loved the "Seven," and the way she twists the seven dwarfs idea around a bit with their different characteristics. They weren't cookie-cutter with the different characteristics, which I really loved. The romance is also really sweet, and I thought it was very well-done. While it might have been shorter compared to other stories, it fit in well with the fairy tale element.

I found the family aspect of the story to be well-done too. Gabe & Sophie have to realize that their actions have consequences not only for them but also for their family, and the way they rise to occasion when this happens is admirable. They draw strength from their faith without the spiritual elements coming across as preachy. It felt very natural within the story.

It was also neat to see the characters from The Healer's Apprentice at the end of the story - it was a very subtle connection, but fun if you've read the first book. I don't think it would be a problem to read this one first though as no plot-points of the previous book are given away.

I realize that I'm not technically the intended audience for this book - I'd imagine a young teen girl probably would have no problem with the things in which I found issue. Even so, I loved this for being a light, fun fairy tale with characters that had many admirable, endearing qualities.
Profile Image for Historical Fiction.
924 reviews602 followers
April 2, 2016
Melanie Dickerson has done it again, offering readers another imaginative fairy tale adaptation, this time taking on the classic Snow White in her third release, The Fairest Beauty.

As with her first two books, Dickerson combines the classic tale with both history and religion. While I've seen fairy tales mixed with history before, Dickerson is the only author I've encountered to have infused the classic stories with faith. It is an interesting combination to say the least, one that creates a rather original twist.

I personal don't mind inspired literature and don't consider the use of religious themes a factor when rating the books I read, but I will say I felt the theological material in The Fairest Beauty is featured more prominently than it was in The Healer's Apprentice or The Merchant's Daughter. Might be something to think about if you are the kind of reader who doesn't appreciate faith based lit.

I did like some of the other twists Dickerson offered, the concept she used for The Seven in particular, but like many other reviewers feel there were a lot on plot twists that seemed simply too convenient and made things too easy on Gabe and Sophie. Call me crazy, but I like when the odds are a little less in the protagonist's favor.

That aside my only real disappointment came in the form of Duchess Ermengard. I'm sorry, but the inherently wicked stepmother doesn't appeal to me. Yes, I am bias because I am a member of the E.V.I.L. sisterhood, but even so, I find it disheartening that even in re-imagined adaptations the stepmother role enjoys little if any metamorphosis. I realize there needs to be a bad guy, but that being said we've given strength to the traditionally vulnerable role of Snow White, can we try giving some depth to the queen, some real motivation for her hatred and anger?

Despite feeling that Dickerson didn't offer up any truly ground-breaking variation to the story, I feel the book is pleasantly distinctive and will appeal to those looking for lighter reading material.
Profile Image for Princess Emilia.
16 reviews
April 11, 2013
Melanie Dickerson is my new favorite author :). The Merchant's Daughter and The Healer's Apprentice are two of the best books I have ever read! I ordered them off Christianbook.com and finished them both in 4 days! :) They'r so good in fact, that I had to beg my mom to give me back The Healer's Apprentice in exchange for The Merchant's Daughter, and I am already reading them again two weeks after I finished. :) I can't wait for The Fairest Beauty to come out, I know that it's going to be just as amazing if not even better! :)
Profile Image for Asura.
81 reviews30 followers
July 16, 2013
The book was pretty good but I don't think it was nearly as good as The Healer's Apprentice and The Merchant's Daughter. I loved the other ones better. But this book was still alright. And I really loved the Seven. I only wish the author could have mentioned something about what happened to them all and Roslind and Siggy.
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