"Sorcerers, Woodsmen and a Bespelled Apple in This Dark Fantasy"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted June 13, 2014
This retelling of a Norwegian fairytale takes place in a
time when girls are married off by fathers and a princess's
hand is worth risking life and limb for in a mad challenge.
THE GOLDEN APPLE sets Princess Kayla on top of a glass
mountain with a gold apple in her lap while knights gather
to try to reach the apple. Dark magic has to be at work,
and nobody trusts a sorcerer.
Warrior Rane in his dark armour manages to win Kayla's
trust and she throws the apple down to him, breaking the
rules but binding the two of them together by the spell in
the apple. In order to free Kayla from its hold, the
sorcerer instructs the pair to fetch him a jewel which they
must steal from a witch in the dark forest outside their
land of Gaynor. Then he'll loose the spell. By the king's
earlier word, the two are betrothed, so Kayla agrees to
change into a man's garb and follow Rane De'Villier - a man
she barely knows.
THE GOLDEN APPLE is a fast-moving tale with just enough
description to set the scene; to let us feel the cool air on
our skin and scent the tang of pine and dark earth. Rane
hasn't told anyone that the gold apple is a prize he needs
in order to free his brother from captivity. That, not a
princess bride, was the reason he faced the challenge. On
the other hand, he defends the princess from desperate men,
when she hadn't even realised they might be shadowed. If she
had to be magically bound with someone, he's not a bad
The tale becomes darker as the pair travel through wild
woodland where various kinds of magical forces are prowling.
Trolls, grindylows, giant cats and woodsmen populate this
seemingly empty terrain, and strangely Kayla discovers that
she has an affinity with wild magic. Will that be enough
to keep them alive?
If you enjoy a good Middle-Europe style dark fantasy, you'll
certainly take to this gripping adventure with a romance
twist. THE GOLDEN APPLE will be followed by 'The Silver
Pear' to continue the story. Michelle Diener always writes
with assurance and total immersion in her surroundings and
history. I can also recommend 'Daughter Of The Sky' by her
about the Zulu Wars and she has written another fantasy
called 'Mistress Of The Wind'.
Kayla's world has been turned upside-down . . .
Her father has made her the prize in a deadly, impossible
tournament, and Kayla has retaliated in the only way she
knows how; by choosing her champion beforehand. But taking
control of the outcome changes the game completely, and when
the real reason behind the strange test becomes apparent,
Kayla realizes not just her life, but her entire kingdom is
Rane's honor is torn in two...
In order to save his brother, Rane will do whatever he has
to--including deceive and betray a princess. He knew nothing
about this tournament would be easy, but when it turns into
a deeper, far more sinister game, Rane is forced to see it
through to the end, or leave his brother at the mercy of
Now their fates are entwined, and they must venture into the
deep, dark forest together . . .
Kayla and Rane are bound to one another by an enchantment
and Kayla's actions. But the sorcerer forcing them to do his
will may have miscalculated, because no-one comes out of the
Great Forest unchanged. No-one.
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