THE GOLDEN APPLE by Michelle Diener
The Dark Forest: Book One
Release date: 24 March 2014
About The Golden Apple:
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 at stake.
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 their enemy.
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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What reviewers are saying:
The Deciding Power
Fairy tales are wonderful explorations of our personal sub-conscious, and of a collective sub-conscious, as well.
One of the recurring themes of fairy tales is the dark forest. The symbolism of entering the dark forest is one of confronting the darkness of our own sub-conscious, and grappling with issues of identity and rebirth. Respected Jungian psychologist, Marie-Louise Von Franz, who was a leader in work on the interpretation of fairy tales, discusses how entering the forest is the starting point for the hero or heroine’s life-changing deeds and decisions. Where they go from being unconscious of themselves and their abilities, to a more conscious state. I loved weaving that fairy tale aspect into The Golden Apple, even though it wasn’t part of The Princess on the Glass Hill, the original tale I based the story on.
A criticism of fairy tales is the passivity of heroines. Cinderella has to be found by the prince and saved, Snow White kissed awake while she lies passive, Sleeping Beauty, the same. But there are fairy tales were the heroine is more active. East of the Sun, West of the Moon, which I based my fantasy novel Mistress of the Wind on, is one of them, and in that, the heroine is clearly the hero and the protagonist of the story. But there was also a flash of that in The Princess on the Glass Hill, and why I became interested in the story in the first place.
At first glance, the story is like Cinderella, Snow White etc, in that the princess can do nothing but sit on top of her glass mountain and wait while the knights try to ride up the smooth, steep glass to pluck the golden apple from her lap. She will have no choice but to marry whoever manages to do it. But there was a line in the story which caught my eye. It said the princess threw down the apple to the hero as he tried to reach the top. In other words, she had sized them all up, decided who she’d prefer to have, and helped the hero to win. She seems to have no power, but in fact, she has all of it, in that moment. She has the golden apple. She can throw it to whoever she wants, or, in fact, hold on to it. No-one can reach it without her assistance.
This interesting twist on power, who wields it and how it is used, inspired me to write The Golden Apple. I ended up diverging wildly from the original tale, but at it’s heart, I hope I reflect that interesting power-switch that the original was hinting at.