Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Synopsis: As the crown princess, Rose is never without a dance partner. She and her eleven sisters are treated to beautiful gowns, slippers, and dances at party after party in their father's palace. But their evenings do not end when the guests return home. Instead, Rose and her sisters must travel deep into the earth to the wicked King Under Stone's palace. There, the girls are curse to dance watch night, even when they grow exhausted or ill. Many princes have tried - and failed - to break the spell. But then Rose meets Galen, a young solider-turned-gardener with an eye for adventure. Together they begin to unravel the mystery. To banish the curse, they'll need an invisibility cloak, enchanted silver knitting needs, and, of course, true love.

This is the first of three books I read that retell the story of the Twelve Dancing Princess, first introduced by the Brothers Grimm in 1812.
Of the three, this one follows the original tale closest. The twelve princess are named for flowers (a common choice in retellings of this fable) and they are run from late teens to toddler. One of the reasons this tale is easy to retell without getting boring is the original never specifies why they dance - whether cursed, forced, choice or joy. This story chose cursed, a curse that twisted well with the hero, a solider, and the secondary plot of a country broken by war. The world-building, the war, the people, are loosely based on European society, but not enough that it loses it's magical quality.
The hero, Galen, has a depth the is pleasant to read. A solider who fought and lived through horrible events, but maintains a lightness, a humor, and a humility that makes him a wonderful character.
And the knitting! Galen knits, part of his appeal, and it becomes pivotal in the story. The author even includes a pattern in the back of the book!
The princess had less depth, aside from the oldest few, which is to be expected. It would be impossible to build detailed characters in a YA novel and have it be short enough. Rose, the main princess, was an endearing character, her pain, joy, loyalty to her sisters and concern for her country gave her a depth I enjoyed.
As for the love story, it was obvious, but still sweet and believable. Over all, this was a delightful retelling, one I would recommend.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 12-18-2011
Pages: 272

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