Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
This book was not even on my radar (i.e. it was not on my to-read list on goodreads). I stumbled across it when I was wandering through the bookstore (a favorite past-time of mine). The gorgeous cover caught my eye and I just knew I had to read this book immediately. I don't care what the old adage says, sometimes you can totally judge a book by its cover.
Princess of the Midnight Ball is a retelling of the Grimm's story The Twelve Dancing Princesses (a.k.a The Shoes that were Danced to Pieces). It's the story of Rose and her eleven sisters who are forced by an evil curse to dance every night in the kingdom Under Stone with the twelve not-quite-human princes. Even when they are to ill to attend dinner they must still dance. The king, like any loving father, was very concerned about his daughters continuous exhaustion and frustrated that not a single one of his daughters could/would tell him where they go every night. Not to mention the fact that he could ill afford to replace their dancing shoes every morning. So what does King Gregor do? He announces a contest of course! Whoever can find out where the princesses go within three nights will be the future king of Westfalin. Many princes had tried, failed, and met a tragic fate when Galen, a former soldier working in the king's garden, requested his chance to try to solve the mystery. Galen had two secret weapons that the princes did not; an invisibility cloak given to him by a crazy old lady and the help of a strange old gardener who knows a thing or two about magic. I don't want to spoil the ending so I will leave that there.
How is the re-telling different from the original story you may ask? Well, most glaringly, the Brothers Grimm never tell us how the princesses get sucked into this curse. Jessica Day George does a wonderful job explaining why and how by creating the princesses' mother. Queen Maude is the prime example of why you should think about the consequences of your actions. George of course goes into much more detail about the characters than the Brothers Grimm, but what do you expect when you're comparing a novel to a three page story.
George draws several key elements out of the original making it quite obvious what story she is retelling. The curse (obviously), the invisibility cloak (and the crazy old lady that gave it away), the contest, the soldier, the silver wood that leads to a lake are all courtesy of the original.
Overall, it was an excellently done retelling. If you love fairy tale or princesses I definitely recommend checking it out. Reading level wise its unmistakably meant for young adults (probably eighth or ninth grade), but I must tell you that even as a twentysomething I couldn't put it down.
P.S. This is my first review so if you see something I need to work on please let me know. I wasn't sure how much detail to go into because I really don't want to spoil the book for anyone.
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