Sunday, April 8, 2012

Princess of the midnight ball by Jessica Day George

Galen is a young soldier returning from war, travelling to meet the only family he has left, a family he has never met living in the capital city of Westfalin.  All he has known was a life on the road with the soldiers fighting in the bitter war against the Analousian - a war that cost Galen his mother, father, and younger sister.  His uncle Reiner reluctantly takes him in and employs him as a gardener in the palace, where Galen meets Princess Rose.  Princess Rose and her eleven sisters are the subject of much of the gossip in the town, as nearly every night they wear out a pair of dancing slippers, even though they are locked in their rooms under guard each night. 

Out of desperation, the King of Westfalin makes an offer - any prince who can discover the secret of the princesses and their dancing may have their choice of princess in marriage, and will rule the kingdom at her side.  It is a tempting prize, and several princes take up the offer, but no one can solve the mystery.  Finally, in desperation the king accepts Galens offer to try and solve the mystery, but no one expects an under gardener to succeed where princes have failed, but Galen has some secrets of his own that may just solve the mystery and save a kingdom in the process.

This is a retelling of the classic story of the twelve dancing princesses who are compelled to dance night after night in a fairytale realm, keeping the secret until a young man manages to follow them and breaks the spell.  This is a rich retelling of the story, adding layers of mystery and magic around what is originally a very simple story.  Galen is the centre of this story, a young man returned from a war older than his years, with a good heart who sees beyond the title of princess to see the "real" Rose and her sisters.  He has a fondness for them all that is sweet, yet also respectful of the fact that he is a commoner and they are royalty.  Rose is a strong character who tries to hold her family together while supporting the younger sisters who are struggling with the day-to-day realities of their curse. 

Their world is richly imagined and appears to be based on old Europe, with echoes of certain countries in their names.  This was not a fast read, and at times the pace is a little slow and overly descriptive and emotional, but it was a rewarding read.  Even though you know how this story will end to a certain extent, there are a few surprises along the way that keep things interesting and rewarding.  Retelling fairytales and making them more modern, or setting them in modern settings, is a recent trend and there are loads out there to try if you have enjoyed Princess of the midnight ball.

If you like this book then try:
  • Princess of glass by Jessica Day George
  • Cloaked in red by Vivian Vande Velde
  • The world above by Cameron Dokey
  • Violet eyes by Debbie Viguie
  • The crimson thread by Suzanne Weyn
  • Midnight pearls by Debbie Viguie
  • Crown duel by Sherwood Smith
  • The night dance by Suzanne Weyn
  • The storytellers daughter by Cameron Doeky
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Reviewed by Brilla

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