Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book review: Princess of the Midnight Ball, Jessica Day George

An expansion of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses" fairy tale, with some license taken for modern sensibilities. The princesses are not misbehaving in this version, and have no evil intent, nor are they helpless. It's a Young Adult book, and so the storyline includes some scenes of violence, but glosses over the realism. Likewise there's a subplot about religion vs. nationalism that was only touched on.

Set in a fictionalized version of Renaissance Europe, twelve young princesses confound their father by each wearing out a pair of dancing shoes every three days. Princes from around the region try to discover the girls' secret, and go away disappointed.

The story is well-written and largely faithful to the original. While the protagonists are clearly Rose, the eldest princess and Galen, the young soldier-turned-gardener, the other princesses and lesser characters are given some attention and personality. The story gets a little scattergun during the climax, but the ending doesn't disappoint. All in all, it's a pleasant and quick read that held my attention.

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