Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above.
Captivating from start to finish, Jessica Day George’s take on the Grimms’ tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses demonstrates yet again her mastery at spinning something entirely fresh out of a story you thought you knew. Description from Goodreads.
The book begins with Galen searching for his only living relative, an aunt. He has finished serving as a soldier in a war. He is traveling toward the capital city when he comes across an old lady and shows her kindness. She gives him an invisibility cloak and yarn. Puzzled, he continues on his quest seeking his aunt.
He comes to the city and finds his relatives. His uncle is the gardener for the king. He reluctantly takes Galen on as an undergardener. This puts Galen in a position to meet and become friends with the Princesses. (Galen's first meeting with the Princess Rose is rather comical.) This puts Galen in a prime position to investigate the strange occurrence of the 12 princesses who wear out their slippers every third night.
I do not remember reading a retelling with the Princesses living under a curse. I think this element was added by Jessica Day George. It really worked. It explained why the Princesses would go every night to an underground realm and dance with twelve Princes. My heart went out to the Princesses. They did not want to go dancing, in fact they hated dancing.
Galen is a very likeable hero. You can't help but like him and see why Rose fell for him. He is kind and considerate and has only the welfare of the Princesses as his focus. Well, he does have feelings for Rose, but that is not his sole motivation. Galen made the story interesting. The Princesses although a focus, in my opinion were more secondary characters.
I enjoyed this retelling. I thought about giving it five stars, but something was missing for me. I'm not sure what it was. I do know that I enjoyed my time reading it. This book is classified as YA, but is appropriate for all ages.
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