Happy weekend, everyone! We are having a blast with my sister in town for the weekend. We are showing her all our favorite Dallas places and eating about 5 meals a day😉
Today I am here with a review of Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. This book was recommended to me by my sister-in-law. I have been meaning to read it for a month now so I bumped it up on my TBR and finished it last week.
This novel is a retelling of the 12 dancing princesses fairy tale. That story has always been one of my favorites so I was excited to experience it with a new twist. What is it about fairy tale retellings that makes them so magical to read? I love them!
- This book is an easy read. In fact, it’s shelved in the juvenile fiction at my library. I think it would be a great book for girls from about age 10. It does have an evil and violent villain so be aware of that for kids. While it may be geared for a younger audience, this book can be enjoyed by anyone, especially fairy tale lovers.
- George’s style reminds me of Shannon Hale and Kate DiCamillo–two of my favorite storytellers.The story is fun, exciting, and simple.
- I want to read more retellings of the 12 dancing princesses now. Any suggestions?
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George retells the story of the 12 dancing princesses. It begins with the end of a war and a young retired soldier named Galen comes to work in the palace gardens. Rumors abound about the princesses who wear out their dancing shoes every third night but won’t say where they go. Galen meets the oldest princess, Rose, in the garden when she falls into a fountain, and he begins to fall in love with her from that moment. The king decides to invite eligible princes to the castle to discover the princesses secret. But no one can stay awake to follow them and all the princes die soon after leaving. Meanwhile, the princesses begin dancing every night but they cannot speak of their curse to anyone. With the kingdom at the brink of civil war, Galen offers to help the princesses. With the assistance of a wizard, an old woman, and an invisibility cloak, he seeks to free the princess from their curse and end the power of the evil King Under Stone.
Galen has courage, heart, and wisdom; I immediately like him. He wants to solve the mystery of the sisters dancing because he wants to help them–not for the reward. He is also humble and respectful which I think are both noble characteristics. The ways he follows the sisters and works to free them are clever and fun. I was glad to see him find happiness and family at the end of the novel.
I really enjoyed the different personalities of the princesses. Each is named after a particular flower (Rose, Lily, Jonquil, Hyacinth, Violet, Daisy, Poppy, Iris, Lilac, Orchid, Pansy, and Petunia) which I thought was quite clever. They all enjoy different things–music, walking, praying, dressing up, and reading. I was impressed with the ways that George created the interactions between the princesses without getting them all confused. There are a lot of main characters! And because of that, some are less developed. However, I recently learned there are two more books in the series that focus on different sisters so hopefully that allows for more character development.
In this story, we get to know Rose quite well. She is intelligent, brave, and strong. She wants to protect those she loves–even if she is a bit clumsy to fall headfirst into a fountain ;) I enjoyed reading about her growing relationship with Galen and how she noticed him at the Midnight Ball. If this novel was written for adults, I think we would have gotten even more character development in Rose. We would have learned more about her past and more complexities in her present.
The storytelling was both a strength and a weakness of this novel. On the one hand, I enjoyed the added complexity to the original fairy tale and the plot driven prose was exciting to read (and quick too). On the other hand, there were details that were not entirely explained like why Galen knit a chain for the gate or more details about cousin Heinrich’s experiences in the war. I would have liked more details and the book isn’t too long so it could have been extended to include them. I would have liked to learn more about the kingdoms in the story and some of their interactions. Overall, though, the storytelling and setting are charming and enjoyable.
I recommend this book if you are looking for a light, clever story that you can finish in only a few days. It does not have the depth or intensity of other fantasy novels or romances. But I don’t think it is supposed to. The story is artful and true to the original fairy tale. The characters are likable and noble. And the ending is happily ever after. Overall, an enjoyable read. I definitely want to read more by Jessica Day George in future.
What Jessica Day George books do you recommend?
And any 12 dancing princesses retellings you recommend?