Monday, June 27, 2011

Princess of the Midnight Ball

Princess Rose and her sisters Lily, Jonquil, Hyacinth, Violet, Daisy, Poppy, Iris, Lilac, Orchid, Pansy, and Petunia are trapped in a curse. Every third night, they have to dance at the Midnight Ball with the twelve sons of the King Under Stone, who lives in a realm below the earth. To get there, they descend a staircase hidden beneath a carpet in their room, walk through a silver and pearl gate and a forest of silver trees, and ride golden boats across a lake of shadows. They have tried to tell others of their secret, but the curse prevents them from speaking of it.
Galen Werner is a soldier who is returning from the Westfalin-Analousia war. On his way to the city of Bruch to live with his mother's sister Liesel Orm, Galen meets an old woman. After he shares his food with her, the woman gives him white and black yarn and an invisibility cloak, saying that he would have to use them when "He" tries to get to the surface.
When Galen meets Rose, she knows that he can try to break the curse, but will he succeed despite the complications they come across? -Plot summary borrowed from Amazon

In my review of Ash, I suggested some readalikes for that Cinderella re-telling, namely Wildwood Dancing and this offering by Jessica Day George. Like Wildwood, this is a re-imagining of the Brothers Grimms' "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." In fact, that is what originally drew me to this title.

Galen is a likable protagonist (although really, it's hard not to root for a hero who knits!), and I enjoyed getting the story from his perspective as well as Rose's. As a re-telling it was quite good, retaining most of the original details while fleshing out the setting and characters with interesting details. If the portal in Wildwood Dancing led to the glittering, enchanting realm of fae reminiscent of the Seelie court, the princesses in this version are definitely compelled (cursed, really) to visit the cruel Unseelie court night after night.

I thought this book was much better written than George's Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. The characters were better developed, the world was much more believable, and I couldn't wait to see how/if Galen would solve the mystery of the worn out dancing slippers!


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