Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge sucker for fairytale/myth retellings. Someone online mentioned wanting to read a good version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses a couple of months ago, and to my surprise I stumbled across one.
Jessica Day George’s novel Princess of the Midnight Ball has to be the best retelling of this story I’ve ever encountered. Of course, it is from Bloomsbury so there’s little surprise about the quality of their fantasy books. I am usually not easily impressed by books, and I hadn’t planned on reading it until I accidentally glanced at the first page and was hooked in.
The story follows Galen, a young man who returns from war to work at the palace gardens where the princesses mysteriously have their shoes worn away night after night. The plot thickens when Galen finds himself enchanted by the eldest sister Rose and he becomes determined to discover their secret. George uses all of the stereotypical fairytale cliches like the invisible cloak, the evil magician, damsels in distress and the like, but she also creates a very realistic and fantastic world for them to play in. The novel does jump the borders between mundane and epic at different points. I would have preferred a little more emotion from the characters and for them to be a little more fleshy, but otherwise, it was a definitely worthwhile read.
The pacing was well done. So often I’ve read novels with the reveals being dragged out, but this story opens itself up. Rose and Galen are sharp and tragically woven characters though bland at times. The great problem of The Twelve Dancing Princesses is that there is a large balancing act with so many characters. I know because as a teen I’d write far too many characters and a simple scene can get complicated when you have to count if you’ve left someone out of too many conversations. Overall, I have to say I enjoyed the ride.