Saturday, February 20, 2010

Princess of the Midnight Ball, by Jessica Day George, reviewed by Miss Ami

Our newest reader is establishing herself as a bit of a high maintenance babe. Due to a bout with RSV and a hospital stay, we had another, unintentional hiatus there, but we are back now! For real! For a long time! Are you listening, little miss thing???

One good thing about a long stay in a hospital with NO internet access and a mostly sleeping child, is plenty of forced reading time. We mostly brought YA with us, so we will spend the next few days reviewing those, beginning with:

I am partial to fractured fairy tales, and loved the cover - the kind of dress you love to look at and might want to own, but are very happy you don't actually have to wear. This book got some mixed reviews, mostly from people who had issues with the premise. It's a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, and attempts to explain my old question of just WHY these girls would go out dancing every night, but then be perfectly happy to have that come to a sudden end.

In George's version, the girls are under a curse, passed on from their mother. They must dance each night for the Kiing Under Stone, until the end of the time period agreed on by their mother, who died before fulfilling her contract. The King wants tthem as brides for his twelve sons, although it is never explained how he plans to force that to happen.

I can see where people had issues with parts of the plot. was their mother really as dumb as she appeared? I mean come on, fool me once shame on you, fool me twelve times...?! And if she's dancing for the king every night, when the heck did she get pregnant? How come the king got to change the contract each time? Why did it pass on to the girls? Since there are twelve of them, wouldn't they get the time done twelve times as fast? What was the point of the Heinrich story? Why did the girls' father keep buying them new slippers? As a mom of three growing boys, that one really bugged me. Why is this just now an issue if they have been dancing for five years? And then there is the convenient part of the curse that prevents them from uttering a word about it. Ever hear of charades? Letting people guess?

Having said all that, I truly did enjoy the story. It is well written, and I liked the characters. i enjoyed the soldier/gardener twist on the old tale. A little suspension of disbelief is a helpful start to any fairy tale, so the things I mentioned really didn't bother me all that much. Not as good as Dragon Slippers, but I would still recommend it to a reader or for a library shelf.

Review copy checked out from the local library, where it can be found under "YA F Geor".

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