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. (from Goodreads)
Like Inside Out, Princess of the Midnight Ball was one of those books where I was expecting great things from an author who I know does awesome books– but unfortunately, I was disappointed. Like Maria V. Snyder, Jessica Day George has amazing characters in her books. She also has a knack for turning conventional fairy tale stories into something REALLY INCREDIBLE. For instance, last month I read JDG’s Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. In that book she changed up the story enough to take it beyond merely “interesting.” She got rid of the annoying things, she made the main female character seriously wonderful (without going over the top), and she made the romance actually, y’know, romantic.
So I was really excited to read this one, which is based on the story The 12 Dancing Princesses. I don’t remember too much about the original tale, just the basic premise and the fabulous outfits the princess’ had in the illustrations of my childhood copy. I knew, too, that there were some skeezy things going on with the hero “winning” a princess and stuff, and so I was expecting JDG to do something cool and, like, change things up. But. She did not.
Things are slightly different, sure. The main romantic couple actually like each other and get to know one another before they get married, which is nice, and the thing with the faeries is way creepy. But I was expecting the princesses to actually…be active? To be honest, I was expecting them to be the ones to break out of their curse themselves, to not depend on a random dude to do it. The random dude is nice, sure, but I’m so used to JDG’s female characters being take-charge sort of people, and the princesses in this book spend most of it being sick, crying, lamenting their fate, and waiting for something to happen. It was kind of boring, actually.
The inactiveness of the princesses is really what bugs me the most about Princess of the Midnight Ball.12 Towards the end the eldest princess tries to do something, but it’s too little too late and just makes the rest of her time not doing anything look even worse.
There are other little things that threw me off this book, too, but this review is negative enough so I won’t go over them. Anyway, I think maybe if I hadn’t been expecting Princess of the Midnight Ball to be something it isn’t, I might have enjoyed reading it more. It’s not a terrible book, but it’s not my favorite Jessica Day George book, either.
Read: November 23-29, 2011