Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
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. (From Amazon)
I was not familiar with this particular fairy tale. So I quickly had to read a condensed version of it somewhere on the web. The book is fairly close to the fairy tale, with some changes to enhance the story. The changes do well for the story and fleshes it out so the characters have more life to them.
It’s odd but neat how Galen likes to knit so much – however there is an author’s note at the end which explains this a bit (and it’s quite interesting). Galen is your classic fairy tale hero, and an overall nice guy. I like his character and between his perspective and Rose, the novel is a nice read.
The twelve sisters are unique in their own way. It’s a little silly they’re named after flowers (but perhaps they were named like that in the fairy tale? not sure) but I suppose it’s so the reader can identify them more easily. They each have their own distinct personality which is also very useful in identifying them. Rose, the eldest, is a good character and well written. Although I liked Lily more. (She had a very sweet ending to her side of the story).
What I liked were the descriptions of the King Under Stone’s Realm. It was an eerie dark setting, yet beautiful in a way. It certainly had an ethereal sense to it. I liked the idea of the twelve dancing Princes, some did seem nice, while others didn’t. Everything had a very ‘cold beauty’ feeling to it, and I loved this setting. It really enhanced the fairy tale even more.
The plot itself was good. I enjoyed the way Galen tried to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Princesses’ worn out slippers. The magic and fantastical elements of the story were not over the top, I really enjoyed the use of different magic items and charms which help Galen in his quest. I also enjoyed the writing style and had a few moments where I was laughing to myself. It was overall, a lovely fairy tale read with, of course, a wonderful happy ending. (Actually, one of the best endings I have ever read).
It’s a beautiful retelling of a fairy tale, with wonderful descriptive settings, easy to identify characters, and great writing, it’s a great read. Even if you’re not into fairy tales, I still say pick this one up and enjoy.
I give it a 8 out of 10.