Monday, December 31, 2012

Review: Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George


Review: Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
Rating: A sweet and easy fairy tale read with gorgeous imagery and a lovely romance.



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.


What I liked about this book was that it was actually quite loyal to the original fairy tale. It was less an interpretation of the tale than an expansion of it, deepening every character and the world around them. The princesses are given names and personalities (though not too much-- I actually favored the lighter characterization in this book, as it contributes to the fairy tale feel), as is Galen, the hero. 

Nineteen-year-old Galen has just returned from a long and brutal war between his country of Westfalin and the country of Analousia. Each country Jessica Day George mentions is a slight fantasy version of a real place. If you're familiar with European geography, you'll recognize which regions the author is vaguely referencing; if you don't, that's perfectly all right. I just enjoyed those little nods, almost like inside jokes. Plus, they helped me visualize the world of Ionia, which is already a rich, visual place.

The magic of this book felt original while still managing to reflect classic fairy tales. The realm of the King Under Stone is delightfully creepy, though not so horrible you'll have nightmares, or anything. Essentially, the twelve princess-- all of them from seventeen-year-old Rose to six-year-old Petunia-- are cursed to dance below every third night, even when deathly ill. They wear out both their shoes and their health, and soon, the curse begins to take its toll on Westfalin's political future as well.

That's where handsome cutie pie Galen comes in. He's determined to rescue the princesses, and he just may be the only man with the tools to do it. He and Princess Rose have a bit of the insta-love, but what would a fairy tale be without a bit of the insta-love? Their romance is very sweet and natural. Galen is a worthy hero (who KNITS!) and Rose is a strong girl with a lot of love for her sisters.

I would recommend this to anyone who adores fairy tales and likes their reads absolutely squeaky clean. I think this would also be a pretty good starter book for those who think they want to get into reading fairy tale adaptations, but aren't sure if they'll like it. All in all, I really loved this book. Not completely perfect, but such a sweet delight to read. It was fast and fun and very well-written.

9 comments:

  1. I was reading this review and thinking "Hm yes, this sounds cute. Maybe a bit boring though, possibly not my thing, maybe one day I'll get to this eventually. Possibly." And then this happened: "Galen is a worthy hero (who KNITS!)"
    and I died.
    That is the cutest thing ever why haven't I read this yet.
    Why don't I know any guys who knit.
    I must teach them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a little "boring", in that it's a sweet, rather straightforward fairy tale, but it was just what I wanted at the right time.

      And knitting. All boys should knit. Teach them, and you will be doing the world a great service.

      Delete
  2. I've read this before, but barely remember it. But your review was so well-written, it makes me want to read it again. Great post, Gillian :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's cute and straightforward fairy tale fare. Not entirely memorable, but I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for your compliments!

      Delete
  3. I've had this on my to-read list forever now. I LOVE fairytales, but I'm nearly always disappointed with how they turn out. I'm looking forward to reading this one, though. I'm not a huge fan of interpretations--they feel too contrived--so this one being an expansion makes me less hesitant.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've never heard of this book before and would probably pass it by if I were to see it in a store. This typically isn't my thing but I might give it a try because I do want to start reading fairy tale adaptions. I'm hoping I'll get into this type of book because I want to go into this sub genre in a positive way. Thanks for the great post.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm a fans of HR too, looking forward to read this one :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I adore fairy tales! I really do. And I have heard so many wonderful things about this book. I think it might just be a book that I need to read. Thanks for the wonderful review. I keep meaning to order this one, and then forgetting. I am glad that I have the reminder, again! I am writing it down!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love a good fairy tale! And the cover of this is just beautiful :) Enjoyed your review! Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete

Note: comments on posts older than 90 days are automatically moderated, so they won't show up here immediately. Thanks for commenting! :)