George, Jessica Day. Princess of the Midnight Ball.
Bloomsbury see St. Martins 2009 276p 16.99 978-1-59990-322-4 ms/hs
A retelling of the tale of twelve princesses who wear out their shoes dancing every night, and of Galen, a former soldier now working in the king's gardens, follows them in hopes of breaking the curse. In this retelling of the Grim classic fairy tale, King Gregor is concerned about his twelve daughters. The girls wear out dancing shoes at a furious pace but they cannot tell him how or why but it is obvious that they are unhappy to be dancing. Visiting princes who come to solve the mystery and win the hand of a princess in marriage meet untimely deaths. This state of affairs attracts the attention of the religious authorities who are convinced the princesses are using witchcraft and are directly responsible for the deaths. It also attracts the attention of Galen Werner, a former soldier working as a gardener in the royal palace. Galen is in love with Rose, the eldest of the twelve dancing princesses, and when it is obvious that there is no one who can aid the king or the princesses, Galen convinces the king to give him permission to solve the mystery. Galen also has a few tricks up his sleeve thanks to an invisible cloak, magic herbs and silver knitting needles, which he will need to use to defeat the evil forces that have a hold over the princesses. Although readers can surmise that Galen and his weapons will triumph, this knowledge does not diminish the enjoyment of seeing how Galen frees the princesses from their unwanted contract which they inherited from their mother. As a character, Galen almost seems too good to be true, but when one needs to defeat the forces of evil, it would be impossible to be otherwise. Rose, rather than wait to be rescued, shows much ingenuity and backbone, particularly when she joins forces with Galen. Her sisters likewise refuse to sit idly by. Much time is spent establishing the plot and character development, but once this is done the pace of the plot proceeds quickly. Everyone lives happily ever after in this enjoyable version of a classic fairy tale. RZ