I am a fan of fairy tales and the revamping of them with new and interesting ideas. This book is a new look on the 12 dancing princesses, set in a world where magick used to be all around but now only lingering pieces are left.
A Brief Summary:
Azalea is the eldest of the daughter of twelve, a princess of a kingdom that has fallen from its former glory and although is still important has less financial power behind it. The princess’s mother is a lover of dance and quite proficient at it, one of the best in the kingdom. She has taught all of her daughters many styles of dances, it is one of their most enjoyable pastimes. The all the daughters dancing is not only something cherished because it was taught by their mother, but it is apart of their core being. Though they are royalty, their lives are not posh. The castle, long ago full of magick and a wicked mad King, as fallen into a dismal state, the balls are few and luxuries even fewer. Even so, they find little bits of joy when they can with each other.
When tragedy strikes the girls to be forbidden from dancing for an entire year, which stifles their very soul. With so little to look forward to, this is the last straw on all of their already shaken nerves. Just when things seem hopeless though, a secret passage is discovered. One of the few remaining pockets of magick in the castle leads them to a hidden forest somehow housed just behind their fireplace. A gorgeous pavilion is set as if just for them, watched over by the mysterious and handsome Keeper. He allows them to dance to their hearts content, lifting the spirits of each girl. However, such a beautiful gift never comes without a price.
I really enjoyed this book, it was simple but still engaging enough to keep me reading. It was a little confusing to keep track of all the names and ages of the princesses, however the main ones were easy enough. Azalea, being the oldest, had the most responsibility on her shoulders. Next in line to be Queen, a suitor to be found, and keeping her younger sisters safe and happy. Each girl wonderfully had their own personality and traits. Clover, the shy quiet one. Bramble, fiery and a snapping temper. Delphinium who adored romances and was theatrical herself. Little things like this make each girl her own, and not too swallowed up with each other. It was kind of fun as well that each were named, not only after a plant, but alphabetically. The reasoning being the King liked order, and this was an orderly way to name children-I guess.
Other engaging characters is the mysterious Keeper, dressed in sleek black, moving without a sound, granting the girls their one wish. He is frightful yet entertaining, magickal and new. The girls never seem to quite know what to think of him, and Azalea’s reaction to him is the strongest, again being the oldest. I figured out his back story and devious ways pretty early on. Even so, I really enjoyed how his character came out through each pavilion dance session.
The King was a distant yet still complicated character, trying to balance being royal and being a father (to twelve daughters, imagine!). His relationship is on rough seas with the girls, and both parties must learn how to deal with one another after the horrible event that took place.
The romance was a little cheesy, but it was to be expected. After all, this is a fairy tail! I still liked it though, even if the main romantic interest was a little generic, it meshed with with the simplicity of the book all together.
I like how it shows a bit of the magick world that everyone hears in fairy tales, but it is something of the past here for they are moving into more modern times. The twelve dancing princesses is not a story often retold, or at least not that I have seen. The original story was violent and you didn’t feel sorry for the princesses who (spoiler) had many young men killed by not wanting to give up their dancing. This rendition gives an interesting back story the the princesses and you actually feel sorry for them and understand their need to dance.
I would suggest this for young adult readers or someone who enjoys fairy tales. It is easy enough to pick up and put down, and though not incredibly long it is still a very relaxing and fun read.