First of all, you have my permission to call me crazy. Why? Because in less than a week, I read two versions of the exact same fairy tale: The Twelve Dancing Princesses, or the Shoes that were Danced to Pieces. The first was this lovely novel, Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball:
And it was splendid. If my memory serves me right, there was not a single use of a cuss word or a substitute. Not even a “OMG”, either, which made me extremely happy. (Please let me know if I’m wrong.)
This one was closer to the original story than the second one I read, Heather Dixon’s Entwined. The hero was a soldier, there were 12 princes to dance with the princesses, etc.
But what really had me hooked was the fact that the princesses didn’t want to dance. They were forced to by the sinister King Under Stone, who wanted them to be wives for his twelve sons. That was probably the element I liked the most about the novel: arranged/forced marriages seem to make the best groundwork for novels (I’m quite fond of using betrothals for mine…. My BFF believes that I can’t write about anything else).
Anyway, the book’s heroine is Princess Rose, the eldest of twelve princesses all named after flowers. Their mother, who is dead, made a bargain with the King Under Stone because she was desperate for children, a male heir in particular. She had to dance once a month for a certain number of years. But every time she missed a night, she had to come more often. And when she died, it was her twelve daughters who had to dance.
The King, who is bewildered at the fact that brand new dancing slippers get worn out in under 24 hours, sends for different princes to come try to figure out the girls’ secret. They all fail. So Galen, a soldier-turned-gardener, who is acquainted with Princess Rose, decides to help. The King Under Stone finds out. And suddenly, Galen’s life is in danger, and each princess is about to marry a man they cannot stand.
Very, very good. A quick read- it took me less than 24 hours! Retellings of fairy tales are just wonderful. If you haven’t ever read one, find one and read it. It’s amazing how creative people can be.