My second retelling was Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball. Full confession time: I had previously read this book, along with the sequel, Princess of Glass. I am a fan of Jessica Day George’s books – they straddle the line of middle grade and young adult quite nicely, in my opinion.
Anyway. Princess of the Midnight Ball is far superior to the first retelling. It is a straight retelling, doesn’t attempt to incorporate elements of other legends or fairy tales, and is the better for it. The twelve princesses in this retelling are all named after flowers: the eldest, Rose, is the most complex. This is a rather odd coincidence, because the princesses in the third retelling – Entwined – are also all named after flowers. However, that is just an aside.
One of the difficulties of a book with TWELVE dancing princesses is that it is difficult to develop twelve distinctly different characters. All of the books essentially chose two or three of the princesses and really focused on them. In this retelling, Rose was the focus of the books, along with her sister, Lily. The middle princesses rather blended together, and the younger princesses were noteworthy mostly for their need to be taken care of by the older girls.
The story is set in the imaginary kingdom of Westfalin, and concerns the long-suffering King Gregor and his twelve daughters who disappear each night to dance for the King Under Stone. The story itself maintained the “supernatural opponents” aspect of the original tale as the main conflict. In this retelling, the princesses do not dance by choice, but because they have been essentially enslaved by their well-intentioned but deceived mother. The main hero, Galen, is a returning soldier. Knitting also plays a rather large part in the tale itself, and the book includes some knitting patterns. Manly or not, our hero, is the knitter. The romance between Rose and Galen develops sweetly and convincingly, and is lovely and age-appropriate. I would not hesitate to allow any fairy-tale loving young reader to read this book.
There is now a third book in the series – Princess of the Silver Woods – which takes place 10 years after the original story, and which presents the youngest princess, Petunia, as the heroine. According to the book description, this one takes elements from Little Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood. It looks like a lot of fun. The cover is just beautiful as well.