I can't remember how I found Bookshop Talk, but I've found some good book recommendations there. They have a really good variety of books reviewed, and most of the time I have never heard of them. One review I read was for Princess of the Midnight Ball, and Jessica Day George is one of the hosts of the website. So I was curious, and ready for something quick and easy after The Winter Sea and Jane Eyre.
I enjoyed this book! It is a re-telling of the Grimm fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. All I know about the story I learned from the Barbie movie that my daughter has checked out from the library a few times. So I don't know how much is fairytale and how much is the author's imagination. Either way I think this was a fun, simple story. It is written for upper elementary grades, so there isn't a lot of character development, and many of them are stereotypes. But that's what I expect in a fairytale.
Galen is the hero of the book. He has just fought in a war and lost his whole family. He travels to a relative's house where he is employed to work as an undergardener at the palace. The princesses mysteriously wear out their dancing shoes during the night, but can't tell anyone why. As a reader, we are slowly let in on the curse that binds them. I like how it is revealed a bit at a time.
I like Galen's character. He adapts quickly to his new situation and does his best to help others. "Here, though, was an intriguing new word. A world of thinning, mulching, bandaging, grafting, and pruning--it was like building fortifications against an enemy invader."
I liked Jessica Day George's writing style, "She held the flowers to her stuffy nose and tried to breathe in some of the scent. Only the faintest trickle of the flowers' perfume came through, so she gently stroked her cheek with the soft petals instead, savoring the exquisite feeling."
If you like fairytales, I would recommend this book. I think my daughter will love it in a couple of years.