Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review: Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

I totally have a weakness for fairy tale re-tellings. I can't tell you how many take offs of Cinderella I've read, and Wicked is a perennial favorite for me. When I saw there was a new take on The Twelve Dancing Princesses I was intrigued - I don't think I've ever seen a re-telling of this one. I loved this story as a kid - I had a book of Care Bear bedtime stories and remember this one with lush watercolor illustrations prominently (no, the Care Bears weren't the princesses - the book had lots of traditional bedtime stories and then a few small Care Bear bits. I don't think Care Bears had enough girl characters to populate this particular story!).

However, Princess of the Midnight Ball left me vaguely disappointed. About 90% of the story doesn't feel like a re-telling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but rather just expanding upon the basic facts of the story. For me there's a difference between fleshing out characters and creating epic new backstories (I'm thinking of something like Ella Enchanted that completely re-imagined why Cinderella had to be so darn obedient to her family) and simply giving archetypal characters names and dialogue, as Princess of the Midnight Ball seems to. There's no clever twist here, nothing to keep you guessing - you know exactly what is going to happen on every page, turning this more into a long-form fairy tale than an exciting re-telling.


Anna Rhoswen said...

Mrs. Rutan snatched this book out of the hands of the BBYA kids last week, so I should get to hear her review today. When I asked about it, Mrs. Dobrez gave me Juliet Marillier's "Wildwood Dancing" and "Cybele's Gift".

The first is a re-telling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and it was fan-frickin'-tastic. I loved it. It's definitely on the list of books I want to own to reread for, y'know, the rest of my life. It's an absolute retelling, with five girls instead of twelve, and it throws in a bit of the frog prince tale just for kicks and giggles.

The second takes the characters from the first and continues the story. I'm not sure it's a retelling of any fables, but it was also very good. There was a lot of focus on how women were treated by different cultures-the girls are from somewhat Medieval Transylvania and one of them is in same-period Istanbul for the second book.

So... yes. Read those! :D

(Also, at what point in time can we start calling our favorite librarians by their first names? Are we old enough for that yet??????)

Angela said...

Definitely tell me what she thought (or tell her that I posted about and she can drop by herself, lol. I'm such a blog whore...)! Also, I'm totally jealous that you guys are getting hot fudge sundaes.

I will definitely add those two to my library list. If my library has them. I swear, for being the "number 1 library system by circulation" in the US, they're missing a lot of books.

I sometimes call them Lynn and Cindy, but usually revert back to Mrs. Dobrez and Mrs. Rutan. When I was interviewed for the GR Press profile on Mrs. Dobrez I kept going back and forth on her name. And I swear I nearly sent wedding invitations addressed to them as Mrs. Dobrez and Mrs. Rutan, lol. We may be old enough (I think Mrs. Dobrez told me to call her Cindy back when I was interning at the library), but they will always be my school librarians to me!

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