Princess of the Midnight BallTitle: Princess of the Midnight Ball
Author: Jessica Day George
ISBN: 9781599903224
Pages: 280 pages
Publisher/Date: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, c2009.

Why shouldn’t she appear tired? She had eleven younger sisters all looking to her for guidance. She had taken her mother’s place as the designated hostess for all social functions at the palace, and there had been a great many lately in the wake of the victory of Analousia. Just now there were three different foreign ambassadors at the palace, being wined and dined and hopefully signing lucrative trade agreements.
And almost every night there was the dancing.
There was always dancing after state dinners, and as the crown princess she was never “humiliated” by having to sit out a dance without a partner. King Gregor believed that an excess of revelry was unwholesome, however, so the dancing always ended promptly at eleven o’clock.
Which gave the twelve sisters just enough time to freshen up before they attended the Midnight Ball.(38)

Rose and her eleven younger sisters are cursed, and are not allowed to tell anyone about it. But every morning, the household discovers the girls tired from their nightly activities and all their dancing shoes worn out. The kingdom fears that the girls are cursed, especially after they all take ill and strange men come out of their mother’s garden. After several princes fail to determine where the girls go, Galen the gardner’s nephew vows to solve the mystery. In this reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, Jessica Day George weaves mystery and love into Princess of the Midnight Ball.

Jessica Day George has definitely been honing her talents. I read her Dragon Slippers several weeks ago (and I just realized that I didn’t blog it here… OPPS! That will be very quickly remedied) and I liked this story so much more. While she’s still very influenced by other work that she has read and admired, I wish she could test out her own ideas for stories, because she is a very talented writer. She stays true to what most people who are familiar with the story line have heard. 12 princesses leave their sleeping, spell struck attendants in their bedchambers and are cursed to dance for the evil king/sorcerer/etc. They are saved, in this case by the gardner’s nephew who is aided by a invisible cloak.

Day George however adds something to the myth. We learn more about not only the princesses, but the gardner as well. They develop identities of their own right, which is why I like her writing. The princesses are given names, talents, and personalities. And so too is the gardener, Galen, who readers can tell has been effected by the war he has just come home from. Even the townspeople and the Bishop, who get involved when a Salem-esque witch trial ensues, are no longer stock fairy tale characters.

I can’t leave this without exclaiming over the cover, which I think looks GORGEOUS and works really well. The light and dark create almost an evervescant halo around the young lady on the cover, and is quite striking. I know it caught my attention almost immediately.

While still relatively new to the scene, I look forward to reading more of her work. And I’m sure teenage girls who are fantasy nuts (like myself) will eat her up.