Princess of the Midnight Ball is a re-telling of the fairy tale "The 12 Dancing Princesses," which isn't as familiar a fairy tale with Americans as, say, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. I suppose Disney never found a way to include animal companions or a musical sequence. Or, perhaps there are just too many characters -- I mean, twelve princesses??
Jessica Day George's version is interesting in that the princesses are forced to dance the night away in the magical kingdom because of a promise made to the ruler by their mother. (in the original, they love going and dream about it all day long) The soldier in the original story is still a soldier, coming home from the war, and he begins work in the king's garden.
From a literature standpoint, Jessica Day George's plotting is strong. Solid. It is never surprising, but it does lead you along quite happily, and twists a few of the old story's elements for a mildly pleasing experience.
But it was missing the spark.
When a book really comes to life, you know it. You hold it close to you as you read, rushing through the pages, living and breathing alongside the characters. The book has a soul, a spark of light that draws you in and keeps you thinking about it after you've read it.
Sadly, Princess of the Midnight Ball disappointed me in that aspect. It was a perfect book -- well written, characters who stayed true to themselves with a balanced storyline. But it was missing that vital element that makes the story come alive for the reader.
We never feel for the characters -- even with the love story angle, the family angle, or the war angle. It's dry.
Which was more disappointing because everything else was so perfect.