Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

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.

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