Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Novelizations or retellings of fairy tales have been all the rage for quite some time now. The first one I remember reading was Robin McKinley’s Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, first published in 1978. Of course, Disney’s been in the business of retelling fairy tales as movies for a long time, since I don’t know if Ms. McKinley’s success with Beautyinspired other authors to retell other fairy tales or or if Disney made authors want to do a better job of retelling these old tales if there was some other impetus to the trend (maybe the general Tolkien/Lewis inspired fascination with fantasy?), but each year brings more and more fairy tale engendered novels for children and young adults.

Princess of the Midnight Ball is a retelling of Grimm’s story The Twelve Dancing Princesses. It’s pretty much a straight retelling or the original except for one significant change in motivation: the princesses in Ms. George’s story are forced to dance away the night against their wills as a result of a bargain made by their mother with King Under Stone.

Looking on Wikipedia, I see that Ms. George is not the only author to have re-told this particular tale. There’s a movie version: Barbie in The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
Catholic author Regina Doman, whom I’ve heard of but never read, has a version called The Midnight Dancers, published last year, and it sounds interesting: “the twelve princesses are twelve girls in a blended family with a strict Christian fundamentalist father. The oldest girl, Rachel, discovers a secret door that leads them out of their Chesapeake Bay home, and the girls begin having rendezvous with guys from their church. Their secret is discovered by a young ex-soldier just back from the Middle East, Paul Fester, who concocts a plan to try to restore trust between the jaded girls and their frustrated father.”

“Suzanne Weyn’s novel The Night Dance retells the story, intertwining it with Arthurian legend.”

Juliet Marillier’s novel Wildwood Dancing gives a retelling set in Bulgaria, mixed with traditional Bulgarian folk tales.

Oddest of all, apparently, Jeanette WInterston’s Sexing the Cherry, which I’ve heard of but never had any desire to read, also incorporates the fairy tale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses into a a postmodern magical realism novel that features a grotesque mother, known as The Dog Woman and her protege Jordan journeying in a space-time flux in search of fruit?

That last one sounds even stranger than the story of twelve princesses who wear out their dancing shoes each night.

Some of our favorite fairy tale novelizations:

From Beauty and the Beast:
The afore-mentioned Beauty by Robin McKinley.
Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley. A different version of Beauty and the Beast.
Beast by Donna Jo Napoli.

The Sleeping Beauty
Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley.
Enchantment by Orson Scott Card. Semicolon review here.
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.
Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley. Brown Bear Daughter’s review.
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Other Folk Tales Ride Again
A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth Bunce. (Rumpelstiltskin) Semicolon review here.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. Semicolon review here.
Zel by Donna Jo Napoli. (Rapunzel)

Oh, and by the way, if you find yourself inside a fairy tale, Neil Gaiman has some instructions for you. Neil Gaiman reads his poem: Instructions.

3 thoughts on “Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

  1. Another great Cinderella is The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry.

  2. I LOVE fairy tales and their re-tellings. Out of all the books you’ve mentioned above I’ve read only ‘A Curse Dark As Gold’. I am going to look into the other books you’ve mentioned.

  3. Zoe

    The 12 Dancing Princesses is perhaps my favourite favourite tale so I’ll have to look out for this book. Thanks for sharing it at today’s dance themed round up.

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