When I was growing up Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Brothers Grimm was my favorite fairy tale. When I came across this adaptation, I knew I had to read it. I was not disappointed by how well the author adhered to the original tale, but was also able to make it fresh and uniquely her own.
Twelve Dancing Princesses is the tale of twelve princesses (go figure) who live in a castle with their father. Each night he locks them in their room. Every morning he unlocks the door and finds twelve pairs of dancing shoes that have been danced to pieces. The king is baffled by these events and wants to solve the mystery of how his daughters dance new shoes to pieces every night. Therefore, he issues a challenge – Any man who can solve the mystery will be given land, a title, and have his choice of the twelve princesses for a wife. The men have three nights to solve the mystery or their life is forfeit. Men come and men go, but the princesses continue to dance away until one man solves the mystery.
The author decided to adapt the story so that the princesses were in exile from the king’s harem because of his wife’s jealousy. Also, she focused on one man and one princess. From these two points of view she weaves the tale. I find it was much more emotional and much easier to connect with the story, particularly as an adult. There are some areas which are not suitable for children (sexy passage near the end) but the majority of the book is well written and clean.
The characters she chose to focus on in the story are extremely well developed. I think she could have expanded more on the other princesses, you only really get a feel for a couple of them, and increase interaction with the Queen’s cousin, who is guarding the princesses. She also gave a great story line to the princes the princesses went off to see each night. I think she took the essence of the story, all of the key points, and held true to them while also honoring them and enhancing them with the deeper, more complex story line. I think in the end I actually enjoyed this more than the original as it was so much more complex and emotional it drew me in more than the the original fairy tale ever did.
I think if anyone mildly liked Twelve Dancing Princesses when they were younger, this is a definite must read. It is so interesting as to keep your attention. It is also a widely enjoyable fantasy read, as well as a historical romance. I’d recommend it to anyone that likes romance, historical fiction, historical romance, or magical romance.