Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Princess of the Midnight Ball
by Jessica Day George

ISBN-13: 9-781599-904559
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!

As the crown princess, Rose is never without a dance partner. She and her eleven sisters are treated to beautiful gowns, slippers, and dances at party after party in their father’s palace. But their evenings do not end when the guests return home. Instead, Rose and her sisters must travel deep into the earth to the wicked King Under Stone’s palace. There, the girls are cursed to dance each night, even when they grow exhausted or ill.

Many princes have tried – and failed – to break the spell. But then Rose meets Galen, a young soldier-turned-gardener with an eye for adventure. Together they begin to unravel the mystery. To banish the curse, they’ll need an invisibility cloak, enchanted silver knitting needles, and, of course, true love.

Princess of the Midnight Ball is a fantastic retelling of the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Cursed to dance at night for the King Under Stone, Rose and her sisters despair of ever breaking the curse. Soon their country is thrown into turmoil and cries of witchcraft when the plight of the princesses becomes known. Only Galen, a soldier recently returned home and working in the palace gardens, has the strength of will – and heart – to discover a way to save the twelve sisters from their fate.

I adore Galen. He’s such a nice boy! He has known only war; being born to a career soldier and his wife, Galen has been on the front lines from an extremely young age. An orphan, he travels to the capitol city in order to find the rest of his mother’s family. Once there, he takes a position helping his uncle in the palace gardens. Galen is extremely polite, loyal and hard working. He respects his aunt and uncle, and doesn’t disregard the youngest princesses just because of their age. He always tries to cheer them up and keep them (all) safe. The twelve princesses are named after flowers. It’s a little confusing keeping them straight all the time (besides the oldest and the youngest ones), but Rose is the main princess to know. Rose is the oldest, and deeply cares for her siblings. She’s very refined and poised, and has a protective streak a mile wide. She would do anything to keep her sisters safe (and she does). Rose can keep her head in a tough situation and has strength to spare.

The flow of the action and storyline was done very well. I was never bored, but neither was I overwhelmed with information and activity. The mysteries of the plot begin to build right away with the Queen visiting the King Under Stone and when Galen meets a strange woman on the side of the road. Add in the fact that the princesses are cursed to never speak of their plight to anyone. The reader receives more information than the characters, so it’s not quite a mystery. Instead you find yourself wishing that Galen could hear you and just see what’s in front of his face (obvious details to us, but not to him). The idea isn’t so much to find out what’s wrong with the princesses, but how Galen is going to save them from dancing every night. Right up until the end you can’t be sure if he will succeed or not, and the last few action scenes are wicked.

Even though it’s based on a fairy tale, Princess of the Midnight Ball is set in a time period that seems to be a mash-up of a real time and place. The countries resemble Germany, Belgium, Rome etc., and it is close to the start of the inquisition – the witch hunts that swept through Europe. The story had that traditional fairy tale feel to it, but the setting made it just a little bit more familiar. Princess of the Midnight Ball is a masterful adventure full of magic, love and chivalry, proving that even the worst events can lead to happy endings.

Once Upon A Week + Giveaway

Welcome to Once Upon A Week, hosted by Vanessa @ Today’s Adventure. Once Upon A Week is a week long event in which bloggers review fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, and discuss just why we love them so much.

This year we’re having a group read of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce and a discussion, so stay tuned for that coming up on August 5 (Thursday). Vanessa will also be highlighting the bloggers taking part in Once Upon A Week over on her blog. Today’s post, featuring Mariah @ A Reader’s Adventure, Britt @ Confessions of a Book Habitue and me, is here.

In spirit of the week, I thought it would be nice to have a fairy tale themed giveaway!

One (1) winner will have their pick of book:

or
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Contest is international. Open to anyone The Book Depository ships to.
Contest ends at 11:49 pm EST on August 7.

Rules
– must be 13 years of age or older to enter
– only 1 entry per person
– comment with your favourite fairy tale
– then fill out the form

– for a possible 3 extra entries, come back on August 5, 6 or 7 to fill out this form

Upcoming Activities

Lori @ Pure Imagination, Angel @ Reading Angel and Candace @ Candace’s Book Blog are hosting a three day, weekday readathon! The dates are July 12, 13 and 14 – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. There is no set amount of books to read, and you do not have to read continuously for three days – sleep and work are necessary. There will be some mini activities and challenges to participate in, and lots of prizes. There is no need to have a blog to join in the fun. Go here to sign up!

Kristen @ Bookworming in the 21st Century is hosting her HUGE TBR Readathon again, this time from July 19 to July 25, Monday to Sunday. I only managed to read two books and three graphic novels during the first one a few weeks ago, so I’m determined to do better this time. It actually works out well, since the last two days of the readathon will be the start of my vacation. I’m heading down to Maine on the 24th so I’ll have the entire 9 hour car ride to do nothing but read! I should finish at least two books just that day!

Vanessa @ Today’s Adventure is once again hosting Once Upon A Week; a week filled with nothing but posts related to fairy tales and fairy tale retellings. I had a blast last year, all my posts can be found under the Once Upon A Week category. This year, it runs from August 1 to 7, Sunday to Saturday. Check out her call to arms post for more information.

This year I started early; I already have one review set to go, and my fairy tale themed “Waiting On” Wednesday is prepped. This year I have an author interview set up, and even a contest. Since I want this week to go as smooth as possible, I’m getting the majority of my reading done early – I’m planning to post as many reviews as I can. Two books I was thinking of to read are Princess at the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George and The Wide Awake Princess by E. D. Baker. Any suggestions for fairy tale books I could read?

The Return of Fairy Tale Week

In November of last year, Vanessa @ Today’s Adventure hosted an amazing week of fairy tale retellings, dubbed Once Upon A Week. I absolutely love fairy tales, so I couldn’t resist participating.

Just recently, Vanessa put out the call – another fairy tale week is on the horizon, August 1-7! Of course I jumped at the chance and signed up immediately. It’s such a great week for anyone who likes re-told fairy tales (like Beastly and Princess of the Mightnight Ball), full of book reviews, contests, interviews/guest posts, a fairy tale themed Waiting On Wednesday, and activities. There may even be a group read/review this year, which would be a ton of fun. Check out Vanessa’s call to arms post and send her an e-mail if you’re interested!

Once Upon a Week: Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley

Spindle's End Spindle’s End
by Robin McKinley

ISBN – 13: 978-0-441-00865-0
Rating: none yet, tentative 4 ♥ / 5 ♥

A masterful retelling of “Sleeping Beauty”. Cursed by the evil fairy Pernicia, Princess Briar-Rose is kidnapped by the young fairy Katriona in order to save her and is raised by Katriona and her aunt. But the determined Pernicia, intent on revenge for a defeat 400 years before, won’t give up her search.

 

Unfortunately, I cannot give a full review of Spindle’s End right now. I had to order the book in, and it arrived only at the beginning of the week. It’s quite a bit longer than I thought, and with my work schedule this week I had very little time for anything else but sleeping. I am half way through, though!

I’m really enjoying Robin McKinley’s writing style, it’s very lyrical and kind of cheeky. Her discriptions are beautiful and not overwhelming. So far I’m quite intrigued by her characters, and her unique take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. I quite like Katriona (a young fairy), and her aunt. The world McKinley’s created is full and varied – I love her take on magic!

So far, I’m giving this a 4 out of 5 hearts. Once I finish, I’ll post another half review and give my final rating!

Once Upon A Week: My Own Fairy Tale

fairy tale week

The idea is to take the results of ONE of the following quizes, and rewrite the fairy tale with yourself in the place of said character. There is no restriction on length, and no other guidelines to follow – just to have fun using my imagination!

 

My Results
Quiz One resulted in Little Red Riding Hood

Quiz Two resulted in The Gingerbread Man

Quiz Three resulted in Cinderella

 

I’ve decided to tackle Little Red Riding Hood, adding a more modern and urban spin onto the classic tale (and hopefully avoid the pesky ‘being eaten’ problem).

 

Once upon a time, a young girl moved with her family from the country to the city, in order to be closer to her ailing grandmother. The girl, whose name was Cait (but was called Little Red, for her hair was the most lovely shade of red), was unsure about living in the city and was constantly told by her mother to be careful whenever she ventured out – the city could be a dangerous place and she should not talk to strangers.

It so happened on a day not too long after Little Red and her family arrived in the city, that her grandmother called requesting that Little Red’s mother bring her some books and tea, as she was all out of good reading material, and nearly out of tea. Unfortunately, Little Red’s mother had fallen ill with the flu (and her father was at work), so Little Red was asked to go instead. After being warned (again) about talking to strangers, and to not go anywhere other than her Grandmother’s house, Little Red quickly left, the books and tea nestled snuggly in a reusable grocery bag, and her bright red rain coat securely fastened to keep out the worst of the day’s downpour.

As the car was with her father at work, Little Red was forced to take the subway to get to her Grandmother’s house. She had travelled the subway before and was confident that she would be fine. Most people kept to themselves, after all. Little Red was sitting quite contently in the subway car when, a few stops before the one she would need to get off at, a man sat down next to her. Little Red glanced over quickly and her breath caught – he was gorgeous. Unable to stop staring, Little Red blushed when the man caught her hair and smirked lightly, and stuttered out an apology.

“No problem,” the man said, “my name’s Eric Woolfe.”

“Umm, Cait. But everyone calls me Little Red.”

“Well Little Red, it’s nice to meet you. Where are you headed on this gloomy day?”

Knowing she was not meant to talk to strangers, Little Red was hesitant to strike up a conversation, but eventually they were chatting back and forth, exclaiming over the books she was bringing to her Grandmother. Eric mentioned that here was a new book just released by her grandmother’s favourite author, and that there was a bookstore right at the corner where her stop would be, she should pop in to get it. Little Red agreed that would be a great idea, and sure to cheer her Grandmother up immensly, thanked Eric and got off the subway. Unknown to her, he took the subway to the next station and circled back to make it to Little Red’s Grandmother’s house before her – Little Red was quite forthcoming with information once you got her talking, and he had quite enjoyed her company.

Getting inside the Grandmother’s apartment building was quite easy. Unfortunately (for him), getting inside the actual apartment was more difficult. There were at least five locks on her door! Knocking, Eric tried his best to immitate Little Red’s voice. But Grandmother did not come and open the door, she yelled from the inside! Saying that her Little Red had a key, and who was this, trying to come into the apartment of a defenseless old lady. Surely not her grocery delivery boy, he had a secret knock. And certainly not her doctor, he didn’t make house calls! So whoever it is, just go away.

Well, Eric wasn’t giving up that quickly and settled down to slowly pick the five locks. Thankfully the apartment building seemed deserted at this time of day (it was a work day, after all). He was on the third lock when he cried out in pain. Looking down at his ankle, he saw a small, fluffy dog attached to his ankle. The owner was standing not five feet away, frowning and asking who he was and why he was picking the locks on that “nice Mrs. Stone’s front door”. He smiled his charming best, but the little dog growled and shook his head, his little teeth pinching tighter on Eric’s ankle. The lady crossed her arms, and insisted that if he didn’t leave right now, she was calling the landlord. Confident, he told her to go ahead. He was anxious now (Little Red could be here any minute!) and he needed the woman (and her little dog, too) to just go away. He was on the last lock when the landlord arrived. Turning around to face him, Eric felt that he could win a fight. One look at this landlord, and he paled. He looked like a lumberjack! All muscled arms, scruffy beard, jeans and flannel shirt. And was that a Doberman he had beside him? Those were much bigger teeth than the small fluffy dog!

Little Red was just pushing the buzzer to be let into her Grandmother’s building when the door opened and a man flew out the door shrieking, jumping and hopping to get away from the teeth of the great big dog chasing him down the sidewalk, tha landlord standing in the doorway looking satisfied. Little Red looked at the landlord in bewilderment, “who was that?”. The landlord informed her it was nothing to worry about, and she should hurry upstairs to her Grandmother, she was impatient for a visit – and a new book to read. Little Red smiled, thanked the landlord for holding the door open, and skipped up the steps into the building. The landlord smiled, and calling for his dog (who had a nice long stip of pant leg hanging from his jaws) headed back into the building, muttering about predators not being able to bother his tennants.

And so Little Red and no idea that the nice man she had met on the subway was anything other than that, though she was quite weary of strangers once again after hearing her Grandmother’s tale of the man who had been breaking into her apartment. Little Red and her Grandmother spent a lovely day inside out of the rain, reading novels and drinking tea, and living quite happily ever after.

Once Upon A Week: Fairy Tale Transformations

fairy tale week

 

Classic fairy tales have gone through numerous revisions and changes since they were first published. I thought I would look at a couple more well known fairy tales and list some of the changes they’ve gone through since they were first published: Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid.

SLEEPING BEAUTY
The Sleeping Beauty story that most people are familiar with was first contained in Charles Perrault’s 1697 publication “Tales of Mother Goose”. It tells the story of a princess cursed by an evil fairy to prick her finger on a spindle and die. It was unable to be removed, but a good fairy changed the curse so that the princess would not die, but just sleep for a hundred years until awakened by true love’s kiss. Although spindle’s were forbidden in the kingdom on pain of death, the princess still managed to find one around her sisteenth year, and pricking her finger fell asleep. The good fairy returned, put the entire castle to sleep, and a forest of briars formed around the castle, protecting it from the outside world. After a hundred years, a prince ventured to the castle. The briars parted before him, and he woke the princess with a kiss. The prince and princess were secretly wed and she bore him two children. The prince’s mother was of Ogre lineage, and when he went to wage war on his neighbouring Emporer, the Queen instructed the princess and her children be secluded in the wood and for the cook to prepare them to be eaten. The cook could not do so, and tricked the Ogress Queen. When she found out about the deception, she prepared a bit full of all manner of disgusting creatures. Thankfully, the prince returned in time to save his family and the Queen through herself into the pit she had prepared and was consumed. (French version)

The Brother’s Grimm included a variant of Perrault’s tale in the 1812 collection of fairy tales, calling it Briar Rose. It was in this collection that the story first ended with the prince arriving at the castle, and added the ‘happily ever after’ aspect to the tale. Unlike Perrault’s anonymous princess, the Grimm Brothers gave her the name Briar Rose. (German version)

Italo Calvino’s version detailed the cause of the princess’ sleep as a wish by her mother that if only she had a daughter, she wouldn’t care if the daughter died at fifteen from pricking her finger. In this tale, the princess is raped by the prince. Her children are born and one sucks on her finger, removing the prick that put her to sleep, thus waking her. (Italian version)

Of course, today’s most well known version* is Disney’s movie version. The princess is given the names Briar Rose and Aurora. She is sent into hiding with three fairy godmothers, and actually meets the prince in the woods. Through the machinations of the evil fairy Maleficent, Aurora pricks her finger and falls asleep. The rest of the castle is put to sleep, and briars grow up around the castle. The prince finds out, and actually has to battle dragon!Maleficent before he makes it to the castle to kiss her awake. Obviously, this means she was probably only sleeping for a few hours or days, not 100 years.

These basic overviews were summerized from the wonderful Wikipedia entry about the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.

CLICK HERE for more fairy tales!