Boy did this book make me see red. I wrote this, initially meaning it to be a review, but I can’t put it on Goodreads. I really need to write some more positive reviews. But most happy book glows just leave me wanting to play Neverwinter Nights or go read another book, not write a review.
Anywho. Princess of the Midnight Ball. Take that.
Yet another retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Maybe I’m just partial to the original fairy tale, but I have yet to read a retelling or “reimagining” that I liked.
The writing is okay, although the voice in Rose’s perspective is so okay it’s average. The introduction of a sort of underworld king and the treatment of the dancing as wholly negative is written well. It just wasn’t enough.
Especially as one of the conflicts in the first quarter of the book is based on a dumb, you-blink-you-miss-it accident.
My two biggest complaints with this book are one: that it’s too drawn-out, and two: that it employs a surprisingly offensive bunch of stereotypes.
Nothing is added to the original fairy tale. It pretty much just goes along as it “should”, elaborating more than I felt was interesting. The princesses’ names are boring flower names, and most of them are the kind of obnoxious little girls I dread reading about.
The stereotypes distressed me. They might have started before the point I noticed them, but when I noticed them, it hit like a hurricane.
A prince of “Spania” (Spain) arrives to try and break the curse. His entire culture is immediately talked down as dandies to the reader. Overly concerned with their appearance. That’s a nice way to talk about people who helped fight in your war. The next chapter brought in a prince of “La Belge”, who had a heavy accent and tried to use romance to learn the princesses’ secret. The second prince chapter added nothing.
Both of these characters, temporary as they were, came laden with Spanish and French steretypes…which is a little offensive, since Belgian stereotypes are VERY different.
The protagonist even insults the princes upon learning of their deaths. In a very, “I’m not surprised, he rather deserved it,” sort of way. The princesses are nasty in their indifference towards the deaths. Because screw the princes, they’re only talking about this to warn the gardener.
Sigh. I want so much to like Jessica Day George’s books. I loved Tuesdays at the Castle, and I liked the whole Dragon Slippers Series. But the problems in Princess of the Midnight Ball were too much for me. Its pacing is like a glacier trying to reach California, the romance was not engaging, and it doesn’t use the fairy tale basis to accomplish anything interesting.