Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Thirteenth Princess

Title:               The Thirteenth Princess
Category:       Fantasy, Fairy Tale
Grade:            4-7
Author:          Diane Zahler
Publisher:       Harper
Date:               2010
Pages:             243

After siring twelve daughters instead of a son, a thirteenth daughter would be a disappointment to any king.  Zita is banished at birth to the servants’ wing and all but disowned.  Her older sisters steal time with her when they can and communicate with her secretly until Zita’s twelfth birthday when they begin to fall mysteriously ill.  Zita, a friendly witch named Babette, and the stable boy Breckin search for answers as the sisters fail, and follow them into a magical realm in which the sisters are forced to dance all night every night.  With the help of Breckin’s older brother, Milek, the group attempts to free the princesses from the spell and uncover the startling source of the evil curse.

Thirteenth Princess is, of course, a variation of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses” tale, and a decently-told one.  Probably not a recommendation for readers who do not truly enjoy fairy-tale retellings, this one has nicely fleshed characters, a believable twist, and a somewhat fresh take on the princess-turned-servant angle.  While it is a good read, it does not really contain the originality or vibrancy to make it a truly great one.


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