From Goodreads.com: Come and mend your broken hearts here. In this retelling of the classic tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” the eldest princess must fight to save her family—and her heart—from an ancient dark magic within the palace walls. “Full of mystery, lush settings, and fully orbed characters, Dixon’s debut is both suspenseful and rewarding.”—ALA Booklist
Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it’s taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.
Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.
Why I Chose It: I’m on a mission to get through my to-read shelf on Goodreads – this was at the top of the list! I was originally intrigued by the fairy tale re-telling as it focuses on the less common fairy tale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
I really loved the different characters in this book. The story focuses on the eldest sister, Azalea, whom I found elegant, charming and very sweet. What I loved though was that even with 12 girls in the family, none of the sisters were forgotten. They each had their personalities, with their quirks and charms, and interacted in an extremely believable sisterly way. While the older sisters had larger and more complex personalities, all sisters were present throughout the story. Plus it was easy to remember who was who, as each sister was named after the next letter of the alphabet (Azalea, Bramble, Clover…) in a simple and charming way that added to the fairy tale feel of the story.
The descriptions in this book are absolutely beautiful. The princesses escape to a magical forest that was enchanting, and I lived for the descriptions each time they visited. On top of their surroundings, the princesses are also constantly dancing, an element which I was delighted to see in the story. They dance not only ballet, but waltzes, jigs, and even the polka! I loved that the descriptions of their movements were smooth and elegant, and fit naturally into their world, helping to bring the sisters to life. The dancing in the book was one of my favourite elements of the story.
This re-telling of the fairy tale was extremely well done. It had all the elements, such as princesses, enchanted forests, evil kings, magic castles, and even dashing romances. Even so, I was really happy to read about Azalea and the amount of strength her character had. She was not a passive character, which added to the overall strength of the book. While the narrative itself is quite simple in parts, and the problems are solved quite easily, I think this is a really great version of the fairy tale and would be perfect for a younger audience.
Rating: 5 / 5
“Fairweller, by contrast, was a thundercloud. He never smiled. The only color he wore was black, even his waistcoat and cufflinks, giving the impression of a sleek, overlarge spider. With the added disadvantage that you couldn’t squash him.” p 29
“A forest. But nothing like the wood behind the palace! Every bough, branch, leaf, and ivied tendril looked as though it had been frosted in silver. It shimmered in the soft, misty light. […] She turned to a glass-spun tree on her left. Silver ornaments glowed among the delicate silver leaves – glimmering glass plums. Azalea touched one. Its edging glittered as it swayed. Next to the ornament, strings of pearls swathed each branch in swooping arcs.” p 107-108
“Tonight the silver forest dripped here and there, though instead of raindrops, it dripped pearls. They reflected the light of the lamp as they fell. Azalea caught one in her hand, and it wetted her glove as a normal raindrop would, but left a pearly white spot.” p 126-127