Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Princess of the Midnight Ball
George, Jessica Day. 2009. Princess of the Midnight Ball. Bloomsbury. 276 pages.
It's narrated by a boy. Perhaps not the most eloquent way to start the review. But it's something not so obvious. The cover. The book jacket. It looks and sounds like this will be all princess-y. And it is, in a way. But the story, for the most part, is not their stories--the stories of the twelve princesses. No, it's the story of the hero-in-waiting, Galen.
Here is the book jacket, "Princess Rose is the eldest of twelve sisters condemned to dance each night for the wicked King Under Stone in his palace deep within the earth. It is a curse that has haunted the girls since their birth--and only death will set them free. Then Rose meets Galen, a young soldier-turned-gardener with an eye for adventure and a resolve that matches her own, and freedom suddenly begins to seem a little less impossible. To defeat the king and his dark court, they will need one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all--true love."
Galen is a young man returning from war. He's an orphan--having lost both his mother and father--and he's on his way to a new life. He's searching for his aunt and uncle. Hoping to find a family, a place. He's welcomed--perhaps not too warmly--by his relatives and taken into the family business: being gardeners for the royal family. And if this wasn't a novel inspired by a fairy tale, perhaps what happened next wouldn't be quite so exciting: his developing acquaintance with the oldest princess, Rose.
There were many things I enjoyed about this novel--the fairy taleness of it all--but I think the thing that strikes me most is our knitting hero. How often do you stumble across a manly man knitting in literature? If there are others out there, I'm not familiar with them. (If you know of another knitting hero that is swoon-worthy, let me know in the comments.) In fact it is this man's knitting that saves the day. They'd be no story without those knitting needles...
The book is complex--more complex than I'm letting on in the review--and it's entertaining. I enjoyed it. If you're a fan of fairy-tale-inspired novels, this one might be for you. It might be something you want to keep in mind for this spring's reading challenges--I'm *assuming* that Carl will be hosting the Once Upon A Time challenge again. I love that challenge, I do. Then again, I wouldn't blame you if you just couldn't wait til then!
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews