Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George is a retelling of the fairy tale known as the 12 dancing princesses. I’m not as familiar with this fairy tale as I am with other fairy tales. Before I read this book, all I really remembered was that for some reason, every night the 12 princesses danced the night away. No one could explain the mystery of the princesses’ worn out shoes, because even when they were guarded at night, no one saw anything. Since this is a fairy tale, I assume (since I don’t remember) that the ending involved someone solving the riddle (and likely marrying one of the princesses). I hope this next statement doesn’t spoil the plot for those interested in reading Princess of the Midnight Ball. My brief summary above does indeed reflect the plot of the book and I must say this was a very enjoyable teen read.
Princess Rose is the oldest of the 12 princesses who are cursed to dance every night in the court of evil King Under Stone deep inside the earth. Their mother made a bargain with the King that she would dance in his court every night and in return, she and her husband could have children. When she died, the King forced her 12 daughters to take her place to fulfil the bargain.
The war has just ended and Galen, a young soldier who’s parents died in the war, comes to the capital hoping to find a home with his mother’s family. The only skill he wants to keep from his time in the army is his ability to knit. Fortunately, his uncle is the King’s Head Gardener so Galen is happy to become an assistant gardener in the Queen’s garden where he ends up meeting the princesses.
Meanwhile, the King is at a loss to explain why his daughters’ shoes are always worn out and finally proclaims that any prince who can solve the riddle will win Rose’s hand in marriage and become the heir to his throne. One by one, princes arrive but none can solve the mystery. Even worse, after leaving the country, one by one each of those princes die and the Kings from the surrounding countries are furious.
Galen is drawn to Rose and offers to solve the mystery knowing that if he doesn’t, he will die. Even with help form unexpected sources, can he break the curse?