Author: Jessica Day George
Genre: Fairy tale retellings, young adult.
Reason for Reading: The Twelve Dancing Princesses was one of my favorite stories as a child, but you rarely see it reworked.
Pages: 277, including two knitting patterns and a pronunciation guide
Copyright Date: 2009
Cover: A girl descends a shallow staircase wearing an elaborate brocade ballgown. Her eyes are downcast, her expression blank.
First line: "Because he had once been human, the King Under Stone sometimes found himself plagued by human emotions."
Best part: I really liked the way the main character's time as a soldier was presented.
Worst part: Some of the elements I remember as being important in the version I read as a child were absent. (Does anybody else remember a silken towel?) But maybe they weren't standard.
Imaginary Theme Song: "Down By the Riverside"
Recommended for: Those who like fairy tale retellings to have a bit of realism.
Related Reads: The Fire-Rose by Mercedes Lackey, Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, and Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner.
Galen is seeking a home he never knew. The son of a camp-follower, his whole life has been war. Now the war is ended, his parents are dead, and he is searching for relatives he has never met. Life becomes much more complicated for Galen with a chance encounter with an old woman, the discovery that his lost relatives are in the service of the king, and his acquaintance with a certain charming yet practical princess...
It was hard to pick just one favorite thing about this book. As I mentioned above, the hero's past as a soldier was treated very well. It was not simply a fact of the past - it was clear that the war was still with Galen and with everyone else as well. I also loved the way that religion was treated in this story. Frequently, fairy tale retellings are placed in a pseudo-medieval setting without any acknowledgment of the role that the Church played in that time period. The plot was engaging. It was hard to keep the princesses straight, but there are twelve of them! So that wasn't really the author's fault. I strongly recommend this title.