I read this book when I needed a break during finals week. Sometimes you just need a book that you can sit down and read in an hour or two, and doesn’t make you think too much. This was one of those books for me. Since I was a little girl I have loved fairy tales. They’re like my go to genre when I need something familiar, relaxing and/or comforting. So this was just what I needed during finals week.
This book surprised me. Over the years I have read a lot of re-imagined fairy tales, and a lot of re-imagined versions of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. But Merrie Haskell’s rendition of this classic fairy tale surpassed my expectations. Haskell took the story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and Beauty and the Beast and did a stunning job.
Typically the story involves twelve princesses (duh), an invisibility cloak, a curse and a young soldier. Already you can tell that this has the makings of a good story. However, most of the renditions I have read I was not especially impressed with. Classically, the princesses are under a curse or spell to dance all night. Although their bedroom door is locked they somehow disappear during the night and in the morning all the princesses and their shoes are worn out. The King then issues a decree that to anyone who can solve the mystery of where the princesses go will receive one of his daughters’ hands in marriage. But, if anyone tries to discover the secret and fails, they are either put in prison or executed. This is where the soldier character comes in. He, a poor young man, is travelling to the castle with only a few belongings to discover the princess’s secret when he runs into an old woman (or man) who gives him an invisibility cloak in exchange for some food (a classic fairy tale move). So when night comes he slips on the invisibility cloak, and follows the princesses down a secret passage way and frees them from the curse. That’s the basic outline at least.
But if you take out the invisibility cloak, and the soldier, and throw in a bright thirteen-year-old girl with a knack for herbs, you get The Princess Curse. What I loved most about this book was the main character, Reveka. The relationships she created with the other characters and her positive view of the world around her inspired me and reminded me of what it was like to be thirteen when the real world is still unreal, and you feel that, given the freedom, you can do anything with your life. The plot is fairly predictable given that it is based on a well-known fairy tale, but it had enough surprises to keep me interested and the characters kept me invested.
Haskell’s writing reminded me of Gail Carson Levine’s (author of Ella Enchanted, Fairest, etc.), and if you liked Carson’s books I would recommend you give The Princess Curse a try. I haven’t read any of her other books yet, but I am excited to explore them. Although the back of this book recommends The Princess Curse for ages 8-12, I would recommend it for anyone that enjoys fairy tales, needs a little pick-me-up, or wants to feel young again. This is a book that will transport you to another world, and bring you back with a better outlook on life.