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Life, Law & Libros

The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell (3 stars)

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I've been searching for a good 12 Dancing Princesses retelling. I loved Wildwood Dancing and it's a fairy tale you can take in so many directions. The Princess Curse is an interesting blend of the 12 Princesses, Beauty and the Beast and the story of Persephone. It isn't the totally amazing retelling I was hoping for, but, despite its flaws, I liked it. (The nice cover art doesn't hurt either.)


The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
Series: n/a
Genres: MG, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
Published on September 1, 2011
Published by HarperCollins
Final Rating: 3 stars


Synopsis:
In the fifteenth-century kingdom of Sylvania, the prince offers a fabulous reward to anyone who cures the curse that forces the princesses to spend each night dancing to the point of exhaustion. Everyone who tries disappears or falls into an enchanted sleep.

Thirteen-year-old Reveka, a smart, courageous herbalist’s apprentice, decides to attempt to break the curse despite the danger. Unravelling the mystery behind the curse leads Reveka to the Underworld, and to save the princesses, Reveka will have to risk her soul.

Princess Curse combines magic, suspense, humor, and adventure into a story perfect for fans of Gail Carson Levine.


Review:
What I liked:
  • I like that the author draws out the dark, Persephone undertones in this twist on the 12 Dancing Princesses. The Greek elements work pretty well.
  • The protagonist, Reveka, has future aspirations beyond what is usual for her station, but she is also practical and aware of her likely future. Overall, she is believable for the era/world created.
  • The ending is not a clean cut happily ever after. It's kind of opened ended. It closes off this story arc and hints toward a happy-ish future, but it also leaves room for a sequel, although none seems to be in the works.

What I didn't like:
  • The plot/pacing is a little sluggish at the beginning and through the middle. Then it suddenly picks up and progresses quickly. A faster start and more consistent pacing would keep the book from dragging here and there.
  • I realize this is technically a MG book, but it's definitely upper-MG. Which is why I was irked that most of the side characters are a little simple, a bit one-dimensional. It's a short book; I know there's limited time. But the slower spots could have been put to better use fleshing out some of the cast.
  • The ending feels rushed. It doesn't go into the multiple layers and detail I'd have liked; and while the open ended finale is good in some ways, I would have liked a little more closure on this story.


Final Thoughts:
It's not the greatest fairy tale retelling out there, and Reveka is not the most likable protagonist in the world; but it's a quick read with a bit of magic and fewer easy outs than typical MG fairy tales. If you're looking for a quick bite of fantasy, this should do the trick.

2 comments :

  1. Darn...I've read a YA remake of 12 Dancing Princesses but I can not think of it right now...urg. I enjoyed it too. Darn it. If I think of it I'll let you know. Very unhelpful comment!

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    Replies
    1. No worries. Let me know if you think of it. :) I think the only 12 Princess retellings I've read besides this one are Wildwood Dancing, Princess of the Midnight Ball, Entwined and The Night Dance.

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