Fans of Juliet Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing and Shannon Hale’s Books of Bayern series, rejoice! There is another princess in town! I was never one for princess fiction as a child, but that may be because I was not lucky enough to be 12 at the time when authors like Shannon Hale and Diane Zahler were writing.
Zahler takes the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and asks some very interesting questions: What if there was a thirteenth princess? What if she had been banished to live and work as servant in her own palace? What if she was the only one who could get the bottom of her twelve sisters’ mysterious behaviour and sudden exhaustion? These questions are the basis of Zahler’s charming and compelling first novel, The Thirteenth Princess.
I know it can’t possibly have been pleasant to live in the time period this sort of fiction is set in, but it sure sounds great: pots of warm chocolate enjoyed by a fire; hunting for tasty morels in enchanted forests with freckled stable boys; beaded slippers and soft feather beds in heavily-curtained turret rooms to lounge in. The world of this novel is richly imagined and deeply satisfying.
The plot has a nice balance of humour, romance, suspense, and adventure. It is safe to say that there is a little bit of everything wrapped up nicely in a fairytale. There has been some debate among children’s literature-types over whether or not the fractured fairytale is becoming passe. I am of the opinion that readers (mostly girls) will find this genre endlessly satisfying, especially if they are as well written as The Thirteenth Princess.
The Thirteenth Princess is available now from Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.