Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Book: The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler

The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler is yet another new fairy tale related release this month. This is Zahler's first novel for young readers, a retelling of Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Publisher's description:

Zita is not an ordinary servant girl—she's the thirteenth daughter of a king who wanted only sons. When she was born, Zita's father banished her to the servants' quarters to work in the kitchens, where she can only communicate with her royal sisters in secret.

Then, after Zita's twelfth birthday, the princesses all fall mysteriously ill. The only clue is their strangely worn and tattered shoes. With the help of her friends—Breckin the stable boy, Babette the witch, and Milek the soldier—Zita follows her bewitched sisters into a magical world of endless dancing and dreams. But something more sinister is afoot—and unless Zita and her friends can break the curse, the twelve princesses will surely dance to their deaths.

A classic fairy tale with a bold twist, The Thirteenth Princess tells the unforgettable story of a magical castle, true love, spellbound princesses—and the young girl determined to save them all.

Per usual, I haven't read this one yet. When I first saw the title listed as a fairy tale retelling several months ago, I wasn't even sure if it was a Twelve Dancing Princesses tale since there wasn't much information available, although I assumed as such with the title. It's on my list of books to acquire depending on budget constraints, so when I get to read it, I'll share more.

So far the reviews and blurbs have been positive--Gregory Maguire provided one of the author blurbs. The book has also been chosen as an NCTE/ALAN Pick for February 2010.

Here's the review:

This story is a twist on the traditional German tale of the twelve dancing princesses who mysteriously wear out a pair of dancing shoes each night. Zahler adds a thirteenth princess to the tale, creating a unique twist. While the back story of the twelve enchanted princesses is woven seamlessly into the plot, readers will enjoy the addition of twelve-year-old Zita, the thirteenth princess, who has been relegated to the servant quarters by her dad because her mother died during her birth. Zita adores all her sisters, but she can only have a secretive relationship with them. When Zita discovers something horribly amiss with her sisters, she learns she must save them from an enchantment that threatens to slowly steal their lives. In the end, she is able to win back her father’s affection, expose the witch that cast an evil spell on her family’s castle, and attain her rightful place alongside her sisters.

Though she is everything a princess is expected to be—pretty, smart, lively—Zita also is adventurous, brave and selfless. In the end, these qualities help her unveil truths that save the day. Young teens will be thoroughly entertained by this new take on a familiar tale.

Reviewed by Elaine J. O’Quinn, Boone, NC

So has anyone else read this one yet? Please comment if you have.

I'm really impressed with how many retellings of this tale that have been published in the past decade. Hardly anyone seemed to know this fairy tale existed when I started SurLaLune and now there is a glut of novelizations. To see a list of other Twelve Dancing Princesses retellings, visit Modern Interpretations of Twelve Dancing Princesses on SurLaLune.

1 comment:

  1. I actually read this book last week. I thought it was cute, although I had a little difficulty with Zita at first (the part where Zita just one day finds out she's really the thirteenth princess and is totally happy about it rather than upset that no one ever told her before). Definitely seems geared towards younger readers, I'd say probably in the 9-12 range, I found it to be an enjoyable read.

    The Twelve Dancing Princesses has been one of my favorite fairy tales ever since I saw the Faerie Tale Theatre version when I was little, so I always try to read new retellings of it.