Friday, August 21, 2020

My Favorite Twelve Dancing Princesses Retelling (One Week Until THE MIDNIGHT SHOW!)

Hello, everyone! There's just a week and a day left before The Midnight Show releases into the world, and only a few days before the Tattered Slippers tour starts! Who else is excited besides me? On that topic, I have a bonus announcement that I think is really cool. Do you like signed books? Do you like signed books that don't cost extra money and don't require you to drive hours to crowded places in order to meet the author? If so, you'll be happy to know that if you buy a physical copy of The Midnight Show on release weekend (the 29th through the 31st) and send me some kind of proof of purchase, I'll mail you a signed bookplate to go in the book. Boom! You now have a signed book. (Please note — I'm still figuring out if I can do this outside the US or not, mostly because I'm getting mixed messages about whether or not I can actually send mail to people outside the US yet, because COVID. If you live outside the US and know the answer to "Can someone in the United States send mail to your country and have it arrive before 2025," feel free to let me know!)

Anyway. Moving on to the actual post. As y'all probably are aware at this point, the Twelve Dancing Princesses is one of my favorite fairytales ever, both to retell myself and to read retellings of. And, to celebrate the upcoming release tour (and my new book), I thought I'd spotlight some of my favorite currently-published retellings in today's post. Some of these you may be pretty familiar with already — I talk about them a lot — but others are more low-key.

Favorite Twelve Dancing Princesses Retellings!

  1. Entwined by Heather Dixon. This should surprise absolutely no one who's been following me for a while; Entwined is both my favorite 12DP retelling and one of my favorite fairy tale retellings in general. A focus on familial relationships, multiple sweet romances, a gorgeous hidden underworld, a dark tale woven through with light humor, a deliciously creepy villain with indisputable style — I've said this all before; it's everything I could want in a Twelve Dancing Princesses story. One thing I particularly like is that, despite the fact that this has probably the most romance out of any of the books on this list, it's one of the two in which it's most evident that it's familial love, not romantic love, that saves the day.
  2. A Branch of Silver, a Branch of Gold by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. This is a pretty loose retelling, but it's still wonderful and gorgeous. It's one of the darker books in this list, but at the same time, there's such a marvelous light to it (just as there is in all of the Goldstone Wood books). Again, the emphasis, in the end, comes out to sisterly love and loyalty — in fact, this is almost a nomance, there's so little actual romantic stuff in it. And the curse and its breaking are so dark and magnificent and mysterious — it's amazing. (Also: if you haven't read Goldstone Wood, you can still read this book! It's not part of the series, just the same world. There are things you'll recognize if you've read the stories, but none of the recognizances is essential to the story.)
  3. The City Beyond the Glass by Suzannah Rowntree. I actually featured this book on another list very recently: my favorite historical fantasy books. Technically, in terms of how much I like them, this and the next book on the list are about equal . . . but I'm putting this one higher for allegorical significance and writing quality. The City Beyond the Glass takes the two themes most often hit on by 12DP retellings — desire for freedom and love of family — and spins them out to explore them to their fullest extent. The result is an excellent story with a main character willing to do anything for her sisters (whether or not they want her to do it) and a subtle (or possibly not-so-subtle, depending) allegory. Props also go to the Glass Doge, the story's villain, for being pretty dang creepy, even if he doesn't have the style of some of the other 12DP villains.
  4. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. This is the classic 12DP retelling in my mind, mostly because it's the first one I read. The story may not have the dark beauty or pack the emotional or spiritual punch as some of the others do, but it and its sequels are still pretty high up on my favorite fairy tale retellings list. Again, we have the sisterly loyalty and protectiveness, and we also have Galen, who I still think is pretty cool. I also appreciate the fact that it's something pretty unassuming that is instrumental in saving the day in this story. (Also, it's one of the only 12DP retellings I've found that really capitalizes on the potential of the meeting between the male lead and the old woman on the road! So that's cool.)
  5. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Mariller. First of all: kudos to the author of this book for not going the route of pretty much everyone else and making the dancing pavilion either secretly or overtly horrible. I love the creepiness potential in the pavilion and the different ways people approach that creepiness, but it's nice to see something different, y'know? To have it be somewhere that the sisters want to go and choose to go and that isn't trying to trap and/or kill them. While there are definitely some things that I think could be better (by which I mean that Tatiana is kind of an idiot at times and Jenica has her turn holding the idiot ball as well), there's still a lot to enjoy in this story.

What's your favorite Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling? Are you excited about the Tattered Slippers release tour? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

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