Under the stars, in a secret world...
Rowena, the youngest of twelve sisters, loves to slip out of the castle at night and dance in a magical forest. Soon she convinces her sisters to join her. When Sir Ethan notices that his daughters' slippers look tattered every morning, he is certain they've been sneaking out. So he posts a challenge to all the suitors in the kingdom: The first man to discover where his daughters have been is free to marry the one he chooses.
Meanwhile a handsome young knight named Bedivere is involved in a challenge of his own: to return the powerful sword, Excalibur, to a mysterious lake. While looking for the lake, Bedivere meets the beautiful Rowena and falls for her. Bedivere knows that accepting Sir Ethan's challenge is the only opportunity for him to be with Rowena forever. But this puts both Bedivere and Rowena in a dangerous situation...one in which they risk their lives for a chance at love.
Beth says 2 Stars...
I was so excited about this book. I'd read a couple of the books in the Once Upon a Time... series and had enjoyed them (The Storyteller's Daughter is just fantastic). The story of the 12 Dancing Princesses is one of my all-time favorites, and I'm also a bit of a sucker for Arthurian legend. I thought that combining the two would be fantastic. Alas, I was disappointed. The story just never gelled. It followed two characters who were separated and then came together, but the way they met didn't really make sense. The magics weren't well defined (a problem for a fantasy novel) because they weren't exactly Arthurian, but then weren't like those in a typical fairy tale. The combination made one of the central elements very confusing and took away from the book. The plot was also a fusion that just didn't work. Sometimes it felt that I needed to be thinking about Camelot, yet at others I should have remembered the fairy tales. I love fusions and twist on fairy tales, but this time it just felt choppy. It didn't blend together like it needed to. Besides that, it was predictable. I didn't know exactly how everything was going to happen, but I knew ahead of time what was going on. I hate being able to guess a plot (and I'm also really terrible at it), and it really detracts from the story in my opinion.
The characters were nothing remarkable. The villain didn't seem that evil, and the good characters were on the boring side. I wanted depth and differences and found none. The romance was so blah. It was safe and typical complete with the whole "true love is magnificent, immediate, and conquers/heals all things" message. Maybe I'm just a cynic, but I think that it's more complicated than that. I guess I'm also comparing this retelling with Jessica Day George's magnificent Princess of the Midnight Ball, so it even weaker. The writing wasn't that great, so there was nothing to really save the book. The dialogue was unsophisticated and Weyn tended to drop information on you like a brick. There wasn't any nuance.
I was saddened by this book. I wanted it to be good and fun, but it failed me. If you want a better retelling of the same story grab the book by Jessica Day George that I mentioned because you won't regret it. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for this one.
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