by Heather Dixon
The back of the book says: Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father's grief. What they don't understand--although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in--is the that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose.
RCM says: *happy sigh* I loved this book. It is eminently satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable.
It's a retelling of a fairy tale (The Twelve Dancing Princesses), and manages to capture everything magical that a fairy tale should be. The writing, the characters, and the story itself are flat out charming. The plot stays true to the source material, while bringing a fresh originality to the tale.
Azalea, eldest of the twelve princesses, is delightful, and earns her stripes as an RCM approved fairy tale heroine. She doesn't go swashbuckling, but she has moments of great bravery and emotional strength.
The characters are all well-drawn and distinct, quite a feat with such a large cast. I adored Bramble and Clover. (All the girls have plant names, including a Delphinium, which amused me for reasons that readers of Texas Gothic will understand.) Even the youngest of the sisters had a consistent and dimensional personality, as did all the suitors--successful and not.
There's a delightful romance for Azalea (fairy tales need a happily ever after), but by far the most compelling relationship journey in the book was that of Azalea and her father, the King. The story begins with the castle plunging into mourning for the girls' mother, and the themes of grief and healing and family are explored very well. The resolution of this emotional arc was tied up with the external plotline in a most satisfying way. (There may have been a few sniffles. But I'm a daddy's girl, so there's that.)
This is exactly the type of story I enjoy most. Well-written, effortless prose, emotional depth, engaging characters, and an exciting plot. A ripping good tale, as Lord Teddie would say.
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