Missed PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL and/or PRINCESS OF GLASS?
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That's a crazy sale, bookworms, but one that every fairy tale lover should be hopping on!
New fans to the series can jump into PRINCESS OF THE SILVER WOODS without reading the first two books. Day George does a great job recapping past events so that first time readers (or returning readers who haven't read the series in a while) know who's who and what's been happening, bringing everyone up to speed. The novel centers around Petunia, the youngest of the twelve sisters. Through her, we find out how her sisters are doing and seeing them living "Happily Ever After" as she carves her own path in life. There has always been creepiness revolving around the sisters courtesy of the King Under Stone, who forced the girls to spend most of their years dancing. Even though he has been defeated, his sons still love, and their Kingdom is still crumbling. The twelve sons still need twelve brides able to walk beneath the sun to bear them sons and save their kingdom. Their eyes are still set on the sisters, even the married ones. They bring Petunia and her sisters to their world through dreams, which become more deadly, and only True Love can bring the girls back after they're captured for real.
PRINCESS OF THE SILVER WOODS read more Robin Hood than Little Red Riding Hood to me (and what a clever pun those two make side-by-side there!), which I hadn't been anticipating. I've wanted this book since before there was a real summary, so I only knew about the Little Red Riding Hood connection. I didn't even know that it intentionally had a Robin Hood one until pasting the summary below for you all just now. The book has a more natural tilt toward the one tale over the other. The Little Red Riding Hood aspect, which gives the book its cover image, feels forced in comparison.
My favorite aspect of this novel was the unique lore centering around the King Under Stone and his brothers. When I first saw the tale outlined, I actually stopped reading and started googling the tale because I didn't know it and wanted to know what fairy tale mix I was reading now. I wasn't. The lore is unique and created by Day George. I really liked the way even their villainous roots were tied to a tale, making the book feel more complete, as well as the series as a whole. This new twist also made the villains more unique; otherwise, elements would have felt too much like they were taken from past books. This new lore was enough to keep me intrigued and wanting to know more.
That being said, this was probably also my least favorite of the three books. It felt more rushed, had insta-love with little page time devoted to developing the relationship, and was less immersed in fairy tales than its predecessors. Granted, Day George was pregnant as she wrote this, and nursing an infant while editing, so she probably didn't have as much time or energy to commit to the final book. This book also read more tween-ish, bridging the gap between her middle-grade novels and her teen ones, and in this way, didn't have the same feel as the prior two books. There was also less character development, it seemed, because it relied heavily on knowing readers had read the previous books and didn't need to know the supporting cast as well this time around. Then again, there are a lot more characters taking up page time, which leaves less pages for developmental purposes. To begin with, twelve princesses! Petunia is perhaps my least favorite of the princesses; I cared for her less than I did the main characters in the first two books, perhaps because she was too naive. On the other hand, Oliver felt more well-developed. I really enjoyed his backstory, as well as the way he had his own tale to play out. His motivations rang true, and I really liked the way he was disguised.
I'm not saying this is a weak book, because it's certainly not. It's still much better than a lot of other books out there. It just isn't my favorite novel by Day George. I'll still be buying a copy when it comes out in paperback (Because all my other books by her are in paperback, and whether they're hardcover/paperback/ebook/what-have-you, they MUST match!) and letting it sit proudly on my Fairy Tale Shelf. It was still an enjoyable read, and in some ways, I think first-time readers to the series or readers in the actual age demographic this was written for will get more out of it than repeat world-visitors in some ways, but I think the repeaters will still enjoy themselves. There are sentences and minor characters brought in/back just for us, an inside-joke. I love when we see such moments in fiction and go, "Oh, yeah!" after forgetting for so long. For those of us who love seeing what happens after Happily Ever After, it's nice to see how lives continue, twist, and change, and was a true ending to the series in this aspect.