Love fairy tales and mythology?
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

 KING LIONEL OF DANZARI was running out of options. The blight on his land had dragged on for three long years. Despite his best efforts, the crops continued to wither and the animals continued to perish at an alarming rate. Their silk work population was half of what it once was. The people were barely hanging on, hungry and angry. If he didn't do something drastic, Danzari would cease to be the beautiful, thriving country it had always been. Consequently, he found himself bouncing in his carriage on a rash journey into the lush land of Kelkona to speak with the infamous Dark King.
   It had only been three years since Prince Drake was crowned King Kelkona, and already he had been given the dubious title of Dark King. This was due, in part, to the abrupt illness and deaths of the former King Kostis of Kelkona and his eldest son Crown Prince Conan, shortly after some festival. Many speculated that the Dark King had murdered them to ascend the throne.
   Lionel shivered. If it weren't for his desperation, he would never have come. But Kelkona's rich thriving land was legendary. Perhaps therein lay the answers to saving his own kingdom. He was determined to find out. 

(Page 1, US e-ARC edition)

“I can create a portal from your home to mine. This way, travel between kingdoms will be simple -- you could come each weeek and not be missed. If it helps, I can even host the ball at midnight, thus allowing you time to complete your duties.


When I heard that THE DARK KING AND THE ETERNAL DANCE by Alesha Adamson was a mix of one of my favorite fairy tales, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and one of my favorite Greek myths, the tale of Persephone and Hades, I knew I had to read it. Even better? It's part of the A Villain's Ever After anthology, so of course, now I want to read all the things. (Although unluckily for me -- but lucky for many of you! -- I don't have a Kindle Unlimited subscription and don't shop with the Big A, so I just have to hope that one day, the rest of the collection goes wide!)

While we all know the tale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, how many of us know the origins of the magic that brings the sisters to their endless midnight dance? Usually, we are dropped into the story where the girls have been dancing for a long period already, the king is at his wit's end, and men are lining up to solve the mystery and claim a princess for a bride as their prize. This time, however, we see what leads to the dance, and this rendition is much less nefarious than most.

When King Lionel of Danzari travels to the kingdom of Kelkona to speak with King Drake, the Dark King rumored to have killed his father and elder brother in order to seize the crown, he is desperate. His kingdom is floundering and he would love access to the magic keeping Kelkona so healthy. Drake agrees, but only if Lionel promises his eldest daughter Faelynn's hand in marriage. Lionel is, of course, hesitant to do so since he promised his daughters a say in whom they'd marry, so instead, he promises that he will tell all his daughters about the request and let them decide. Drake is still set on winning Faelynn's hand, so he travels to Danzari and tells Faelynn he will magically create a weekly Midnight Ball for her to attend with her sisters over the next six months so that the two of them may get to know one another better, never stopping to think about the sisters or the feelings on the matter.

The novel alternates between Drake's point of view, Faelynn's POV, and one of her younger sister's, Rayna's, POV. None of the twelve sisters wish to marry the scary Dark King, of course, and it's a widely known secret that Faelynn has already given her heart away -- though nobody has told Drake, of course. Rayna managed to overhear Drake and Faelynn when the spell was cast, but was helpless to do anything to stop the curse. Now, she is the one who tries to keep the peace. Her youngest sisters love going to a fancy ball and dancing the night away, while some of the older girls hate it and are plotting things that could lead to war if discovered -- unless she can talk them down. When one of the sisters loses the key to returning home, Rayna decides to give her own away to save her sister, leaving her alone in a foreign kingdom for an entire week. But maybe she can use that time to show Drake that there are other ways to help her kingdom than just marrying Faelynn?

The novel is much heavier on the fairy tale elements that inspired it than is the mythological ones, but the tale was woven well and easy to become immersed in. I have seen so many wildly different takes on The Twelve Dancing Princessees over the years, so the beloved tale never feels old or stale. I really enjoyed the fact that this ball wasn't "evil" or "wrong" but based in the enchanter wanting to get to know his future bride better, misguided though he may have been. I also liked seeing the way other elements of the tale were pulled in and shaped, making it feel familiar, yet also new. In some versions, only the princess who is the main character of the novel gets any in-depth screen time and readers are left knowing little about her sisters. With a cast that large, it's easy to get lost in the mix. And while some sisters are touched on more than others, a lot of personalities were brought forward and expanded upon, which was a nice change. There were even hints at future companion novels featuring a couple of the girls - in fact, Adamson's next novel, which releases in 2022, is entitled THE WOLF'S GOLDEN DECEPTION and mixes together the tale of Little Red Riding Hood and the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, starring another one of the sisters, whose story you'll be wanting to know after finishing this novel.

I love when the romance in a book takes time to develop and isn't instant. The characters have to work for it, and therefore have a stronger, more lasting foundation. Drake initially doesn't have true feelings when he makes the deal with King Lionel. Faelynn is beautiful and well-liked by her people. With her at his side, he could build a better reputation and maybe his people will stop seeing him as an evil Dark King. Even six months into the balls, he only sees Faelynn and never considers any other way into the future other than what he arbitrarily decided he wanted. It isn't until Rayna is trapped on his estate for a week and he has to actually talk to her and learn about her and her life that he begins to develop real feelings and understand his own heart. There is more to romance than visual infatuation, and watching their relationship develop formed the heartbeat of the story. The burn is steady and endearing, and readers will be rooting for various romances with a few of the sisters and some side characters to develop as the novel progresses. The romance is also very clean and can be read at any age!

I'm always sad when I read a debut author and realize there isn't any backlist to go back and devour, and this time is no different. I'll be very patiently waiting to get my hands on Adamson's sophomore title next year and reunite with some of these characters and dive even deeper into their own lives.


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( Kissing; slight innuendo at the end when they wake up in a bed, but nothing obvious )
Language: --
Violence: --
Other:  --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The filigree immediately catches my eye and draws me in! I love a pretty filigree, and was intrigued by the symbol at the bottom! The cover also has a bit of darkness to it, and that towering castle in the background? Sign me up!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Alesha Adamson
Release Date: September 24, 2021
Publisher: Alesha Adamson
Received: For Review

An unwanted proposal. An unexpected curse. Will Rayna, and her eleven sisters ever be free of the Dark King and his eternal dance?

Rayna is not usually the boldest of her sisters. However, when her eldest sister, Faelynn, seems ready to abandon her own happily ever after and accept the Dark King’s proposal, Rayna knows she must act and take drastic measures before someone gets hurt. Measures that just might cost her her heart.

Drake’s reputation as the Dark King precedes him—a reputation he doesn’t quite deserve. When the opportunity arises, Drake seizes the chance to barter for Princess Faelynn’s hand. Weaving his magic, he establishes a weekly ball to court his intended. After six months of rejection, something must change. He never anticipated finding Princess Rayna in his castle disrupting his quiet life.

Will he change directions and acknowledge his heart before it is too late? Or will he live up to his reputation as the Dark King, shattering more than one happily ever after?

THE DARK KING AND THE ETERNAL DANCE is one of twelve short novels in A Villain's Ever After, a collection of stand-alone stories featuring villainous twists on some of your favorite classic fairy tales. Read the series in any order for magical adventures . . . and fall in love with villains as you've never seen them before. Who said villains can't have happily-ever-afters?