Book Review: The Thirteenth Princess (by Diane Zahler)

The Twelve Dancing Princess
The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler is a book I recommend to any lover of fairytales. It is a retelling of the classic story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. This has been one of my favorite fairytales for some years, although I’m also aware it’s not necessarily one of the best known ones. But if you’re like me, you love discovering those little gems that are not so mainstream – not so faddish – and all the more charming for it.

Zahler tells the story in first person, from the viewpoint of the heretofore unknown thirteenth princess – the youngest sister of the famous twelve princesses. Her father the king, bitter after the successive birth of twelve girls, banishes Zita, his thirteenth child, who is not the son he was hoping for. She is sent to live among the servants of the castle, not aware she is even the daughter of the king, sister to the beautiful princesses, until she is 12, which is when the story begins.6295173

Zita has personality, she has depth, she has fears and longings – everything a heroine should have, in fact. Eventually, she finds she possesses bravery as well, which comes in handy as she follows her sisters into a deep and strong enchantment cast over them by a mysterious magic. She, her friend Breckin, his handsome older brother Milek (who just happens to have an eye for the oldest princess), and the friendly witch Babette, all embark together on a quest to disenchant the princesses, whose nightly forays into the world of magic are wearing them thin and even threatening their lives.

Zahler keeps all the old enchantment of the classic tale in her retelling while adding her own voice to the story, with a couple of thrilling twists – one heartbreaking, the other joyous. She reaches deeper into her main characters’ personalities than many middle grade and young adult books I have read of late, and on that basis alone I would recommend this book.

Head to the library and check it out – then let me know what you think! I dare you to dislike this one!

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About AshleeW

Reader and writer of fairytales and fantasy, walker in the woods, studier of people, believer of mercy and peace, mother, wife and child of God.

Posted on July 10, 2013, in books, Fairy Tales, fantasy, middle grade, princess, Reviews, teen, young adult and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I do believe I’ve seen this book at the library before. But I never began to read it. I’ll have to put it on my to-read list. Thanks! By the way, have you reviewed the book Storybound (its recent sequel is Story’s End)? I’m currently reading the second one (nearly can’t put it down) and thought it’s something you might be interested in. (:

    • I have heard of Storybound and you are right…! It’s definitely one I want to read! Didn’t know it had a sequel though…that’s fun 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion!

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