I've been searching for a good 12 Dancing Princesses retelling. I loved Wildwood Dancing and it's a fairy tale you can take in so many directions. The Princess Curse is an interesting blend of the 12 Princesses, Beauty and the Beast and the story of Persephone. It isn't the totally amazing retelling I was hoping for, but, despite its flaws, I liked it. (The nice cover art doesn't hurt either.)
What I liked:
- I like that the author draws out the dark, Persephone undertones in this twist on the 12 Dancing Princesses. The Greek elements work pretty well.
- The protagonist, Reveka, has future aspirations beyond what is usual for her station, but she is also practical and aware of her likely future. Overall, she is believable for the era/world created.
- The ending is not a clean cut happily ever after. It's kind of opened ended. It closes off this story arc and hints toward a happy-ish future, but it also leaves room for a sequel, although none seems to be in the works.
What I didn't like:
- The plot/pacing is a little sluggish at the beginning and through the middle. Then it suddenly picks up and progresses quickly. A faster start and more consistent pacing would keep the book from dragging here and there.
- I realize this is technically a MG book, but it's definitely upper-MG. Which is why I was irked that most of the side characters are a little simple, a bit one-dimensional. It's a short book; I know there's limited time. But the slower spots could have been put to better use fleshing out some of the cast.
- The ending feels rushed. It doesn't go into the multiple layers and detail I'd have liked; and while the open ended finale is good in some ways, I would have liked a little more closure on this story.
It's not the greatest fairy tale retelling out there, and Reveka is not the most likable protagonist in the world; but it's a quick read with a bit of magic and fewer easy outs than typical MG fairy tales. If you're looking for a quick bite of fantasy, this should do the trick.