It's no secret I love anything related to fairytales. From Disney to Angela Carter I can't get enough of these cautionary tales we're spoon fed from birth. One that only recently I've read a version of was The Twelve Dancing Princesses, in Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson of all places and I was captivated by that version. It's definitely in a similar vein as Angela Carter. When I saw that Jessie Burton. author of The Miniaturist and The Muse was turning her hand to children's fiction, and this particular story no less I had to get my hands on a copy.
When this appeared at work I squealed, rather high pitched and scared my colleague. A big thank-you to Bloomsbury for this one. Spoiler, I adored it.
I haven't yet read the original fairytale but I don't think it'll compare to how much I loved this. I devoured it in one sitting. The artwork is stunning, I'm going to have to look into Angela Barrett's work more. But the story. Oh the story. The sisters reminded me of the Twelve Muses, each had a particular interest be it astronomy, gardening or veterinary skills. Each was used throughout the story and valued more by the other characters than their beauty.
The story centres around the girls being forced to live in one room of the castle at the whim is their overprotective father, for his fear of them meeting a similar fate to his adventurous late wife. They find a way out of the castle to a palace that allows them to dance all night and therefore wear through their shoes. The only clue that they are somehow leaving. In his madness the King promises his crown and one of his daughters to the man that can solve the riddle of the shoes. But my god the ending was so good. Sister power to the max.
This is a beautiful reimagining of a fairytale that'd make a wonderful gift this christmas. Or just because.