by Heather Dixon
Legend has it that generations before, the High King had been a villainous man who had magicked the castle and trapped the souls of his victims in mirrors where they would slowly freeze to death. Now, in Azalea's time, remnants of the High King's magic linger in the occasional tea set and carpet. It also lingers in the hidden passages, including the one in Azalea's room.
Now that her mother has passed away, Azalea is in charge of her eleven sisters and must keep their spirits up even while the king has gone into mourning and shut the girls away in the palace. They are forbidden every joy, even dancing.
But at night, the girls take their secret passage to the silver forest where they happily dance until their dancing slippers fall apart.
They've taken an oath and cannot tell the king, but he is determined to find out where they go. He sets up a contest for the eligible gentlemen to solve the riddle of the damaged slippers.
Could it all be too late?
Final thoughts: A retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale "12 Dancing Princesses", this one is slow to start, but really gets rolling about a quarter of the way through. The king's bad temper is very difficult to fathom in the beginning, but his change of heart seems well written. Some of the story's points seemed obvious, but older girls and young teens, especially those who haven't read the story before, will enjoy discovering the secrets. I loved Lord Bradford and really wish I could have seen more of him. Azalea was strong and clever, so I never got tired of reading from her point of view. I only wish the time period had been a little more detailed. It felt like it was supposed to be set during a kind of industrial revolution for this fairy tale land, but I had a difficult time relating to it because I just couldn't picture it. Of course, that may be my fault since I kept picturing stone castles and the author referred to new and improved steam train technology.