Reviewed June 23, 2010.
Bloomsbury, New York, 2010. 266 pages.
I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Jessica Day George. Princess of Glass is a follow up to her excellent Princess of the Midnight Ball, but it's also an incredibly creative twist on the story of Cinderella.
I thought that the Cinderella story has been rewritten so well so many different ways, there was not much more that could be done with it. Though I must admit all the versions I've read are among my favorite fairy tale retellings: Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine, Bella at Midnight, by Diane Stanley, and Just Ella, by Margaret Peterson Haddix.
Jessica Day George does something quite different with the story and wonderfully creative, using the version where Cinderella attends three balls. What if the godmother were really an evil witch bent on entrapping Cinderella for her own evil purposes? What if the prince and all the people at the ball were affected by an enchantment and falling in love with Cinderella despite their true feelings?
Finally, what if a princess who had experience with evil enchantments and how to protect against them was at the court and was falling in love with the prince herself?
The main character of the book is Poppy, one of the younger of the 12 Dancing Princesses featured in Princess of the Midnight Ball. After so many princes suffered fatal accidents trying to break their family's enchantment, the king tries to build bridges by sending some daughters to foreign courts.
Poppy is a delightfully independent young lady. When she notices strange things going on around Eleanora, a clumsy servant girl from an impoverished family, she determines to get to the bottom of it. I like the way she's still knitting charms to help, which she learned from her brother-in-law.
The author includes two knitting patterns at the end, one for the poppy-decorated shawl Poppy wears to a ball. My only complaint is that I wish there were a picture. I'm going to have to make one to see what it looks like!
I found it ingenious how Jessica Day George wove in all the motifs of the Cinderella story (except maybe the stepsisters) in a way so completely different than I'd ever thought of them before. Brilliant!
I can't help but hope that more stories will be forthcoming about some of the other 12 princesses and their adventures in other foreign lands.