I actually don’t know much of fairy tales past the ones that Disney has engraved on popular culture, but I actually ran into “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” in the webcomic Erstwhile a year or so ago, which was just long enough to forget some of the details before reading Jessica Day George’s more romantic adaptation.

There’s an honest soldier, and a strangely helpful witch, and a mysterious curse, and all the other hallmarks of a classic fairy tale. There’s also enough room to develop some characters, and a well executed plot. While fairy tales have a habit of things ‘just happening’, that isn’t the case here. George has thought the story out, and it all hangs together with a fairly rigorous logic. (With one exception. And she presumably knew more than she was telling.) This is a around a late grade-school level book, and is still a fairly simple story, but still novel length and engagingly written. It’s also a… nicer version than the traditional ones, as it uses an external villain in place of the princesses. In a way, the story has been ‘Disneyfied’ by this treatment, but I have to say it also makes more sense this way.

I first discovered Jessica Day George just about a year ago, and this book is another reason why I’m happy I did.