By Heather Dixon
Random House/Listening Library, 2011. 10 sound discs (ca. 71 min. each). Teen fiction
When the queen dies, the king puts the entire household into mourning. His twelve daughters, who love to dance, are determined to find a way to keep dancing, and magic allows them a way. They find a secret passage to a forest where they can dance. However, the Keeper there seems to have dark secrets, and Azalea, the oldest of the princesses, must find a way to free her family from his grasp before it's too late.
I like the setting and the world described in this story, as well as the language (although I got really, really tired of the words skirts, crinolines, and cravat by the end of the book), but I had a harder time with the plot and the characters. I guess my main problem is that I was never really sold on the girls' need to dance. Keeper is creepy, and I don't understand why they ignored that to go dancing. Maybe someone who dances would understand, and I don't, but honestly, where's their sense of self-preservation? Or common sense? Or any inkling that they might be in danger? Since I didn't buy the need to dance, that made it hard for me to get into the rest of the story, because (for a disbelieving reader like me), they either seem really dumb (which doesn't endear them to me) or really young (which makes it hard to accept that the three oldest have romantic entanglements, because they seem too young and therefore the gentlemen pursuing them seem icky for pursuing them and gives the reader an unsettled feeling during the reading). I wonder if I would have liked the book better than the sound recording; although the narrator was good, the sheer time it takes to listen to a book (instead of being able to breeze through reading it in a matter of hours) gave me lots of time to notice and ponder things I didn't like, whereas if I'd read it, maybe I would have been more swept into the story.
3 stars. Clean read.