The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler

Summary:  The thirteenth daughter to a king who only wanted a son, Zita works in the kitchen as a servant so her father never has to remember the night she was born—and her mother died.  Her twelve sisters live as royalty upstairs, forbidden to communicate with Zita.  When the twelve princesses mysteriously fall ill, however, only the kitchen girl recognizes an enchantment as the cause.  Aided by a stable boy and a soldier, Zita will risk her life to save her family and prove that love truly can conquer all.  A retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”

 Review:  Though written for children, The Thirteenth Princess promises to engage readers of all ages with its lighthearted tone and cheerful protagonist.  The story contains few surprises and minimal character development, but this will not deter readers who understand both the reading level and the genre.  Fairy tales, after all, have power not because they contain a plethora of plot twists, but because they remind the audience that good can indeed triumph over evil.  Zahler’s story works perfectly as a retelling in that it sustains the simplicity of this truth even as it fleshes out the original tale with more defined characters and a more extensive back story.  Zahler will surely continue to enchant with future retellings.

 Published: 2010

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