The Thirteenth Princess
By Diane Zahler
Harper, 2010. 243 pp. Juvenile chapter book.
A sweet and gentle retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, this book was a delight to read. Little Zita is the youngest daughter of the king but works as a servant in the castle, not discovering her birthright until her thirteenth birthday. After this discovery, she begins a secret relationship with her sisters, the twelve older princesses, although still shunned by her father, who views her as his ultimate failure to produce a male heir. Zita becomes involved in what appears to be a strange enchantment that chains her sisters from speaking to suitors and is slowly draining them of their vitality every day. She determines to discover and break the spell that binds them. With the help of a kindly witch, a young stable boy, and his soldier brother, Zita undertakes the overwhelming challenge of rescuing her sisters from the clutches of their dark enchantment.
This is a lovely story that I truly enjoyed reading. Although it could have been improved with further character and plot development, it is still nicely written and a charming addition to the retold fairy tales for children. Young girls who enjoy fantasy and princess stories will love this book, and I'm glad to find another story to recommend in this genre!