(I remember seeing a live action presentation of this. Maybe it was Masterpiece Theater or something like that? We got it from the library on good old VHS. I've been poking all around the internet for it but haven't found anything. Mystery!) Update! Tip of the hat goes to Katie who mentioned that it sounded like The Dancing Princesses from Faerie Tale Theatre which it totally is AND IT'S ON HULU. Oh my gosh you guys, it's a mid eighties delight. There's a ton of famous people in them too but they are intensely 80s. I will spend the rest of the day watching these and hoping I don't get fired for reliving my childhood.Also the prince is Peter Weller aka ROBOCOP! (I'm like I recognize this guy's voice, who the eff is this guy. Oh, it's robocop, nbd)
The story is based in a poor kingdom where there king and queen have 12 daughters. The queen loves gardening so all of the girls are named after plants. They are: Azalea, Bramble, Clover, Delphinium, Eve(ning Primrose), Flora and Goldenrod (twins!), Hollyhock, Ivy, Jessamine, Kale (hahahahaha), and Lily. (PHEW!) The king is a little bit distant,but the girls all love the queen, even though she's often bedridden and ill. (Could it be because she has had 12 kids between a newborn and about 17? Good freaking gracious.)
A tragedy upends the family, and Azalea (also our narrator) finds herself in charge of her 11 sisters and the crumbling palace that they call home. Since they are broke and in mourning she tries to entertain her sisters with stories of a distant ancestor who dabbled in magic. He went mad and was overthrown but little pockets of magic remain around the palace and in a few objects. Specifically, there's a sassy tea set that gives everyone trouble. (I think it's kind of like Chip from Beauty and the Beast going through his jerk teenage years).
They come fae to face with some of this leftover magic when they find a secret passage through the fireplace in their room. (Yes, their room. All of them share a room. Even though they live in a palace, although it's a crappy sounding one). The secret passage leads deep beneath the palace, where they finally emerge into an amazing silver forest. In the middle of this forest sits a lovely pavillion, perfect for dancing and music from an invisible orchestra starts to play. The girls suddenly realize they aren't alone, there is a man with them. He says he is the Keeper and that he tried to start a rebellion against the mad, magical king who banished him here to this enchanted spot.
The girls spend night after night returning to the pavilion to dance, wearing their slippers out every night. Their father is suspicious of their activities but the girls swore an oath "on silver" to not tell their father about their nocturnal activities. Everything is wonderful for a time but then the Keeper tells them he needs something from them and things get sinister...
Among this main storyline there is romance, danger, and the looming responsibilities of Azalea having to marry and run the kingdom.
My main qualm with the story was that there were just so many characters! Not that you can blame the author for trying to stick with the original tale, but yeesh! It might be a weird thing to say but I liked that the kingdom was broke. Stories of princesses in regal beautiful places are common but a group of 12 princesses trying to scrap by was more interesting. It also made the girls' fears of being forced into loveless marriages just to bring the kingdom some cash more realistic.
It's an entertaining, light but just different enough story to be interesting. There's some plot holes but no one reads these types of books for their air tight plots, right? 3.5 stars out of 5!
Click here to go over to Traveling with T to see my guest post that goes up today!