Thirteen year- old Reveka is new to the kingdom of Sylvania where she is apprenticed to the local herbalist while her father works at the palace. Shortly after her arrival Reveka learns about the Prince's daughters, who are under a mysterious curse that leaves their feet bloody and blistered each morning. No one know what goes on each night behind the locked doors to princess's rooms and anyone who attempts to find out ends up in a deep sleep from which they never wake up, except for those who disappear completely. Many princes have arrived in Sylvanie in the hope of breaking the curse and marrying a princess, but they are never heard from again, leading to political tension and distrust between the kingdoms.
When Reveka learns about the generous reward being offered to whoever can break the spell, she becomes determined to be the one to accomplish this challenge. With the money from the reward Reveka can gain some independence and build an herbary of her very own. Though when Reveka discovers that her friend's mother is one of the sleepers, and that she will die if not awakened soon, her struggle to find the cure takes on a new urgency. Reveka will do whatever it takes to save the lives of the innocent bystanders caught up in the spell, even if it means sacrificing herself to the frightening creature behind it all.
If you haven't already guessed it, The Princess Curse is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, with a young girl as the protagonist. For the most part, the story stays true to the original fairy-tale, until Reveka solves the mystery, at which point some elements of Beauty and the Beast creep in. The combination works well together though due to Revek's young age there is only a hint of romance and the promise that it will develop more fully once Reveka is a bit older.
I'm not usually tempted into reading Middle Grade books but I just couldn't resist trying this one out when I saw it at the library, and I'm glad that I did. Even though it was a bit younger in tone than what I usually read I didn't have any trouble getting caught up in the story and I fully enjoyed spending time with its smart and feisty heroine.
Once I finished The Princess Curse I rushed online to see if the sequel was available yet but unfortunately it seems that it's not even a work in progress. This was very disappointing as The Princess Curse begs for a sequel and I'm really looking forward to meeting an older Reveka, and for that promised romance...
But Ms. Haskell does have another book scheduled to be released next year which takes place in the same world and which has a very enticing title, Handbook for Dragon Slayers. It sounds like fun, and given how much I enjoyed The Princess Cure, I will undoubtedly be picking it up.