Fairy Tale & Myth Connections

Fairy Tale Connections #1: “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”

5/5 Stars

Author: The Grimm Brothers

Publisher/Imprint: Grosset & Dunlap

Edition: Illustrated Junior Library Edition, Hardcover, 363 Pages

Publication Date: October 17, 1995

A Spine that Shines? Quite Well!

So the King sent out a proclamation saying that anyone who could discover where the princesses did their night’s dancing might choose one of them to be his wife and should reign after his death.

Grimm Brothers, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”

Summary & Overall Thoughts

Good morning! Happy Thursday! I’ve decided to try something slightly different today. This is not a review of an entire book, but rather of one short story in the Grimm Brothers’ collection of fairy tales.

I’m planning to call this group of posts “Fairy Tale Connections,” because I have a specific purpose for them. Lately, much of the YA market has comprised retellings based on older fairy tales or legends. And I love this current trend! It made me realize that I haven’t actually read many of the original tales that pertain to these YA retellings. But I love fairy tales, so I have decided to try reading some of the originals beforehand in order to be able to better “connect” them with the new retellings. I think it will be quite interesting to see the differences and similarities, how an author chooses to apply the original fairy tale to a retelling. Do you ever do any kind of “research” before reading a novel? Well, this is my version of “research.”

House of Salt and Sorrows, by Erin A. Craig, is the next YA retelling on my TBR list, and it is based on “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” fairy tale. So I read the short fairy tale last night and made some notes. One of the first things to notice is that the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales are not the happy children’s stories they are often made out to be by companies like Disney. But don’t get me wrong. I still love those Disney movie versions!

The overall story of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” goes like this:

  • A king has twelve beautiful daughters whom he locks in their bedroom at night. (Why? Who knows?)
  • But in the morning, all of the girls’ shoes have been “danced to pieces.” (So where did they disappear to and do all of this dancing?)
  • The king declares that any man who can discover where the princesses go at night within three days/nights may choose one of the king’s daughters to marry and take his place as king after his death.
  • BUT if the suitor fails, it’s off with his head!
  • Of course, the first prince to arrive fails after drinking drugged wine and falling asleep each night. And all the others after him fail, too.
  • But along comes a poor and wounded soldier. He takes the challenge after an old woman (because there’s almost always an “old crone” figure, right?) warns him not to drink the evening wine and gives him a magic cloak to make him invisible. He now has three nights/days to succeed, or else lose his head.
  • So the soldier follows the woman’s instructions and pretends to be asleep as the princesses sneak away. There is an underground passageway of some sort hidden beneath one of the princesses’ beds, and he follows them down.
  • He spies on the the princesses as they meet with twelve princes who take them across the lake in twelve boats to reach the underground dancing castle.
  • After bringing back physical proof from those three nights, the soldier succeeds and chooses the eldest daughter to be his wife.

So, as you can see, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” is not a completely happy story. The soldier kept his head, but the eldest daughter was forced into a marriage. Who knows if she even wanted to get married? Plus, those other princes lost their heads! But this fairy tale is still considered a classic, and I really enjoyed the cleverness and magic of it. I am quite curious to see how Erin A. Craig applies it in House of Salt and Sorrows! Happy reading 🙂

Read in Preparation for House of Salt and Sorrows

Spines that Shine

3 thoughts on “Fairy Tale Connections #1: “The Twelve Dancing Princesses””

  1. Ah I love this idea (: I really want to read the original stories sometime too although I definitely agree that they do sound rather dark in places (when looking some up I learnt how Rumpelstiltskin ends). I’ll keep an eye out for other posts like this. And I look forward to reading your review for House Of Salt And Sorrows sometime too although I think I might wait until after I’ve had a chance to read it as I’m looking forward to it so much that I want to go into it knowing as little as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

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