Sunday, November 11, 2012

Twelve Dancing Princesses: Two Retellings

If you are going to write an updated version of the classic fairytale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" certain elements must be included:

1. twelve sisters

2. a missing mother

3. an unfeeling, unrelatable father (king) figure

4. an enclosed castle

5. an underworldlike, magical ballroom containing the elements of silver, gold and diamonds

7. worn out slippers

6. a soldier hero charged with the task of solving a riddle with the use of an invisible cloak

8. marriage as an end goal

If you are interested in what these symbols mean from a psychological perspective, read John Betts' essay "A Jungian Interpretation of Grimm's 'The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces'".

Both The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn and Entwined by Heather Dixon, incorporate all of these elements in their skillful, recent retellings of the classic story.

The stories are similiar in the way that they both are set long ago in a fairytale like kindgdom where at least the memory of magic is present and dangerous.

The Night Dance is set in the time of King Arthur, and the story includes familiar mythical characters such as the villianous Morgan Le Fay and the magical sword Excalibur. The tone of the story has a romantic, fairytale like quality and while it is suspensful, it is not too scary.

In contrast, Entwined feels slightly more gothic as its villian "The Keeper" comes across as decidedly creepy and dangerous.

Both authors do a successful job of taking an old tale and telling it in a new way

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