The Firethorn Crown (Firethorn Chronicles I)

Young Adult

FANTASY/FAIRYTALE:  Lily is Crown Princess of Ituria, the eldest of twelve.  Since her 21st birthday, she’s been expected to choose her future husband, wading through a sea of aggressive suitors, and knowing the man she wants she can’t have.  When she and her sisters stumble across a secret passageway in the garden leading to an underground kingdom, they fall under a curse that means she cannot speak until she chooses the man she loves and is loved in return. Each night, the twelve princesses must return to dance the night away with the most persistent suitor of all, the cursed sorcerer prince who won’t take Lily’s rejection for an answer.

Ms. Doue’ retells the Grimm fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” with panache and emotional relevance to captivate novices to the original and those who cherish it. Each sister is well-developed and distinct, making them feel like real characters. Lily’s anguish and determination to protect her sisters and their camaraderie and love for each other is heart-warming.  The secondary characters include young men who have intriguing chemistry with a few older sisters, including Eben, Lily’s longtime friend and captain of the guard--seemingly out of reach for a crown princess. Enthralling descriptions of the magical underground and the beautiful gowns the sisters wear each night are sure to appeal to readers. The story does seem to stumble near its climax as the story falls prey to overused young adult romantic angst, but otherwise, this is a very well-done fantasy romance. 

Danielle Hill