THE MIDNIGHT DANCERS is a retelling of THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES set in contemporary times. Paul is a soldier who saves an older man’s life in a situation that sounds just like the recent war in Iraq or Afghanistan. Grateful, the older man asks him to come visit whenever he is in town. He reveals that he has six daughters and six step-daughters, and is worried about them. He wonders whether Paul, a young man, would be willing to help. Paul makes a promise to do what he can.

The rest of the story is told from the point-of-view of Rachel, the eldest daughter. We see 17-year-old Rachel cooking and cleaning, child-minding, aided by her sisters and step-sisters. The parents are religious and strict and every day disappears into a sea of domestic chores. Of course, the girls feel restless. Of course, they would like some fun.

Things begin to happen when one of the sisters discovers a secret passageway that leads to some stairs descending to a private beach. From there, the sister see an enticing island. They manage to persuade some local boys to bring them over in boats, where they meet a mysterious young man named Michael. But what does Michael want?

And that is as far as I will go with the plot, so as not to spoil it for everyone. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this story, because the beginning of it is cluttered up with everyday triviality which makes it seem superficial. In fact, this novel has unexpected depths to it, so if the beginning puts you off, my advice is to persevere. You won’t be disappointed. 4 stars.