THE THIRTEENTH PRINCESS is a re-telling of THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES. Set in a place which sounds vaguely German in a time that sounds vaguely like the Middle Ages, we meet Zita, the charming and delightful heroine of this tale. Red-haired Zita is the youngest (and 13th) daughter of the King. But he banishes his daughter to the kitchens because her birth caused the death of his beloved wife. Zita toils in the kitchens, learning to cook, and learning to hunt for plants that she needs for the dishes that Cook makes. Gradually, over the years, she learns that she is indeed a princess and sneaks visits to her 12 sisters, who allow her to sleep with them in their chamber.
In early adolescence she meets a boy of around her age, and a witch. At around this time, her twelve sisters begin to ail. They become pale, their slippers are in tatters and they sink into a near-coma. Zita is at her wit’s end. But with her courage and determination and the help of her friends everything ends on a mostly happy note.
Although the book has some weaknesses – the twelve princesses are almost identical and the ending is a bit perfunctory – nevertheless this is a fast, easy read that is sure to delight young girls. Four Stars.