By E. D. Phillips
Available on Amazon
When Prince Sheridan discovers the two princesses wandering the woods outside the castle at night, he begins to wonder if there is more to Phaedra's curse than is readily apparent.
With the help of a minstrel out to prove a point, they must discover the secret before the princesses are trapped forever in the night.
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I needn't have worried. After putting off reading for nearly two months, I sat down and read it in three sittings, in less than twenty-four hours. It isn't a long book, but I haven't been in a reading mood these last few weeks, and it takes a good book to keep me interested. I'm happy to report that Midnight Captive was one. Even in the darkest moments of the story, light shone through, and the effect was beautiful.
Of the three stories it retold, The Pied Piper remained the most intact, as the book was actually more a sequel to the tale. The other two were blended together, twisted by the Piper's strange magic and whims. Every night he summons the two princesses to dance with him from midnight to early morning, and neither can say a word about it during the daylight hours. Phaedra, because she sleeps though the whole day, Hermione, because she gets faint, or even sick when she tries to confess.
Princes have been coming from throughout the land in attempt to awaken the sleeping Phaedra, but few even suspect that Hermione is also caught by the curse. Prince Sheridan only realizes it because he sees them on their way back one morning, and Alyn, the minstrel, has his suspicions roused by Hermione's hatred of music.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book, it twisted beautifully, and I honestly had no idea where it was going when I first opened it (partly because I had forgotten the description, other than the fact that it was about Sleeping Beauty and involved a few other tales). Even though it blatantly stepped away from the plots of both Sleeping Beauty and the Twelve Dancing Princesses by the end, I still quite enjoyed it, because at its heart, it was a sequel to the Pied Piper. I quite enjoyed the nods to a few other tales, in particular Cinderella and Rapunzel. And I'm quite sure that Alyn the minstrel was inspired by Allan-a-Dale from Robin Hood's Merry Men.
However this was the author's first book, and a NaNo novel (as the acknowledgement implies), and it showed. The conversations could be brilliant, but sometimes they became redundant, as could the internal monologues. Hermione had to describe in great detail every dress she wore - which was possibly interesting if you're a dressmaker or fashionista - but I'm not. Some of the plot could have been strengthened, and there were a few plot elements, that, though they were brilliant, could have either left out and the story not missed them, or should have been mentioned sooner.
Also, I would have liked to see a bit of closure for the romance. It was well done, and I really liked the emphasis on sacrifice, but there wasn't any closure.
But I don't hold any of that against this lovely story. Indeed, I'd recommend it to pretty much anyone who loves fairy tale retellings. It's not something I'd read aloud to my younger siblings, but it's certainly something I would have adored as a younger teen.
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at
Hermione sometimes throws up after attempting to tell others about the midnight escapades. Violence-wise, it's pretty clean until right at the end, which involves battles with harpies and the pied piper himself.