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The Thirteenth Princess
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The Thirteenth Princess (Fairy Tale Princesses)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  3,003 ratings  ·  299 reviews
Zita is not an ordinary servant girl—she's the thirteenth daughter of a king who wanted only sons. When she was born, Zita's father banished her to the servants' quarters to work in the kitchens, where she can only communicate with her royal sisters in secret.

Then, after Zita's twelfth birthday, the princesses all fall mysteriously ill. The only clue is their strangely wor...more
Hardcover, 243 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by HarperCollins (first published August 25th 2009)
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The story of the twelve dancing princesses isn't one of the most popular fairy-tales to be retold (i.e. Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty) but definitely isn’t one of the most neglected either. This take on it adds a thirteenth princess which was appealing to me. Zita is also a servant while her sisters are just regular princesses-until the enchantment starts taking its toll on them.

The book had the same feel of the Once Upon a Time Series books; the writing style of it anyway....more
Aug 06, 2010 Cara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cara by: Valerie
I have come to realize that I will always read fairy tales. It's what I always reach for when I need a comfort read. They are all almost easy to read and sweep you away with their magic. That's why these stories stand the test of time.

People know the story of the twelve dancing princesses, but do they really know the whole story? The answer would be no. Unbeknownest to most people there was a thirteenth princess named Zita. Zita is named after the saint of servants, and unlike her other sisters...more
So, I went to the local Barnes and Noble to use a gift card that I got for Christmas (this was actually quite characteristically
unlike me to be using a gift card so soon after receival. I'm lazy. And forgetful.) mainly for the purpose to purchase House of Many Ways by Diana Wynn Jones. But of course, who can resist the urge in a big book store to look at every interesting looking book that you pass? I wasn't having much luck in the Young Adult/Teenager section, as it seems almost every book ther...more
Also here:

This story is all about Zira, who finds out that she is the thirteenth princess. She is the one who can save her sisters when the princesses all fall ill. Together with Breckin, Babette en Milek, Zira must try to find a way to break the curse before it is too late.

Zira is raised in the kitchen by Cook, until she finds out that she is no servant girl. In fact, she is the thirteenth princess and that's a nice suprise for her.

Aurelia is...more
I love "novelized" fairy tales, written from an alternative perspective. This was a good effort at retelling the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Zita is the 13th child, banished to the servants quarters after queen dies giving birth to her. The king had been deeply in love and happy with his queen until she started producing only girls. After 12, he was done with her and then an experience with a neighboring monarch - one with four sons - prompts him to invade his wife's chambers, demanding a son. Th...more
Eva Mitnick
Most people who have enjoyed fairy tale-based fantasies by Gail Carson Levine, Donna Jo Napoli, and others will find this a pleasant and well-written diversion. Although not as funny as Levine's tales or as psychologically insightful as Napoli's, there is plenty of substance here. Zita is as plucky a heroine as one could want, yet her father's failure to love her fills her with both puzzlement and despair. The twelve princesses remain unsurprisingly interchangeable, for the most part, but their...more
This story does not seem like its title. It’s not all about fairy god mother, or seven dwarfs. It’s a story that includes magic, weird dreams, and a witch. There are also Kings, Queens, Princesses, And Prince’s. The setting takes place in a royal palace, and a wonderful kingdom. The King of this wonderful Kingdom marries a wonderful Queen. The Queens name is Amara. The King loves her so much that he decides to name all there children with the first initial “A.” When the 12th princess comes, the...more
I love this book with a passion and fervor that maybe only a book read during a cold could provide. I've spent the past four hours curled up under a pashmina, utterly charmed by this fairy tale. I was a little hesitant to read this so early in my Cybils work, since the cover has more sparkles on it than a Blingee. Seriously, this is one of the poorest covers I've come across this year. It doesn't do the middle grade market any justice by going for a cartoony effect and it doesn't match Zahler's...more
This book is supposedly written for 8-12 year-olds, but I found it highly enjoyable and some themes like spurned love, lost love, and grappling for love are quite mature for an 8 year old. The book is based on the Grimm Fairytale of the 12 Dancing Princesses -- twelve sisters who dance every night in an enchanted realm. That much is true in the story too, but the author adds a lot more to the story by adding a 13th sister who is banished to the servant's quarters because of her mother the Queen'...more
This is exactly the type of book I've been looking for to recommend to my 10 year old daughter!! Well written, with just enough puzzle and just enough clues for her age to figure out. A good tale of making friends and overcoming your own fears, and a fresh looki at an old fairy tale to boot! What I really liked, is that even though it does end with a "Happily Ever After" it wasn't PERFECT. There is still a bit of heartache and a good reminder that life isn't fair, and nothing wraps up perfectly,...more
Lisa the Librarian
This is my favorite expanded retelling of a classic fairy tale since Ella Enchanted. Very well done and enchanting story based on a bit lesser know tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

The storyteller is Zita, the thirteenth and yongest sister of the famed dancers. She has a clear and honest voice. Zita is a very likeable character. She handles her life challenges with dignity, grace and courage. With lots of plot twists this is a well told story that keeps the pages turning.

The copy I read was a...more
JoAnna Burris-Vea
This was a great twist on the 12 Dancing Princesses fairy tale. Zita, the unexpected and unwanted 13th daughter of the king and queen, finds out her name means "seeker," which she lives up to in this book. She seeks out her true parentage, which she didn't know for the first several years of her life. She also seeks out and finds the love of her sisters, then seeks a way to save her sisters from the curse of being forced to dance all night, every night. Mingled with all this there is a little ro...more
Jul 17, 2014 Melissa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I just love a good, sweet, clean fairy tale retelling. This was the 12 dancing princesses retold with a couple other elements of other fairy tales. What I loved most about this story was the main character Zita. She was sweet and strong and carried the story well. I loved the description of the castle and the mold and dampness. This was a fun quick read for girls 10 and up.
Re-read 7-2014 Read to my girls 16 to 5. The 5 year old had a hard time and the 8 year old needed some explanation but overa...more
Aug 13, 2012 Elevetha rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of fairytales retold, reimagined, or twisted on it's side
A retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. What if there were 13 not 12 princesses? What if her mother died at childbirth, having the thirteenth princess and the king was so devastated he never wanted to see her. What if one of them grew up as a servant watching her sisters from the kitchen? What she found out and realized she had to help save the family she never knew she had? I loved how the writing flowed. I loved how her 12 sisters took her in as their sister right away and were so sweet...more
Evelyn Ink
I love books based on Fairytales and this is another great classic retold with several fun twists. The lovely cover art and descriptive narrative all add to the magic of the book.

Unfortunately, the characters do not come through as strong as I would have liked. Besides the eldest, all the sisters just kind of blend together (I do realize getting to know twelve individual sisters would be a waste of valuable plot time, but they do come across rather clone like).

The Father character is difficult t...more
Clare Cannon
A fairytale retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses from the perspective of little Zita, the thirteenth princess, who has been banished to the kitchen and lives as a servant. A nice enough story with no real surprises, though there are a couple of inappropriate allusions that will hopefully go unnoticed by most young readers.
Ashlee Willis
A very enchanting retelling of the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." Zahler's style is simple and refreshing. I love the angle she gives the story with the unknown 13th princess narrating the tale of her older sisters. Great read for anyone who loves fairytales!
Cute 3.5 stars reselling of the old fairytale, that was pleasant if a trifle, but relegated the title character too often to an observer of the action.
Shani Soloff
excellent YA novel, intriguing and riveting. did not want to put it down start to finish, i was completely captivated by the tale.
Jennifer Humphreys
A great retelling of my favorite fairy tale. I would actually put this on a par with Princess of the Midnight Ball, which is one of the best young adult novels I've read in years. In this version, there is a thirteenth daughter, Zita. This youngest of the family has been left to live as one of the servants since her mother passed away giving birth to her. Because she isn't treated as a princess of the realm, she escapes the curse that falls on her other sisters. I love that (view spoiler)...more
The Winter Rose
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brandy Painter
Review originally posted here

The Thirteenth Princess reads with the charm and magic of the original fairy tale. All of the original components are here, including the lowly soldier who finally breaks the spell. The twist in this tale of the added princess gives the story a little more hint of desperation. If Zita loses her sisters she will have no family to speak of. There are a couple of other twists in the tale that make it different enough from the original while still maintaining the well kn...more
The Thirteenth Princess is a captivating rethinking of The Twelve Dancing Princesses tale. Zahler skillfully combines the old fairy tale with new material to make the story seem fresh. Think you know the tale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses? Well, think again.

From the get go, this novel held my attention with its flowing writing and detailed scenery. I could easily picture this breathtaking world that Zahler has created. The plot flowed along at a nice even pace with plenty of interesting chara...more
The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler is a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses (and yes, this is probably the fifth retelling of this tale that I've read, I can't get enough). In this retelling the star is Zita, the thirteenth princess who was raised as a servant after her mother died during her childbirth. Zita has to solve the mystery of her sister's illness and has a little romance on the side as she grows up.

I loved this retelling. It was sweet and romantic (in a way that was very appro...more
Madigan McGillicuddy
Zahler treats us to a retelling of the classic fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, by adding an intrepid and plucky younger sister for them. In a tiny kingdom, a jealous and suspicious king has outright banned magic, hoping to avoid the sorts of curses that other royal families are frequently subjected to. I could barely keep the girls straight in my head - they have no real personality. Aurelia, Alanna, Ariadne, Althea, Adena, Asenka, Amina, Alima, Akila, Allegra, Asmita, Anisa. They ar...more
Kathy (Kindle-aholic)
Zita is the 13th princess - her sisters are the more famous 12 Dancing Princesses. Raised as a servant, due to her father's rage at being left a widower with no sons, Zita lives between the royal world and the servants. Her identity is an open secret, and once she learns it, she is able to connect with her sisters. Her love for her family, even her father who has never shown her love, leads her to take action when her sisters start falling ill from a mysterious exhaustion. Her friendship with th...more
Miss Clark
May 04, 2010 Miss Clark rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of fairytales and retellings
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
- I admit to judging this book by it's cover. I saw it sitting on the shelf at the library, and I was like "oh pretty!" I took it home, but it didn't disappoint.

- This was a really fun and cute re-telling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

- I love the cover!! The art is fantastic, and I love the colors. I also love how the title is big and pretty.

- I really enjoyed this twist on the tale. It was different from all the others I've read.

- I really liked Zita. She was a fun character, and I almost...more
Jocelyn Koehler
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Things I Liked:
This is a sweet and original retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale. I liked how the first half of the book was focused more on introducing us to Zita her life than the usual story line. It gave us some nice background information on the family and on her personality before we even got to that familiar story of enchantment. It had a lot of fun details from the castle on the lake to the stable boy. This is a nice introduction for tweens and younger girls to fairy tal...more
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I grew up reading children's books and never wanted to do anything but write them. Then I got a contract for THE THIRTEENTH PRINCESS and A TRUE PRINCESS, and then PRINCESS OF THE WILD SWANS and SLEEPING BEAUTY'S DAUGHTERS. Magic does happen! I live in the country with my husband in what is aptly nicknamed the Bug House. Visit my website at

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“Boys were so proud - you always had to let them think they were good at things.” 23 likes
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