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The Thirteenth Princess (Fairy Tale Princesses)

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,478 Ratings  ·  354 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
Hardcover, 243 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by HarperCollins (first published August 25th 2009)
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Jan 12, 2016 Valerie rated it liked it
Shelves: retellings, fantasy
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.
A poorly characterized and poorly plotted retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" told from the point of view of their little thirteenth sister - who was a kitchen maid in her family's castle.

Zita is treated more like Cinderella than a princess yet didn't seem to mind - which I find wildly implausible. Her father, who has exiled her to the kitchens, shows signs of loving her every now and again yet somehow never regrets his decision and never invites her back upstairs to live with her siste
Aug 06, 2010 Cara rated it really liked it
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
Mar 07, 2010 Hope rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mel (Daily Prophecy)
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
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
Dec 28, 2010 nicole rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, cybils
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
The Winter Rose
Apr 12, 2010 The Winter Rose rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-grade
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 19, 2010 Ryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 13, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 01, 2012 Melodee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 13, 2010 Lisa the Librarian rated it really liked it
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
Maybeline Tay
Apr 22, 2015 Maybeline Tay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting re telling of the 12 dancing princesses. This version includes a thirteenth princess and lots of magic.

JoAnna Smedley 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 really liked it  ·  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
Aug 13, 2012 Elevetha rated it liked it  ·  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
Lucy Busker
More serious and not as lively as The Wide-Awake Princess series, this is still a fairly enjoyable read. The "more serious" part is not a problem - in fact, I like my fairy tales darker. The "not as lively" part is. The premise - a king so enraged when his beloved wife dies giving birth to their thirteenth girl (and leaving no sons) that he banishes the child to the servants' quarters - is very intriguing, but the book takes it either too seriously (there is no humor or blackly funny over-the-to ...more
What can I say? I like the re-imagining of this story, and the spunky heroine. But Zita's identity is too one-dimensional. She finds out she's really a princess and she's happy? Even a kid would be confused and jealous and resentful, and suffer from issues of self-worth or want to be acknowledged. She would wonder why her father doesn't want her, and be jealous of her sisters, and resent the fact that she doesn't have their privileged life and that she still has to do all the chores even though ...more
Jan 30, 2015 Savannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fairytales-new
This was a really cute book. It had action, danger magic and even a dose of romance. The main character, Zita, is the thirteenth princess, having been relegated to live as a servant by her father after her mother dies while giving birth to her. That's not surprising though, seeing as her mother was barely in her twenties when she gave birth to Zita, her thirteenth child. Her father, while madly in love with his wife, was very frustrated with her as well, angry and disheartened by the fact that w ...more
Clare Cannon
May 03, 2011 Clare Cannon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 08-12yrs
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!
My 10 year old really liked this book, although I found it boring. Avoid this one as a read-aloud if you can, parents. But your little one will like it.
Meg McGregor
Feb 11, 2015 Meg McGregor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fairy-tales
I have always thought that: A book read once is an acquaintance, a book read twice becomes a friend; but, a book read three or more times, becomes a member of the family!

This is actually my second time reading this book, and I enjoyed it even more this time. If I could give it six stars, I would.

I have always loved the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and marveled at how well they dance as I literally have two left feet.

I enjoyed the idea of a thirteenth princess.

The story of how her sist
Mar 18, 2012 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-13-read
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.
Zita is the youngest sister of the 12 Dancing Princesses. She grows up raised by servants because her father blames her for the death of her mother. 12 years pass. Just as she begins to bond with her sisters, her sisters seem to be drawn under a powerful enchantment. But her father had banned all magic from the kingdom. Zita makes some friends, learns some magic, and saves her sisters.

This book started off in a mundane setting, but slowly added elements of magic and mystique until I was pretty
Shani Soloff
Nov 24, 2011 Shani Soloff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
excellent YA novel, intriguing and riveting. did not want to put it down start to finish, i was completely captivated by the tale.
Jan 25, 2016 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was okayyyy. I really don't understand the good reviews, actually. The plot is somewhat interesting, but it's told badly - moves either too fast (lack of character & plot development) or too slow ( is nothing happening?). Don't waste your time - there are so many better books. Even fairy tales. There's Cameron Dokey's once upon a time tales, Jessica Day George's princess of the midnight ball, Gail carson Levine's ella enchanted & princesses of bamarre, Shannon Hale's goos ...more
I love fairy tale retellings and had been looking forward to reading this book despite the fact that I knew it was targeted more towards Middle Grade or Childrens. I've always had fairly bad luck with Middle Grade and Childrens books, with few exceptions and am always a bit wary when it comes to reading books targeted to those age groups. But being a fairy tale retelling, I had hoped I'd at least enjoy it for that much.

I had a hard time getting into The Thirteenth Princess, however, and while th
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What kind of father is like that? 1 9 Jan 20, 2015 07:54AM  
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I grew up reading children's books and never wanted to do anything but write them. I'm the author of THE THIRTEENTH PRINCESS, A TRUE PRINCESS, PRINCESS OF THE WILD SWANS, SLEEPING BEAUTY'S DAUGHTERS, and my newest, BAKER'S MAGIC. I live in the country with my husband in what is aptly nicknamed the Bug House. Visit my website at

More about Diane Zahler...

Other Books in the Series

Fairy Tale Princesses (4 books)
  • A True Princess
  • Princess of the Wild Swans
  • Sleeping Beauty's Daughters

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