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The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  4,243 ratings  ·  838 reviews
From award-winning author Genevieve Valentine, a "gorgeous and bewitching" (Scott Westerfeld) reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as flappers during the Roaring Twenties in Manhattan.

Jo, the firstborn, "The General" to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, t
Hardcover, 277 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Atria Books
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  4,243 ratings  ·  838 reviews

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Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of fairy tales, sister bonds, coming of age
Retelling something as familiar as a fairy tale can be a risky proposition. In some cases, magic can come out of the details as an author elaborates on a classic. For instance, I happen to love Robin McKinley’s book Beauty, a take on the old tale “Beauty and the Beast.” On the other hand, when she re-told the story again twenty years later in Rose Daughter, I didn’t care for it at all. So I brought few expectations to my reading of The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, a retelling of the fairy tale ...more
Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I did like this book. I have had a review copy of this book for a very long time and I have to admit that I didn't remember a whole lot about what the book was about when I got started with it. I now realize that this book is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I have a small confession to make...I don't know a lot of fairytales well. I pretty much know what Disney has covered. I was discussing this book with my teenage dau
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I like Genevieve Valentine's writing. I have enjoyed everything I have been able to read by her.

I am not at all familure with the fairy tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as told by the Brothers Grimm, so I am not sure if it helped or hindered my reading of a retelling of the tale.

After finishing the book I looked here on GR to read some of the reviews of the book to see what others thought of the tale. To my surprise I could not find many reviews by other guys, which kind of worried me, as I
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know how sometimes I distinguish between a historical romance, where characters act in period-appropriate ways, and a costume romance, where modern characters are dressed in historical costumes and situations? I thought about that a lot while I was reading this book.

Some of the girls are living in a historical story, where they are the product of their society and their times. Some of them are us, with our modern attitudes toward men and what we can do. And one of them is Jo, who is beautif
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In what is a retelling of the fairy-tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" we join Jo Hamilton and her eleven sisters. Throughout there lives they have lived in a wealthy but isolated household with Jo, only having seen her mother on a handful of occasions and some of her sisters never. The girls are ruled with an iron fist by there father and things will go from bad to worse after the death of there mother when they learn that they are to be married of to the most acceptable suitors.

Known as "The
l y d i a.
This book. There are no words.

This book ripped me to shreds. I heard that it was good, and when I knew what it was about, I had to read it. A novelization of 'The Twelve Dancing Princess' set in the Roaring Twenties? Yes, please!

I started and could. not. stop. I think I stayed up until about three in the morning reading until I couldn't keep my eyes open, which hasn't actually happened in a long time.

I just. Wow. The writing was beautiful, and both the characters and the plot were so well-formed
**Thank you Atria Books and Netgalley for providing this in exchange for an honest review**

DNF @ 45%

I should have loved this book. It has two of my reading favorites going for it: Fairy Tale retelling and the 1920s setting. Everything about it fell flat. I really wanted to finish this, since it was provided free of charge, but after making it only 45% in 4 days I think it's time to admit defeat. I seem to be the only person who didn't care for this title. Maybe it's a case of the author's writin
Stephanie Swint
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This is historical fiction and a fairy tale retelling. Combine the prohibition era with 'The Twelve Dancing Princesses' and you get 'The Girls at the Kingfisher Club.' The roaring twenties is a perfect setting for this Grimm fairy tale. The reality of restriction and prohibition in the society of day leading to an overwhelming majority of citizens rebelling by drinking at the speakeasy's at night. Politicians and policemen frequented the speakeasy's while their political platforms railed against ...more
Lisa Wolf
In this fairy tale retelling, author Genevieve Valentine takes the classic story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and transplants it to Jazz Age Manhattan, with a result that is equal parts captivating and frustrating.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses was always one of my favorite fairy tales. In a nutshell: A king with twelve daughters locks the princesses into their chamber each night, but each morning finds that their shoes are worn completely through. He offers the pick of the princesses to any
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
The rating for this book may suffer a bit from comparison. I first came across this book while browsing Valentine's page after being mesmerizing by Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti. Of the books on the page, this jumped out at me because I have something of a fascinating with flappers and the 20s, and also with fairy tale retellings. But this book just didn't quite have the same magic as the first, for me - thus the comparison thing.

It is told in a similar style, which I think really w
May 13, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, but it just didn't draw me in as much as I was hoping for. The characters were interesting, but it's almost as if the tough exteriors they'd developed to keep them from being hurt and heartbroken as they went out dancing also kept the reader distant. I expected to experience all of their frustration, excitement, joy, sadness, and fear, but that strong connection never fully happened. The reader sees most of the story from Jo's perspective, and several times I wished I could ...more
Well! I've done very little the past few hours except read this book. I did feel disconnected from it at times, but, overall, I liked it a lot. The narration is a bit dreamy, fairy tale-like, at times and that appealed to me a lot.

And I was able to keep track of all 12 sisters, which I thought was pretty impressive. (Of the book AND of me.)

(I read a review that called this a YA, which surprised me. Having read it, I still don't think it's a YA.)
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
One of my all time favorite fairy tales is The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and this is set in the 20s, so I could not resist it! It's not magical, but that doesn't make it less enjoyable. Instead this is a story about sisterhood and women who are subjected to a father who does not know the meaning of love, much less doing the right thing by his family.

Josephine, who goes by Jo, and who is called General by her eleven younger sisters, has taken on the care of them. They are afraid and at times dis
Sparkling, boozy, and surprisingly subversive: in The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, Genevieve Valentine retells The Twelve Dancing Princesses with feminist, 1920s flapper flair. From the cramped attics of their cruel father’s townhouse to the smoky basement speakeasies, this book follows Jo “The General” and her sisters as they take their lives into their own hands through dance. Written in unique (and highly parenthetical) prose and with excellent attention to historical period, Valentine’s nov ...more
Jun 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
Valentine creates a pleasing tale similar to The Twelve Princesses by The Brothers Grimm.

I admit I was taken with this story from the beginning. I furiously turned every page with my curiosity and attention fully piqued. Needless to say I devoured this book in a matter of hours. Besides capturing my attention I completely adored the main protagonist Jo. Her protective nature, the way she diligently guards and cares for her sisters. She is ingenious, clever and ever self-sacrificing as she attem
Thanks to Genevieve Valentine, I know what I’m getting my oldest sister for Christmas.

The Twelve Dancing Sisters is a hard fairy tale to retell. Creating twelve unique characters is tough, and having them all appear on stage at the same time even harder. Yet I immediately felt engaged in the narrative, and I think that’s because Valentine mainly focuses on one character—the oldest sister Jo—and her deep but also undemonstrated love for all eleven of her sisters.

Jo is the General to her sisters,
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
So, so, so, so good. Read entirely in one day. I could not put it down (except for the Germany vs. Argentina game) and didn't realize I had settled in for the night to finish it until I got to the last page. Oh, that awful father. And oh, poor Jo's heart wrenching decision. I liked the guys on the side as much as the girls and loved the glitz and glamour with an undercurrent of fear.
May 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, by Genevieve Valentine, is an excellent retelling/updating of a classic fairy tale into a more modern setting. Rather than a pseudo-medieval castle filled with princesses and their suitors, Valentine gives us twelve sisters living in New York City during the Roaring Twenties who have been shut away from the world by their father. Their only entertainment, and their only contact with the outside world, come from their clandestine nightly excursions to speakeasi ...more
Although I didn't love this one as much as I had hoped that I would, The Girls at the Kingfisher Club was an immensely entertaining read.

What did it for me with this book was the setting. Every time I picked up my Nook to do some reading on my lunch hour, I was completely immersed in 1920s Manhattan. I won't lie, it took me a little while to get used to Genevieve Valentine's writing style, but once I got into it, I came to realize that it was perfect for this book. It was a little odd, but the
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is an absolutely scrumptious retelling of the Fairy Tale 12 Dancing Princesses set in the 1920s during the prohibition era.
The 12 Hamilton sisters are a huge disappointment to their wealthy autocratic father who only wanted a son. Their mother dies without giving him one and his daughters are kept secret and are rarely allowed to leave the house. They are schooled at home by a governess and order all their clothing by catalogs.
One day one of the nannies takes J
Katherine Kendig
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fairytales. I love them. And this one hits the mark.

Like all fairytales, it's a bit blurry around the edges: You could come up with a thousand questions about the details with no good answers, but the point of fairytales is to agree not to ask. ("What if the glass slipper fit somebody else first?" "...Be quiet.") I think the desperate, yearning, pragmatic mood the writing style creates adds to that blurriness and can occasionally obscure what's actually happening.

But the twelve dancing princess
Michelle M. Young
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In this novel, author Genevieve Valentine takes the Twelve Dancing Princesses' fairy tale and recreates the plot using the sights, sounds, and attitude of the beginning of the woman's movement as it appeared in the Roaring 20s and in the dark world of the speakeasy.
Along with The Perfume Collector, this is one of my favorite novels of the year, and it definitely took me by surprise. I would love to see this book become a Broadway musical--I want to see and hear those sisters dancing live as wel
Myra Rose
Nov 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book was a chore to read. The story was so unbelievable and the characters were somewhat lackluster. Not only was the time period murky, but the time frame of the story was difficult to figure out. And what was up with the parentheses? I've never seen so many used anywhere and I'm not really sure what Valentine was trying to do with them. After a bit, they were so annoying. This book was a bust for me and the only reason I finished it was because of my book club.
Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
I REALLY jived with this book and it's quite a quick read. It brings forth this weird era where women were seeing other women being independent yet it wasn't totally socially "appropriate" to do so (especially coming from money) at the time. I love reading books set in the Prohibition era. It's just utterly fascinating to see the period or rebellion and transition.

I was concerned at first that a cast of 12 would just be too much for me to keep straight bit other than Josephine and Louise, they m
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a very clever retelling of a lesser known fairy tale (and by lesser known, I mean there is no Disney film or short film based off it yet).

The setting, writing, and characters were all very good and interesting. I love fairy tales and their retellings. I get really annoyed, however, with how many are being churned out without really doing much different with the story. The setting might change, but the basic pieces have not, so the story isn't really reinvented but lazily rehashed. The
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
From the Militant Recommender Book Review Blog:

It's midnight. All over 1920s New York the speakeasies are hopping and girls are letting themselves go wild with this new liberation of shorter hemlines and shorter hair. The wildest of the girls are the 12 beautiful Hamilton sisters. No one knows their real names or identities. They just call them "Princess" when they want a dance. They don't know they're sisters or that they have been kept virtual prisoners
I’ve been meaning to read this for ages — I love the idea of a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses set in the world of Manhattan during prohibition. It just sounded fascinating: how could it be transformed, how would it play out? The answer is: fairly loosely. That’s not a criticism — I think sticking too rigidly to the story would have killed this book. Instead of sticking to a particular version, it makes its own, with other fairytale elements coming in: the wicked father, the dead moth ...more
Jun 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Without a doubt, one of the most unique and memorable reads that I've read in 2014. Genevieve Valentine's The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is partly the favorite childhood fairy tale you kept checking out from the library over and over, partly F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, this retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses is something entirely new and fresh. Each "princess" (not really princesses in this story, but rebellious sheltered daughters/sisters yearning for freedom from their em ...more
Alex MacFarlane
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A breezy read with a bit of bite. I liked it. I don’t know the fairytale it retells (Twelve Dancing Princesses), but it has a bit of a fairytale feel: a certain neatness to some events, the image of twelve sisters going out dancing. The love of dancing suffuses the book, as does the tense relationship between the sisters and the prison of their father’s house.

The focal point of the book is Jo, the oldest sister and “the general”: her role in organising her sisters’ false freedom, in keeping them
Maybe the best fairytale re-working I've read. Valentine knows when to hew to the bones of the story--and when to follow the logic of the world and characters she's built to leave the traditional tale behind and let the story become something new. So this is a story about princesses, and dancing, and being locked in a tower--but it's also a story about the way people lock themselves in with their own expectations and fears, about the insidious rush of being needed, and about how to set that asid ...more
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Genevieve Valentine has sold more than three dozen short stories; her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Journal of Mythic Arts, Fantasy Magazine, Lightspeed, and Apex, and in the anthologies Federations, The Living Dead 2, The Way of the Wizard, Running with the Pack, Teeth, and more.

Her nonfiction has appeared in Lightspeed,, and Fantasy Magazine, a

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