Title: A Time of Mourning and Dancing
Series: The Floramancy Archives (Book #1)
Author: Abigail Falanga
Synopsis: Once, Toph knew his place in the world.
As a respected captain in a victorious army, he had triumph and promotion to look forward to. But crippling injury stole his future and war stole his friend. Belonging nowhere and with nothing left to lose, Toph accepts a challenge that could end his life: discover a secret the princesses will do anything to hide.
Vicia is a princess, but powerless and in mourning.
Her beloved brothers were killed in a war she’s beginning to question. Ever since, she and her eleven sisters have become mere treasure for her stepfather the king to use to barter. A chance meeting with a frightened faery gave a wild hope that they may recover what they’ve lost. But it will cost a dance—and a dangerous secret.
Soldier and princess must learn to rely on each other if they are to survive curses, slighted fae, and an enchanted lost land. Something dark and powerful lurks in the mists beyond the dance floor, conducting the steps… and time is running out.
A dark fantasy retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”
Review: I don’t know that I’ve ever read a more faithful retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Abigail Falanga has taken the Grimm fairytale piece by piece and given it exactly that way back to us — but with all the explanations and gorgeous storytelling that the Grimm brothers forgot. If I’m going to be honest, I was kinda blown away. I didn’t expect any retellings to be able to stick to the original fairytale THAT closely. I loved it.
Christopher, or Toph as he likes to be known, once had an important place in the army. Not terribly high in the ranks, a mere captain, but he knew his duty and knew what he must do. Now, with the war over, the world has turned a blind eye to him and ignored the wounds he’s suffered in order to gain peace. With no home, family, or plans, it’s the perfect time to go after the silly edict King Victor has posted — figure out the secret of the princesses’ worn-out dancing shoes or die trying.
Vicia, as the eldest of the princesses, has seen her fair share of joy and sorrow. The war that has finally come to an end may have given her stepfather the victory he so desired, but the lives her of beloved brothers were lost as a result. Now she and her eleven sisters have a pretty big secret to keep, and the king is ready to start handing them off in marriage to any man who can discover it.
This whole book felt like just a classic fairytale. The curses, the mythological creatures and faeries — I’m so grateful this is the first book of a series, because I’d love to see more in this world. There just wasn’t enough time in this book to develop and explore it all the way it deserved.
I liked Toph well enough from the first page, but he just kept getting more likable through each chapter. Yes, he’s struggling with the dark memories of the past war and seeing men he’d loved and followed succumb to the battle. He begins following the princesses to learn their secret as a mere way to pass the time, but as he learns the truth and forms relationships with the twelve girls, he’s just as set on the secret as they are. I loved getting to see him interact with all the sisters, becoming in many ways like an older brother to them. And they get him to smile again.
The romance was pretty sweet. I mean, it wasn’t blatantly obvious, but if you knew the original fairytale and you were looking for the hints, it was there. I like that, even though it was just three days’ time that the couple was together, they built up a really good friendship and camaraderie. I definitely hope they return for some more fun scenes in the latter books.
I do have to say the moment when the TITLE made sense… WHAT the secret was… *blown away* *all the feels* Can’t say more, y’know. Spoilers.
I also loved the nods to several other fairytales. Cinderella, the Goose Girl… and even the inclusion of the infamous seven-league boots — which made for some hilarious scenes! I’m excited to see what Abigail has in store for the rest of the series. Hopefully, more fairytale retellings. *grins*
The only complaints I have about this book are really minor. There were quite a few typos/misspellings/grammar errors that I noticed, but I read an ARC so hopefully those are all smoothed out in the final version. Additionally, the pacing was sometimes slow — despite everything happening in three days — and I thought there may be a little too much time spent with the characters just talking? But maybe that’s just me.
THE ENDING. It’ll get you. I hit the last page and spluttered in confusion. Yeah, it tied up this book’s arc quickly but in a satisfying way, and THEN IT JUST STOPPED. There were too many unanswered questions, and I NEED answers. That second book better be coming soon.
Advisory: Overall, really clean. Hints of romance, with one kiss, I believe. Some characters hint at a married couple trying to produce an heir. Anything else would be some action, character deaths/injuries, and mentions of the war, but not super graphic.
Magic. There are quite a few fae creatures and curses floating around, including some I didn’t recognize, and the world feels very fictional and fantastical. While humans don’t have the ability to create/handle magic, they are shown to make pacts with those who can.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars