Princess of the Midnight Ball was both satisfying and disappointing (with the scale tipping in favor of satisfying).
The story picks up three years after Rose and her sisters broke the curse of the King Under Stone. Many of the countries are still suffering from the chaos and tragedy created from those events, and relations between nations are civil at best. So when Poppy (one of the middle sisters) is offered the chance to spend some time in Breton (in a kind of foreign exchange program), she agrees, although with some reluctance. Being a foreign guest means there will be lots of balls, and Poppy has sworn off dancing for the rest of her life.
Soon after her arrival, Prince Christian from the Danelaw also arrives, and the king of Breton has high hopes of marrying him off to a Bretoner, thereby forming an advantageous alliance. But unbeknownst to anyone else, the Corley (a grandmotherly witch) also has plans, and she has her sights set on a match between Prince Christian and Ellen, a young woman who used to be a noble but, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, now works as a maid. Soon the Corley has almost the entire kingdom locked in her spell, but Poppy has learned a thing or two about magic, and she is not about to have her prince stolen out from under her.
Right from the start, I liked this book better than Princess of the Midnight Ball because Poppy is, far and away, a much more exciting and personable main character than Rose. She stands up for herself. She has a no-nonsense kind of attitude. And she is full of plans, ideas, and solutions . . . and the courage to go along with them.
Unfortunately, she is paired with Prince Christian, who, in my opinion, is almost no better than a sack of potatoes (a handsome sack of potatoes, yes, but still . . . ). I guess I could cut him a little slack since he was put under a spell and all, but really, spell or no spell, there wasn't anything very interesting there. In contrast, Roger (a nobleman and friend of the family Poppy is staying with) was spot on magnificent. Cool and heroic and brilliant. I kept hoping he and Poppy would just leave the rest of the kingdom under the Corley's spell and run off together (okay, not really). Don't misunderstand, there was never any hint that this was a possibility. It was just hard to see Poppy falling for Prince Christian when he was so all-around boring.
My favorite aspect of the book was the way the Cinderella story was retold. It took the traditional tale and turned it completely on its head. With Poppy as the main character and Ellen (i.e., Cinderella) in a more secondary, and not all that likeable, role, it revived and made the story exciting again. I loved the way the glass slippers and magical coach and the clock striking twelve all made their way into the story without seeming obvious or contrived. Towards the end of the book, Poppy slips into the Cinderella role for a few hours, which seemed fitting but was also totally unexpected. And then, of course, casting the fairy godmother as the villain was a genius idea.
If it hadn't been for the ending, I would definitely have liked this one more than Princess of the Midnight Ball. But then, the ending! I still don't know what happened. All of a sudden there was crashing glass, and then it was over, and they were all talking about it. I seriously wondered if somehow, even with my slow reading pace, I had inadvertently skimmed over something.
In summary, all of the things I didn't like about Princess of the Midnight Ball, I liked in Princess of Glass. And all of the things I didn't like in Princess of Glass, I liked in Princess of the Midnight Ball. Maybe if the two had been combined, they would have formed the perfect novel.
Then again, probably not.