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The Phoenix Dance Hardcover – 11 Oct 2005

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
honest and beautiful 17 Nov. 2005
By Ven Stone - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In this retelling of 'The Twelve Dancing Princesses,' Dia Calhoun returns to the world of "Aria of the Sea" to tell another emotional and engaging fantasy story that deals with real-life teen issues. As "Aria of the Sea" discussed the issues of life choices, controlling relationships, and suicide, this companion novel brings to light the struggles faced by those with Bi-Polar II Disorder. Phoenix is a very strong, kind-hearted, and realistic heroine who must make important decisions regarding her own health at the same time that she is trying to figure out how to save the princesses. This novel contains the beautiful seaside imagery and some of the characters we remember from "Aria of the Sea," though readers won't have to have read that one first. Phoenix's story is full of magic and truth, the fantastic and realistic elements woven together to create an engaging fantasy novel with an important lesson. Calhoun's novels, though they highlight specific issues, have very widespread messages. The decisions Phoenix must make could inspire others who've come to a point where they must either choose to help themselves or risk losing themselves completely, even if their probems are very different from those of the main character. I recommend this novel both as a huge fan of teen fantasy novels and as a future teacher certified to teach English and Pyschology.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Decent for a one time read, but not a keeper 21 Aug. 2006
By guitarchick24 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a reader who loves fairy tale retellings, I was very disappointed in The Phoenix Dance.

The story centers around young Phoenix Dance, whose great dream in life is to become a shoemaker. When she lands an apprenticeship to the Royal Shoemaker, it seems her every wish is ready to come true. But Phoenix has an illness (bipolar disorder - referred to as the "Illness of the two Kingdoms" in the book) that threatens to unravel her apprenticeship, her relationships, and ultimately, her sanity.

And that's the real story. The "Twelve Dancing Princesses" doesn't come into it until the last third of the book, and even then, it's rather rushed. Since you know the story of the princesses and the ending, you know that Phoenix will ultimately triumph; but the author seems to suggest that it's Phoenix's experience with the "Two Kingdoms" sickness that allows her to help the princesses, and not necessarily the familiar elements (the magic cloak, not taking the sleeping potion, etc.). Kind of wierd, to me, for a fairy tale retelling.

I give it two stars for character credibility. Phoenix is a bit naive in the beginning, but through her experiences grows into a person who is able to accept reality and deal with things the way they are and not the way she wishes they could be. And while you get the sense that she will learn to live with her illness, there are still consequences for her rash actions that happened while she was sick. (Although to be honest, it was that same realism that disappointed me - I wanted a more happy ending).

It was definitely interesting, and I give the author credit for introducing a serious topic to a young audience in an interesting way. But is it something I'd keep and reread? Probably not.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Simply Thrilling 4 April 2006
A Kid's Review - Published on
Format: Hardcover
From the very moment I laid eyes on the first page I knew it was going to be good. It covers everything from the everyday drama of a teenage life to the horrors of the dark sea dragon. It is a wonderful and imaginative fairy tale that everyone can in some way relate to.I would recommend this book to anyone who think they are up for a challenge, you never know what could happen in the Kingdom of Windward!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An Unusual Fairy Tale 3 April 2008
By Pamela Bronson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
My teenage daughters and I all just read and enjoyed this unusual retelling of the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." We were all rather surprised to find the main character, a shoemaker's girl apprentice, suffering from "The Disease of the Two Kingdoms" as it's called in the story (the kingdoms being Brilliance and Darkness,) which we would called bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness. After enduring some old-fashioned treatments that fit the 17th/18th century feel of the setting (bloodletting and hot and cold baths), Phoenix is treated with a mixture of herbs that has to be carefully calibrated to stabilize her moods. Even when it works, she hates the side effects (pimples and weight gain) and misses the elation and creativity of the early stages of the "Kingdom of Brilliance", so she doesn't always drink her "potion." She is blessed with an understanding family and employer, but not everyone in her life is so accepting or recognizes that it's not her fault. Phoenix makes shoes for the twelve princesses and decides to help end their enchantment, which also somewhat resembles bipolar disorder. The ending is somewhat different from the fairy tale, but quite as satisfactory.

I think this book could be very helpful for people who have or know someone with this disorder or other problems like depression, anxiety, and OCD. Phoenix learns that she can still be herself, perhaps more truly herself, while taking medicine. The author herself has bipolar disorder and wrote this book out of her own experience. There's also plenty of normal adolescent angst - and fun - and it's a pretty good read, with interesting realistic characters, good prose, and good plotting. I gave it four rather than five stars because I didn't find it quite as absorbing as the Diana Wynn Jones book I read before it, but that is perhaps an unfair comparison.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Tale of Twelwe Dancing Princesses 6 July 2007
By Charles G. Moore - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have always loved the story of the twelve dancing princesses. Just the mystery of the tale made me like it. That is one of the many reasons that I liked this story so much. It is the twelve dancing princesses only more mysterious and with many plot-thickening elements. Another thing I liked about it is that there are so many sub-plots which eventually mean a lot to the main plot. It is needless to say that it is one of the best books I have ever read.
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