By Heather Dixon
Azalea was the oldest of twelve girls and had to fight to save her family and herself from the dark magic within the palace walls. Every night, Azalea and her 11 sisters stepped through a magical passageway where they could get away from the boring castle that was in the midst of mourning over their mother (the queen) and could dance their hearts out in the Silver Forest owned by the Keeper, but of course there was a cost to the Keepers gift. Azalea was trapped, but the Keeper understood because he was trapped too! He's been held within the palace walls for centuries! He's been waiting for somebody who could find the magic item and break it! That would set the Keeper free! But the item is hidden very well. In the meantime, the sisters are learning how to survive without their mother, and a father who never talks to them unless he's complaining. They also learn very good lessons in life from the dances they learn. As the book evolves, the relationship with their father becomes more loving. Also, during the year of mourning, the three oldest--Azalea, Bramble, and Clover--fall in love and get engaged to be married!
Azalea is hosting the annual Yuletide ball that the royal family holds every Christmas eve. The Queen, who is going into labor and is very sick gives Azalea handkerchief and has her swear on it that she will take care of her 10 sisters. The sisters were told the next morning that their mother had died that night giving birth to her last child, Lily. This is what started the year of mourning, a tradition of the royal family when a relative or a close family friend dies. During the mourning year the King forbids the girls from dancing which is their favorite past time.
Azalea discovered the D'Eathe mark which can reveal secret rooms and passageways when rubbed with something silver, in the girls bedroom. She rubs the handkerchief on the mark, it reveals a passage with a staircase leading downwards. She wakes up the other girls and they all follow Azalea down the staircase. At the bottom they find a forest of silver trees and a pavilion full of enchanted dancers. They interrupt the party and the dancers disappear. The owner of the pavilion introduces himself as the Keeper, and explains he was part of the legendary High King's court, but rebelled and was trapped within the castle as punishment. He allows the princesses to dance to their hearts content, and invites them to come here every night until mourning is over, but he didn't tell them the cost of his gift.
A few months later, Azalea realizes that their watch is missing and goes back to retrieve it. Keeper reveals he's been stealing from them, and refuses to give their things back until they find the magic object that's keeping him trapped within the walls of the castle. the sisters go on a very thorough search for the object, but found nothing. . Meanwhile, the King puts an advertisement in the newspaper inviting gentlemen to stay at the castle for two days to try and solve the riddle of where the princesses dance at night. The girls are furious, but quickly realize it's only an attempt to skirt around mourning rules and get them meeting potential suitors. All of which prove to be stuck up, boring or annoying.
Keeper once again steals from the girls, this time their mothers brooch. Azalea storms down to the pavilion and tells him they're never going to come again, realizing Keeper is not as charming as he first appeared. The exit is magically blocked and the pavilion erupts into a wild and violent masquerade ball. As Azalea is being throw about she sees the soul of her dead mother, he tells her that he'll only release her mother if she finds the object trapping him
But in the end everything goes up hill. The three oldest find suitors that they fall in love with and their father came out of his shell and developed a relationship with his daughters, the twelve dancing princesses
Azalea: the oldest daughter and main character of the book
Bramble: second daughter
Clover: third daughter
Delphinium: fourth daughter
Eve: fifth daughter
Flora: Sixth daughter
Goldenrod: seventh daughter
Holly: eighth daughter
Ivy: ninth daughter
Jessamine: tenth daughter
kale: eleventh daughter
Lily: 12th daughter
The king: The daughters father
The Queen: the daughters dead mother
The keeper: the bad guy