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.