Book Reviews · The Reading

Entwined by Heather Dixon

8428195Title: Entwined
Author: Heather Dixon
Published: March 27th, 2012 by Greenwillow Books

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Summary:

Come and mend your broken hearts here. In this retelling of the classic tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” the eldest princess must fight to save her family—and her heart—from an ancient dark magic within the palace walls. “Full of mystery, lush settings, and fully orbed characters, Dixon’s debut is both suspenseful and rewarding.”—ALA Booklist

Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it’s taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late. “Readers who enjoy stories of royalty, romance, and magic will delight in Dixon’s first novel.”—Publishers Weekly

The Review:

For some reason, the entire time I was reading Entwined, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake kept playing on repeat in my head. It has now become my theme song for this book. Also, Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Azalea and her eleven sisters are in mourning. Their mother died giving birth to the twelfth princess, Lily, and their father, the King left them to go to war. The princesses are okay –well, not okay, but at least they accept not wearing colorful dresses (only black dresses for mourning), and not going outside. But apparently, they can’t dance either! This is very devastating for the girls because dancing is life. So when they stumbled upon a magical pavilion, with dancers and a charming Mr. Keeper, the princesses were ecstatic! After taking an oath that prevents them from telling their secret to anyone, Azalea and her sisters visit the pavilion every night, until they find out that it and the Keeper aren’t so delightful after all.

So the story isn’t really anything new, it is a retelling after all, but I find myself enjoying it a lot. I think what I love most about Entwined is the relationships between the characters. I don’t have that many siblings (I have one younger brother and two younger sisters), but I could relate to the twelve sisters in this book. Sometimes they argue/quarrel, sometimes they prank each other, and people confuse them with each other (more than once, my mom would call me by my sisters’ names even when I’m sitting right in front of her), but they can always rely on each other, and that makes me so happy while I was reading. Their relationship with the King is more… rocky. People deal with grief in different ways. Azalea and her sisters need to dance, but the King, on the other hand, distances himself from his daughters even when they want to reach out to him.

I felt just as sad as Azalea and her sisters whenever their father rejects them and then left for the war, but like I said, different people, different coping methods. But despite all their talk of not caring for the King, ‘the King is not part of our family anymore’ etc. etc., I could still see the love the girls have for their father through their actions, like checking the newspaper every day to see if he is injured. And when he came back from the war, the way the King tries to win back his daughters is so heartwarming I just smiled the whole time. While this book does have romantic subplots, I love how Entwined focuses more on the family bonds rather than romance. In fact, the romance was just a small part of the story. It was still adorable though 🙂 .

The characters in Entwined are memorable, each with their own unique characteristics. As there are TWELVE sisters in the story, it’s understandable that some of them are not as distinct as the others, but a few of them are quite memorable. Being the eldest sister, Azalea takes on the role of their mother, taking care of the younger sisters, trying to help them cope with their grief while dealing with her own, and I think she’s a wonderful character. Bramble is my favorite. She’s witty, loud and definitely the kind of girl who speaks before she thinks.

While I think that the writing is quite simple and not too elaborate, the story flowed nicely and I didn’t get bored at all. In the end, I think that Entwined is a story of family, how a family can find its way back together after a tragedy. It is a wonderful retelling of the original tale, imbued with humor, wonderful relationships, and a creepy (but not super creepy/scary, don’t worry) villain. This is one of those books that I want my younger sisters to read; it’s easy to read, heartwarming, and it shows us that love and family is the most powerful magic of all.

“Down with tyranny!’ Bramble cried. ‘Aristocracy! Autocracy! Monocracy! Other ocracy things! You are outnumbered, sir! Surrender!”
Heather Dixon, Entwined

4 Stars

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