Entwined by Heather Dixon
March 2011, HarperCollins Publishers
Young Adult fantasy
Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it’s taken away. All of it.
The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And 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.
Entwined is a beautiful book: beautiful design, beautiful concept, beautifully written. Heather Dixon is an excellent storyteller, and her re-imagining of the classic Grimm’s fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” is at once lovely and disturbing. Don’t let the lovely float-y dress on the cover fool you: this is can be an extremely dark book, besides the seemingly innocent premise of an old enchanted palace and twelve sisters who live to dance. Yes, there is the occasional scene of fluffiness, but after reading I saw how effective these were at contrasting the sisters’ lives before and after their mother’s death and their discovery of the Keeper’s pavilion.
I adored all the characters, from the princesses to their various gentlemen suitors, to the dark and handsome Keeper. Every one was believable and either loveable or hate-able, depending on which side he or she was on. Dixon did an admirable job of fleshing out the flat characters of the original fairy tale. That’s one of my favorite aspects of the fairy tale or myth retelling– being able to expand on old stories and characters that have that spark but leave lots of questions hanging.
My other favorite aspect about fairy tale retellings is the author’s ability to give a feminist turn to the stories, something that I don’t think Dixon did such a good job at. How many times can Azalea swoon? And why is it the gentlemen who ride in on their charging horses and sweep the princesses off their feet– literally and figuratively– with their bravery and prowess? I would have liked to see a lot more “girl power” in Entwined. Bramble was my favorite character in this division, and I don’t think anyone gave her enough credit for her spunk, sass, and get-‘er-done attitude.
Entwined effectively combines the dark and romantic (about that–did anyone who has read this book find it odd that, at the end, Azalea still refers to Mr. Bradford as…Mr. Bradford? Do we even know his first name?) for a satisfying read. I only wish that Azalea hadn’t fainted more than once. Blame it on the corsets, but if she were a truly strong character, she would have rebelled and gone without the troublesome things.
Rating: 4 stars