by Heather Dixon
Published March 29th 2011
by Greenwillow Books
Azalea and her 11 sisters are in mourning for their dead mother. Instead of dancing their heartache away their father wants them to drearily mope around the castle dressed in black. When they find their way into the keeper’s lair deep inside the castle they awaken a power they might not survive. Happily they aren’t alone they have their estranged father and Mr. Bradford a sensible and lovely young man who won’t allow Azalea to slip away.
The writing was really very enchanting. I feel like the author was a dancer and really loves it and understands how it works its way into every aspect of your life. It wasn’t heavy handed as purply prose is wont to be – it was light and quite lovely. The writing sucked me in immediately.
He was shockingly easy to follow. The pressure of his hand, the step of his foot, the angle of his frame… it was like reading his mind. When he leaned right, they turned in perfect unison. He swept her across the gallery in a quick three, a dizzying pace. Gilded frames and glass cases and the window blurred in her vision, and Azalea spun out, her skirts pulling and poofing around her, before he caught her and brought her back into dance position. She could almost hear music playing, swelling inside of her.
I liked the idea of the sisters and the way this story was based on the fairy tale the 12 Dancing Princesses (one of my favorite fairy tales!) but I wasn’t sure at first if I liked Azalea. The death of her mother soon after proved what kind of young lady this girl was and I found myself quite taken in by her. The death of your primary source of love is quite hard to bear.
The other girls didn’t understand their father or even think about why their mother had possibly loved him. They simply lashed out in their grief. I LOVED this aspect of the plot and the emotional undercurrent that it created for every other plot point in the story. Masterfully developed from a storytelling perspective.
The Keeper was quite enchanting. I loved how there was this balance created between him being a creepy pervert and a magical gentleman who wanted to give these 12 princesses an opportunity to dance their grief away. Your suspicions about him start out hazy enough and you go from there. His part of the story gets magnificently creepy (but not horror show creepy, more fairy tale creepy) and fits the story perfectly as to what a fairy tale villain should be but developed out into a full length book.
I loved the tricks he used to get Azalea to do his will and I love the balance between her getting herself out of the bed she made and relying on allies to help her save her sisters. Peer pressure from her sisters also had a part to play like I think it does many times in real life and I loved that aspect.
“He’s around the twist,’ said Azalea. ‘Breaking all the windows? He’s mad.’
‘Ah, no,’ said the King. ‘It’s only madness if you actually do it. If you want to break all the windows in the house and drown yourself in a bucket but don’t actually do it, well, that’s love.”
There’s also this lovely other side to the plot and story of learning to accept love from someone even though it isn’t delivered in the way you’d prefer. Their father has always loved them but they preferred their mother’s love. With her gone they had to adjust to him and him to them. I quite loved this very real and grounded part of the story! It brought in other gentlemen in a very real way to liven the story and divert us from what we think is going to happen. Also I had my eye on Mr. Bradford the whole time and I never thought he’d be as smart as he was and all without overshadowing Azalea’s own part to play in saving herself!
The balance these story elements struck was perfect. The world felt like a fairy tale while giving us something to relate to. Loved the end climax with the mirrors and the puppets, also all the gentlemen in love!
BOTTOM LINE: A magical combination of princess, romance, mourning and evil fairy tale.
It is difficult as a writer to take what someone already knows, what you already know and spin it not only with different circumstances (i.e. different genre, setting, back history, etc) but also with the story’s own unique themes and character growth. You are apt to follow the pattern the original fairy tale told and lose out on the intimate changes you can inject to make the story your own! Entwined is the BEST fairy tale retelling I’ve read so far because it does just that… becomes its own!!