Entwined by Heather Dixon
Greenwillow Books, 472 Pages
US Release Date: March 29, 2011
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.
"You always manage it," said Bramble, curling her toes on the slick stone. "Turning things about."
"That's what sisters do," said Azalea. "We watch out for each other. Don't we?"
I'll admit it: if I could get away with reading nothing but fairy tales, I probably would. However, I can't say most modern fairy tales appeal to me: everything is so clear cut! The princess is beautiful, the prince handsome, the villain is horrendous looking and very obvious. Blah! Who needs a book written like a children's puzzle: color coded and numerically ordered?
That's why I was so thrilled to get my hands on a copy of Entwined by Heather Dixon. It's a harkening back to proper Grimm-esque fairy tales. They were originally written as a warning to children. It's easy to say "Stay out of the forest at night, children!" SOOO much better: "Stay out of the forest at night children or the Erlking will snatch you up and eat you." See? Much more effective.
This story happens to follow one of the most underappreciated fairy tales: The Twelve Dancing Princesses. We finally get a motive for their sneaking out: it's not simple adolescent rebellion; their dancing is an insistent way of honoring their mother and refusing to give in to despair. The twelve princesses, named alphabetically after various flora and fauna are a wonder to get to know. Dixon is brilliant with a cast of so many characters all being relevant and present. Azalea takes the lead but her sister Bramble steals the show with vivacity and the tenacious strength of a pitbull. All twelve sisters are distinct, but it is their combined gifts that make it possible to combat the Keeper.
Oh let's talk about the villain. I so appreciate it when the villain is pretty and mysterious. The Keeper is everything a girl could want in a bad guy: luminous skin, pretty hair, a lovely dancer...and a penchant for telling the eeriest side story in the book. Seriously, I can't talk about it. It's not too hard to figure out what his motives really are but watching them play out in sequence was original and oh
This book had everything I wanted: strong, vibrant characters, a magical element that was somehow very believable, a dastardly villain and a cover so beautiful you just want to frame it. Since I read it
initially, I've re-read it twice---and maybe that's the best part.
5 Stars / 5