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.
I love fairy tale retellings and I've been wanting to read Entwined ever since I first heard of it last September so I was happy to finally sink into it. The tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses is familiar to me and I've read another retelling of it called Princess of the Midnight Ball so I was was hoping that I enjoyed this version of the story just as much.
Azalea and her eleven sisters have been plunged into mourning after the death of their mother when giving birth to her youngest daughter Lily. Forced to sport black dresses and banned from, balls, going into the palace gardens except on royal business, seeing suitors and worst of all, dancing, the girls find life dull. That is until they discover a magic staircase in their room leading to a beautiful underworld pavilion where they can dance all night under the watchful eye of the handsome Keeper and wear their dancing shoes to rags to the bewilderment of their servants. However, the Keeper has more to him than meets the eye and the girls realise too late that they have become entangled in something more than they bargained on and danger is hot on their heels.
Entwined is told in the third person through the eyes of Princess Azalea and through the narrative, a beautiful world is spun and the vivid imaginings of the palace and magic captivated me. Heather Dixon has bought a unique spin to the fairy tale and added a fresh and creative dimension that has really made it her own. I loved her descriptions of the kingdom from the grandeur of the palace gardens to the scary silvery shadows of the magic pavilion where the girls go to dance. Oh- and the dancing! I really can't dance myself but I could picture the graceful and elegant movements of the girls gliding and swirling across the ball room. There was also a good balance of old traditions, formal dancing at balls and modern behaviour without it seeming out of place.
The close bond between the sisters was adorable to see and was a joy to read about when so many YA book families are dysfunctional. They comforted each other after the death of their mother and were always looking out for one another. You might think that with twelve girls to contend with, characteristics wouldn't be a strong point but I'm happy to say that each of the girls had a distinct personality and I knew who each one was even though they didn't get equal page time. There was cheeky and fiery. Bramble who's always cracking a joke, responsible and kind Azalea. However the family were not without their problems and Azalea had many worries to deal with from the burden looking after her sisters to the government choosing a suitable husband for her. The girl's relationship with the King evolved really well throughout the story with him developing a lot as a father and it was lovely to see the family overcome their problems together. One addition I especially loved was that the girl's flower names were arranged in order of their age so Azalea's name was A as she is the eldest and I was referring to the alphabet constantly to see how old one of the girls were. I would have been lost without that...
Now a fairytale wouldn't be complete without a smidgen of romance, right? There were several romantic interests in Entwined for the eldest of the sisters and each one romantic in their own sweet way! It took nearly the whole book for the relationships to develop but this was part of the beauty of it because there was no love at first sight and made for some very humorous scenes!
One thing to note is that the plot is quite slow moving and although this allowed for the excellent character and relationship development, it did affect my enjoyment slightly.
Verdict: Entwined has everything the perfect fairytale needs- a gorgeous setting, endearing characters, an evil villain, cute romance, humour and a happily-ever-after! It was an enchanting and heart warming break from reality that made me lose myself in the world of princesses, dancing, magic and family love. Not only did I love the story but also Heather Dixon's writing and I'm looking forward to seeing what she writes next. I'd especially recommend Entwined to fairytale and fantasy lovers and wish it would be made into a movie.
Rating: 4.5 stars