Author: Heather Dixon
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: March 29, 2011
Reading copy from local library
There's romance and then there's Romance. Lower case "r" romance is what most people think of when they think of the word, which is pretty much anything the new Old Spice guy offers you in one of his commercials. (You know, walks on the beach, diamonds, tickets to that thing you love.)
Capital "R" romance goes back to the Romantics, the literary and artistic movement in the early 19th century that took off the neatly coiffed wig of the Enlightenment and let its luscious locks get windswept in the moors. Capital "R" romance favors emotion over logic and nature over order. Capital "R" romantics are Byron, Keats, Shelley. And Heather Dixon.
While there is more than a touch of lower case "r" romance in Entwined, it is, at its heart, an unabashed capital "R" romance. Based on the Grimm fairytale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," Heather Dixon creates a truly magical world. Princess Azalea discovers this magical world and ultimately must protect her family from it. But it is a beguiling world, a world Byron would have been at home in, a world ruled by a charming yet mysterious figure known as Keeper.
After Azalea's mother dies, she promises to look after her 11 younger sisters. Her mother loved to dance and it is a gift that Azalea wants to share with her sisters. But their father demands that the girls honor their mother through a year-long mourning and forbids them from dancing. Azalea hears a rumor of secret rooms in the castle and finds one, which leads her to Keeper's world. Every night, she and her sisters sneak into Keeper's domain to dance. And when Keeper demands a favor in return, Azalea doesn't realize how dangerous he is until it is too late.
Azalea is often forced to choose between the rules she is expected to follow as Princess and her own wishes. She often makes the wrong choice. But this is what makes her journey interesting and keeps the stakes high. Entwined is a beautifully written book, especially when describing the many dances. I, for one, would love to see the Entwine dance performed.
My only quibble is that with 12 princesses, it was difficult to keep track of them all at first. Having their names go alphabetically from oldest to youngest helped, but it did take me awhile to figure out their ages. The younger sisters were sketches rather than full-blown characters, but the most important of the sisters were well-developed.
I would recommend Entwined to readers who enjoyed Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine or The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.
Bonus Video: Absolutely lovely book trailer for Entwined