Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Heather Dixon's Entwined

I recently read Jessica Day George's Princess of the Midnight Ball because I wanted to read more interpretations of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses". I reviewed it and overall found it a light, fun read, pretty much true to the fairy tale but giving an interesting explanation for how the curse came to be.

In the comments, reader Claudia McCarron recommended I check out Heather Dixon's Entwined. It would actually be really interesting to compare and contrast the two novels, they have a lot in common while each takes unique approaches, but I won't give away spoilers or go too much into detail with an audience that hasn't necessarily read either book (although feel free to comment below for a more in depth discussion on either book if you wish!)

The book summary:
Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it's taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. 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. "Readers who enjoy stories of royalty, romance, and magic will delight in Dixon's first novel."—Publishers Weekly
Image from the book trailer

Whereas the fairy tale usually begins after the Princesses have already been going to the underground Kingdom for a long time already, the most intriguing part about this book was that it showed how the sisters discovered it, and why they became trapped in such a dangerous place. It includes a magical history of their castle that is quite dark, but the book also explores familial relationships at the same time we're unraveling the mystery, which gives it added depth.

In my opinion, the weakest part of the book is the final sequence. It became really confusing, and I'm not actually sure what happened to the villain. To be fair, it's incredibly difficult to create a world of magic with structure and consistency.

Overall though it was a really interesting read. It's a little more creepy and complex than Princess of the Midnight Ball, so good for slightly older readers, although they're both categorized as young adult novels.  Also, it appeared to me (from my little knowledge) that Dixon had done research into court dances of Europe, and fun fact-she has four brothers and six sisters. So she more than most of us has an idea of what it would be like to be raised in a family so large.

Any opinions on either book? Any other recommendations?


  1. This is great! I had seen this book around at work, but didn't know it was a retelling of the fairy tale. Thanks!

  2. There was one book that was interesting that was called the Treachery of Beautiful Things, and kind of put the scariness back into fairyland. It felt mythological in a few ways, and dipped a tinsy bit into horror, though I didn't realize till now that the word would be appropriate, but I liked the book overall. Not sure if I'm recommending it or not, but it was definitely an interesting read that differed from other YA fairy tale books, and you could get attached to the characters.

  3. I'm glad you read it. It is my personal favorite retelling of the tale, although I have to agree with you about the climax--it took me much longer than it ahould have to unravel it. But as I mentioned before, I adore the rich setting and the familial focus. I loved that the three eldest princesses all had their own romantic subplots, usually it's only the eldest/youngest princess. Also, the fact that their relationship with their father was fleshed out more. He's a very shadowy, weird character in the original, and I loved that he was developed more than you average fictional parent.

    1. Yes, the setting was great-I really loved the magical backstory. And at first I thought the father was going to be a flat "bad guy" character and all the blame could be put on him but in the end I was impressed by the depth of his character, and how it encourages kids to look at things from their parents' perspective-something that is hard to do anyway, but especially in this culture of child-focused media that tends to blame a lot on parents being too controlling.

      But yeah as far as the ending goes-SPOILER ALERT-I really didn't buy that the sisters all of a sudden had magical powers, strong enough to bring their father BACK TO LIFE. And the Keeper, who had this really evil and creepy background, all of a sudden became not that intimidating

  4. I was also disappointed with the way the whole soul catching thing played out. I was expecting (especially after all the great backstory) Keeper to have done something slightly more sinister than just impersonate their mother. I feel like the author could have worked harder on the climax, not only to make it more satisfying, but to make it match up with what she wrote before.