Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairytale Retelling
Recommended for: MS & Beyond
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.
Entwined is an adaptation of the "Twelve Dancing Princess" fairytale, and as such it really reminded me of both Wildwood Dancing, and especially Princess of the Midnight Ball, two other books that are adapted from the same story. In fact, if you've read Jessica Day George's Princess of the Midnight Ball, you will almost certainly enjoy this novel as well. They're both incredibly similar in format and in the execution of the story.
For me at least, it's essential for a book to have a likable main character in order for there to be a good reading experience. I think that Azalea was a fleshed-out, well-written character. She's certainly easy to like - incredibly responsible, for one thing. Like in the original tale, there are 12 sisters in all, and I have to commend Heather Dixon for creating so many distinct personalities. This was one aspect that I thought Entwined handled better than POTMB.
First and foremost, though, this novel is about family. I actually got way more of a Sound of Music vibe than anything else. The way the girls relate to their cold, distant father is like a spot-on rendition of the von Trapps. In all honesty, I wasn't expecting the novel to focus so heavily on Azalea's family dynamics. There's nothing wrong with it, except that I was expecting more of a paranormal read, just because of the nature of the original tale.
I will say that the "supernatural elements" (for lack of a better phrase) were a bit lackluster. Contrary to what Aprilynne Pike blurbed, this book hardly has any magical elements at all, and I do feel just the tiniest bit misled about this story's premise because of it. The above synopsis, in my opinion, sounds way more sinister than the book actually is.
Also, this book is just so long, clocking in at over 400 pages, and I'd say that less than 100 pages dealt with any magic, mayhem, or mischief. Compare this with Wildwood Dancing, where the supernatural elements were rather pronounced.
In terms of the romance...it was practically nonexistent. For some of you, that's going to sound pretty promising. For others, not so much. Hey, I actually prefer it when romance isn't the main factor in a novel, BUT I do want something! There is a love interest, but even I (with my tendency to love 'nice guy' characters) will admit that he was pretty lukewarm.
The other movie that Entwined eventually reminded me of was Labyrinth, mainly due to the interactions between Azalea and the Keeper. 'Kay, here's where I ended up being really surprised by the direction the story took. I guess the synopsis had me anticipating the Keeper to be some dark, tortured soul who's ultimately the victim of circumstances...but no, he's just a downright creepy dude. His revelation was also lackluster, in addition to disappointing. When I realized the full extent of his characterization, I was bummed, to say the least. Is that a spoiler? Well, I don't particularly think so. I'm not giving away any specifics or anything.
Entwined is a decent, clean read that I think is certainly worth your time, if you like fairytale adaptations, period settings, or if you're looking for a light summer read. I do want to say that the author's extensive details about various world dances is what made the book for me. I had youtube popped up the whole time I was reading, and any time she'd mention a dance, I'd type it in to see what it looked like. I was definitely fascinated by that.