Friday, February 3, 2012

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined just may be my favorite new retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Princess Azalea is the eldest of 11 sisters, and she loves to dance. But on the night of the Yule ball, her mother goes into labor early, and passes away giving birth to baby Lily. Now she and her sisters are cast into mourning, and pushed away by their father, the king, as he grieves for his lost wife--until they find a magical passage, and a way of dancing in secret. But their defiant dancing comes with a price, and they find they may be in deeper than they bargained for.

I've got to say, just first of all -- it's no little feat to make 12 princesses all distinctive characters, and Heather Dixon does it really well. Reading this, I felt like I knew all the girls. Sure, some of them stood out more than others, but none of them faded into the background so much that the rare mention brought a "who?" to my mind.

I didn't feel like the world-building was completely filled out in this book. It's a fictional kingdom, surrounded by other fictional lands, but they celebrate Christmas, and many of the cultural details that get mentioned are very non-fictional. However, it wasn't so distracting that I couldn't finish the book --

-- in fact I'd say it makes me speak more highly of the plot and characters, that the minor irritation of world-building did not stop me from devouring this book in delight. More than that, when I was done with the book, I wanted to go back again, and visit the sisters and their home.

It really is an enjoyable read, and I recommend it for fans of this particular story, or just fairy tale lovers in general. Also a good one to recommend to teens or reluctant readers because it's very engrossing.

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