Angela's Reviews > Entwined

Entwined by Heather Dixon
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Dec 21, 10

bookshelves: magic, young-adult, retelling, arc, high-fantasy, read-in-2010
Read in December, 2010

Whimsical but slow fairy tale retelling, 2.5 stars

Heather Dixon’s fiction debut, ENTWINED, offers a retelling of the Grimm Brothers’ tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Following the death of their mother, Azalea and her eleven sisters are left nearly abandoned as their father, the King, goes off to war. Though they’re in mourning, the girls long to dance just like their mother had taught them. When the girls discover a magic-filled passage to an otherworldly pavilion, they begin to spend each night dancing to exhaustion under the watchful gaze of the Keeper. Though he appears kindly at first, the Keeper soon becomes a frightening presence that may endanger the girls and the kingdom itself.

Fans of fairy-tale retellings will likely appreciate ENTWINED’s take on the Twelve Dancing Princesses, as Dixon’s version makes use of many elements from the original, including twelve girls, an invisibility cloak, and suitors who have three nights to uncover the princesses’ secret. This story offers its own whimsical touches like a magical tea set with a spunky attitude, girls named alphabetically after different plants, and a focus on the intricacies of dance steps and curtsies. Azalea comes across as a likable protagonist, and the story touches on the complexity of father-daughter relationships and how different people grieve. Even with dark notes, including a villain who is truly creepy at times, the story is also very clean and appropriate for younger readers.

Though ENTWINED had these strengths as a basis for its tale, it never caught me up in its story. Along with slow pacing for the first 400 pages, the book was too long for the story it contained. The plot sagged under the weight of the author’s ambitious attempts to characterize every character, and this led to limited character development overall. The girls’ changing relationship with their father seemed uneven, and the romances didn’t have much development or spark. The attempts to sound historical felt cliché at times, and I don’t think this novel will resonate with many young adult readers because it remains too grounded in the original tale. This book felt much more like a middle-grade read because of the very chaste romances and little in the way of truly scary parts.

Fans of the original Grimms’ tale will likely enjoy this story, even if it takes a while to get through it. Unfortunately, I didn’t experience that enjoyment. In future books, I hope that Dixon provides tighter pacing, more character development, and a bit more passion and danger.

Note: This review refers to an advance reader's copy.
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Pamela ☼where's my aspirin☼ Tee I see we came to more-or-less the same conclusion.

Nice review.


Angela @Pam: I just checked out your review, and it seems that we really did come to nearly the same conclusion! I appreciate that your review mentioned the repeated use of phrases like about sucking in the cheeks and digging in her nails, as those nagged at me too.


Tabitha Olson Wow, I don't think we've ever had such completely different reactions to a book before! I really enjoyed this story, but I'm also a great lover of dance so I got a bit swept away with that. I'm sure that added much to my enjoyment, and helped me overlook the story's weaknesses. :)


Angela @Tabitha: Hmm, I wonder what our biggest difference in opinion *has* been so far. I know we've disagreed on other things but we're always respectful about it so we probably just don't remember!

I'm also a great lover of dance and understand it but that wasn't enough to pull this book into more enjoyable territory for me. My main problem was that it told a simple story in entirely too long of a manner and that the character descriptions were too repetitive. I'm glad to hear that you liked it so well, though!


Tabitha Olson You know, we probably have had other differences but it's never been a big deal... :)

I'm really not sure why, but this story really swept me up. I had a few moments of 'get on with it,' but not many. Mostly I was glued to the pages and couldn't wait to see the story unfold. It was even clear *how* the story was going to unfold, but I was still fine with that. I'm having a terrible time trying to figure out why... :) I guess it was just so *fun* that I focused on that. Or, maybe I just read it at the right time. Who knows! :)


Angela @Tabitha: No need to justify your enjoyment or love of this book! I'm glad that you and others did enjoy it. In addition to feeling it was too long, I was reading it as part of an ARC tour where I had a deadline to pass it on. That might have impacted how I felt about the length and the book in general. Had it not been for that outside pressure, I probably would have rated it a 3-star, I'm guessing.


Tabitha Olson Ah, yeah. That makes perfecy sense. And I read this on the heels of a book I was really dissappointed in, so I'm sure that made this book shine all the more.

Funny how life impacts these things. :)


Angela @Tabitha: Hmm, now I'm curious as to what book you read before it that was really disappointing. Was it WITHER? Inquiring minds want to know. ;)


Tabitha Olson Yes it was. :)


Angela Thanks for confirming my suspicions. ;)


Tabitha Olson No problem. :)


I am Bastet I feel much the same as you do about the book, Angela. Especially the part about it feeling middle grade, and about it being way too long for the small plot.


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