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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.

472 pages, Hardcover

First published March 29, 2011

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About the author

Heather Dixon Wallwork

5 books1,671 followers
Heather Dixon Wallwork has been a story artist for Disney, a writer for HarperCollins, and currently works as an animation director in Salt Lake City. She is the author of the books "Entwined" and "Illusionarium". You can find more of her stories and comics at www.story-monster.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,221 reviews
Profile Image for Anna Jacqueline.
16 reviews
July 6, 2018
I will begin this review the way all great reviews are begun. I will make a Mean Girls reference.

And that is to say, how do I even begin to explain Entwined?

I've grown accustomed to the constant shit storm that seems to blow my a way 90% of the time that I read a YA novel, so, suffice to say, I was more than surprised when reading Entwined.

The novel is based on the fairy tale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, or, The Shoes That Were Danced To Pieces, but with, as all YA novels promise in their usually lacking summaries: A Special Twist!

I have come to fear the words, 'a', 'special', and 'twist', separately, but especially together. Because this usually tends to translate to: author-takes-cool-original-idea-and-mutilates-it. So when I discovered le special twist in Entwined, and got past the summary and began to understand what this book is actually about, I was sold.

To get to the point, Entwined takes the fairy tale, and adds some shit. The twelve princesses (all named after flowers and alphabetically from birth - a very helpful tool when it comes to remembering them all) lose their mother at the beginning of the book, catapulting them into mourning, making them even more distant to the King/Papa, and of course making them all very sad. But the real turning point is when you realize that because of mourning (which usually lasts for a year) no dancing is allowed. This is when shit gets real.

These girls love to dance. They love to dance. So this is simply one rule they will not abide, even if it means taking, er, magical passageways through their fireplace to break it. Enter plot, stage left.

So they meet this guy Creeper Keeper, and, well you know the rules. Too good to be true, etc., etc. Also, let me say how relieved I was when Keeper wasn't a serious love interest. He is a crazy, sadistic fuck, and Dixon keeps it that way. I was also happily surprised by how quickly Azalea realized this, mainly because the protagonists reaction times in most YA novels to danger is worryingly slow. But not Azalea, nope. I adore her.

The plot moves swiftly along, allowing some things that should always happen in novels to take place. For example: Character Development. Ah, the characters. Definitely the best part of this book.

I loved every last one of the sisters. It's hard to give twelve girls the same amount of page time and development, but I swear, you feel like you know every last one of them. I can still, months after finishing this book, recall all of their names and likes and dislikes and character traits. That is incredible. Dixon did, however, focus on the three eldest sisters (Azalea, Bramble, and Clover) primarily, but this is due to the accessibility/depth allowed by their relative maturity and--romance!

There is nothing that pisses me off more in YA novels or frankly any novel than cringe-y romances, so when I say I loved every last romantic subplot in this book, I mean I loved every last romantic subplot in this book. They're perfectly subtle, and they're endearing in well drawn ways; they are also perfect devices when it comes to the development of Azalea, Bramble, and Clover. Usually, I would be a bit hesitant about the romantic plot driving the young girls' personal development, but it's done thoughtfully here, and in no way favors the male characters or the girls' connection to them over the girls themselves.

On a side note, I adored the Clover and Fairweller romance. Definitely my favorite one of the bunch. Something about them just got me, I'm not sure what it is exactly. Possibly because I've always had a major soft spot for romances with men like Fairweller? Very cold and composed (actually Dixon makes you suspect he might be a bad guy for a minute, which is fun) but when you see him with Clover he's just...wonderful. And I've always loved relationships like that, where being with the person you love truly does make you a better and more likable person. It was very Austenian, as were many parts of the novel, and it's a thematic homage Dixon does well. Also, he is a bit old for her, and I have a weird tendency to enjoy May-December romances (they may not be that far apart in age, though. From what Dixon tells us, Clover is in her mid-teens and Fairweller is probably in his mid-late twenties?) when done correctly. And it is. It's done so perfectly well. And yes, I'm fangirling over these two, but I really do love them - every scene with them was a delight, as were the family members reactions to the relationship.

What I also loved about the romances is that they take a backseat to the princesses' relationship with the King, which made me laugh, cry, and get goosebumps, sometimes all at the same time. Needless to say, it was just lovely.

The writing was also quite nice. It flowed smoothly, although it was a bit vague for my taste, lacking description at times, but I did enjoy that Heather Dixon wasn't describing what everyone looked like and what clothes they were wearing every other page. The novel could also probably use some cutting, but I never found myself bored, so I guess that's not the greatest crime.

To continue to ramble about characters I love, now: One great thing about all the girls is that they're self-respecting and tough in their own ways. You mainly see this with Azalea, Bramble, and Clover, but it is definitely conveyed that none of these girls are absolute wall flowers (haha, pun!). For instance, Clover, shy, stuttering, beautiful Clover, stands her ground to Fairweller when it comes to their getting married (yes, I'm back on Clover and Fairweller). As much as she wants to elope with him, there is absolutely no way she'll marry him unless her sisters are there. That was also a great part of that romance. I'm not a fan of of female character progression revolving around a man, but with Clover it was so well done. Especially when you find out that she has had a crush on him for years now (which I figured out pretty early on - there is a really delightful hint, actually - but I can see how you could miss it) and when she's telling Azalea why she loves him and all the things he's done for their family that are so loyal and how he's really a very kind and generous person, oh, god, it was beautiful. I was just so darn endeared by this whole book, it was almost upsetting.

There are many moments like this that show strength of character with Azalea and Bramble as well, which, really, I could go on about for days. But yeah. Great characters.

Basically, just read this book. The world Dixon creates for you is beautiful and chilling, the characters are lively and interesting, and the prose is a cut above the rest (mainly in YA terms, but I'd say Dixon definitely has a knack for storytelling). I loved it, and plan on rereading it, possibly more than once.
Profile Image for Erica (storybookend).
359 reviews284 followers
May 9, 2014
Oh, what absolute glorious beauty and fun and rapture! I’m all in a flutters, I can’t stop smiling and swooning and laughing. I had absolutely no doubt that I would love this book, and I did, oh so very much. So much more than I imagined. Immensely, completely, utterly. It captivated me from the very beginning, and kept a tight hold throughout the entire story! I’m still caught up in it! This book is without a doubt one of my new absolute favorite books ever!! And rightly earned. Just so. The dancer inside me danced and soared and leapt with the princesses as they danced, as they lived and grew and loved. The fairytale lover I am was enchanted with this beautiful retelling of my favorite fairytale. And the absurdly hopeless romantic in me swooned at the heart fluttering, brilliant, joyful, beautiful romances. I loved this book. I loved it so so much!

You know the telling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, or The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces by the Grimm Brothers. Entwined was a beautiful, fresh take on this tale of old. It stayed true to most of the tale, but differed in a few things, and adding an intriguing, magical, dangerous twist. 12 Princesses, whose mother just died, begin their year of mourning with the King, their father. Donning black dresses every day, curtains pulled to smother any sunlight, no going outside, no dancing, no suitors, no talking of mother. The King is utterly disheartened and depressed at the death of his beloved wife and queen. He offs to war leaving his daughters, one of which just newly born the night her mother died, bitter and saddened at his abrupt departure. It is while the King is away that they find the enchanted staircase leading them to the captivating pavilion where they dance their hearts out and shoes to pieces every night. An oath is taken that prevents any girl from telling where they go to anyone. But danger lurks in this enchanted world under the castle, and the girls have to find a way to thwart it, finding all sorts of love along the way. Love for each other, for their papa, for dancing, and for men;)

Each princess is named after a flower alphabetically, starting with the oldest at Azalea, and ending with the newborn Lily. I loved each and every girl. They all had a part, each one was able to show her colors and to let the reader get to know them. Some didn’t have as much spotlight, but they were never forgotten. And they all shared such a strong sisterly, loving bond, deepened through dancing and holding their secrets close to their hearts. This book is told from Azalea’s perspective, but each sister’s lives were entwined so much you always caught a glimpse of all the sisters no matter who the story was focusing on at the moment.

Now for the romance. Ooh, the romance! There were several here, for the eldest sisters, each one as breathtaking and beautiful and romantic as the next. As the eldest, Azalea doesn’t really get a say in who her husband will be, since parliament votes on who will be the new king, and hence, chosen as Azalea’s husband. So naturally she fears that she’ll never find love, but she finds herself falling in love with a handsome, swoon worthy, disheveled man. Bramble feared she would never marry for love because who could love someone as headstrong and loudmouthed as she. But she did, with the sweetest, most endearing, funny man. Even Clover, the shyest of the bunch finds love with an unsuspecting man.

Entwined is a divinely beautiful fairytale full of magic and love and humor. Oh my gosh, the humor! It was downright hilarious! I couldn’t stop laughing at the silliness of it, it just had those perfect moments tweaked, or drenched with humor that for some reason just caught me and threw me into a giggling and burst out loud laughing frenzy. I don’t know if others will find it as hilarious as I did, but it was such an amusing, frolicking ride for me, I don’t care if I’m the only one :D I give most of the credit to Bramble. Thank heavens for her ill-mannered, unruly, outspoken, fiery personality. It definitely livened up the reading.

The ending was superbly beautiful and perfect and heart melting. I read it like three times, and then hugged the book to my chest, grinning, and couldn’t even stand the thought of putting it down to write this review. Ah, I just want to read it again! If you love fairytales, of any kind, READ THIS BOOK!! Read Entwined. Glory in it, swoon over it, laugh at it, smile, love, lose yourself in the magic and enchantment. I was absolutely and utterly riveted and enchanted. This book was perfect for me, and I will forever love it and treasure it.

What are you waiting for? Go read it. Now.
Profile Image for Minli.
359 reviews
November 10, 2011
I need to re-read Wildwood Dancing to cleanse my brain of the mess that is Entwined.

This book has one really fabulous idea. That idea is the description and significance of the Entwine, a fictional court dance where the gentleman and lady begin at opposite ends of a sash. The gentleman tries to 'entwine' the lady, while the lady spends the dance avoiding such capture. It was clever and witty and I wished there was more magic integrated with dance in this book, but alas, it was not to be had.

I hate to seem mean-spirited, but that was everything that I found appealing about this book--it's potential. It is set in some pseudo-historical society, period ambiguous. Horses were named after English writers (Dickens and some others) which I found 'cutesy'. And do not get me started on the magic. Confusing and not very compelling.

None of the characters stood out to me, either, which was a real shame. They were all bland and lukewarm, all except Keeper, who went from a possibly intriguing enigma to a cartoonish villain. All of the twelve princesses (yes, twelve, and yes, princesses) had flower names in ALPHABETICAL ORDER which reminds me of that Ann M. Martin book I read when I was 9, Ten Kids, No Pets, or something. All of the younger princesses blended together in my mind with no difference in personality.

Worst of all was the pacing. At nearly 500 pages, the first two thirds was spent about these princesses not being able to dance because they were in mourning after their mother passes away in childbirth, WHINE WHINE WHINE. Not a single one of them was self-aware, not even the oldest.

I think the author tried too hard to focus on the 'fairytale' portion and not the 'retelling', and it's simply too hard to novelize a fairytale into nearly 500 pages without some sort of depth. I skimmed the rest of it. Yuck. Pretty much the only thing this book has going for it is the cover, which is very pretty.
Profile Image for Shantelle.
Author 2 books356 followers
March 4, 2017
***Beware, this is a fangirly review, so there might be some slight spoilers about.***

Entwined was a fairytale from beginning to end. Enchanting, humorous, charming, and sweet. Beauty swirled through every page. And though there were pockets of intense darkness, this book, overall, was a swoon-worthy tale with heartfelt lessons and giggles and loveliness. I was grinning like a fool as I read the final pages - torn between the desire to laugh or sob. This book, my friends, THIS BOOK! My second time reading it, and I simply adored it.

Azalea is the eldest princess; older sister to eleven unique and endearing sisters who a lot of the time sometimes get out of hand. Unexpectedly, they are thrust into a mourning period, and forbidden to dance. But they need to dance! -And are willing to embrace strange situations in order to do what they love.

The characters. The storyline. The relationships. The dancing. The mannerism. Everything! Entwined is brilliant, in the sweetest of ways! It's actually a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, (which happens to be one of my favorite fairytales.) And such a retelling! The best one I've ever read for this particular tale, indeed! I think it was set in a Victorian-like era, which was delightful. The men wore top hats - that's one fact that stood out to me, hehe. It was fun! And there were all these other lovely details that pointed to the Victorian era as well, I believe. Absolutely scrumptious, historically-wise (except for some modern-day phrases that popped up once or twice).

And, as it's based off The Twelve Dancing Princesses, there's lots of dancing! So many different dances touched on! I loved it! I absolutely loved it! I like dancing around, and watching all manners of dancing, from folk dance to ballet. So it was very fun to learn about different dances and watch as the sisters learned new steps and all that wondrous stuff. One of my favorite aspects of Entwined! Perfectly beautiful! ^_^

The sisters. Azalea, the oldest, is our main character. The two right under her, Bramble and Clover, had bits of their stories told as well, though the story was never told from their POV. As for the rest, some are mentioned more than others, but they're all usually there, clustered behind Azalea, eyes bright and smiles mischievous sweet. *grins* Lily, the baby, is often gnawing on someone's pant leg ... hehe. I love her. I love that there's so many sisters, and that they're all named after flowers (alphabetically), and their feminine ways and distinct womanliness, and that Azalea's kind of like their mother hen (except when they don't want to listen to her), and they tease and look out for each other in such a sisterly way, and they make up big schemes together (sometimes much to Azalea's chagrin) ...
I'm simply delighted with the non-stereotypical characters of Entwined. Azalea is not the typical hard, tough, kick-butt heroine. She's motherly. She's sweet. She's proper and ladylike. She hurts when her father is indifferent toward the sisters. She's protective. She's emotional. She appreciates getting rescued when in need (though she's mortified at how much of a disaster she looks each time). In short, she's kind of like me, and I love her! *hugs Azalea* I understand her. I connect with her. She's feminine. She's a lady! *sigh* How refreshing to have a woman character that insists on acting like a woman!
Mr. Bradford, the King, Lord Teddie, Minister Fairweller. I LOVED THEM. They are definitely not the strikingly strong, devastatingly handsome heroes with silver tongues that make the women swoon. In fact, they're rather the opposite. Clumsy, rumpled, and a bit awkward. Sometimes they don't know how to show a girl that they truly care about her. But they end up being completely lovable, unique, and real. Mr. Bradford is my favorite. He is so sweet. Thoughtful. Compassionate. He leads, in a quiet way. His crooked cravat and rumpled hair are even endearing. *grins* What a fine young man. He's perfect in an imperfect way, and I love that. Every time he appears, my heart is happy! ^_^ And he totally is a hero! You'll see why! *wink* Lord Teddie is hilarious. And silly. He makes me giggle. And he's wonderful! The King ... I don't even know what to say. I'll touch on him again later in this review. Minister Fairweller, I knew there was something good about him. *smiles*
All the princesses are so funny! From fiery Bramble, to baby Lily. They dance, and curtsy, and spy, and rebel. They cry, and bicker, and plan outlandish escapades.

I was so touched by the father/daughter relationships explored in this book. It's like this journey to love. To healing. To realization. People mess up and make mistakes. Fathers do. The twelve sisters are hurt and angry. They decide to rebel against the King, strict and demanding and indifferent as he is. Because he doesn't care about them! At first, you're angry with the King too, and feeling for the girls' hurt hearts. But as the story progresses, a different side is shown. I LOVE this journey to healing between a fumbling father and his many daughters. It hurt. It was hopeful. It was tentatively humorous. It was tender. Beautiful. .

The romances were perfection. Clean. And adorable. Old-fashioned. And soul deep. They made me laugh. They made me sigh. They made my heart nearly burst with warm, bubbly, happy emotions. <3 <3 <3
I loved the King being all protective and fatherly. Throwing men out on their ear. XD

Onto a vastly darker note. As sweet, and bubbly, and humorous as Entwined is, it does have those scenes were the villain reigns. And the villain in this story is very evil and yucky. Though a lot of the gross, ghastly stories told and things the girls see are lies and illusions - they still make their point, and give you a little chill. There's frightening magic in this story that the villain wields. And there's this "magic" of swearing on silver or swearing on blood that binds you to your oath. (The villain is the only one who swears on blood or uses magic). . So though the creepiness went much too far in my opinion, I still felt like, all in all, it made sense and it ended perfectly.
But yes, big caution to younger readers and sensitive people. I was fine, but I hesitate to recommend it to my twelve and fifteen-year-old sisters, because they're not used of reading such ghastliness, and it's just not necessary to read, in my opinion! I will probably go through Entwined and black out, with a marker, some phrases and whatnot that I feel take away from the overall innocence and beauty of this story.

I almost felt there was an allegory or lesson to the whole villain and dancing theme. He was so darkly handsome. He talked so smooth. He lured them in, despite their inner hesitation. Also, they felt abandoned by their father, and so turned somewhere else for comfort. I feel like it's a big thing when girls, especially, don't feel loved by their father. It can have some ghastly consequences, and Entwined kind of showed that. Very interesting and thought-provoking.

What else can I say? Besides the creepiness that comes time and again, Entwined by Heather Dixon is an absolute DELIGHT. It's fairytale at perfection. I LOVE IT. *huggles book* Just everything. Just ... EEP! And the ending was loveliness in itself, with a few giggles and heart hiccups added in.

I don't know, my friends. This was just my kind of book. After reading it a second time, I adore it even more. <3
Profile Image for Sarah.
237 reviews1,096 followers
December 4, 2018
Eathesbury is a small, poor kingdom, whose royal family pour their meager funds into keeping up appearances. The eleven princesses—ranging from sixteen-year-old heir to the throne Azalea to two-year-old Kale—make do with drafty bedchambers and hand-me-down clothes. But thanks to their dance-obsessed mother, they know every possible way to twirl across a ballroom floor.

The King is preoccupied with war, trade, and other royal business (R.B., as the girls call it) at the expense of his daughters, not even the one who will inherit his crown. Not one of the princesses, not even the little ones, call him Papa. The warm and gracious Queen, on the other hand, is always there for the sisters, and they adore her.

But alas, Mother succumbs to one of those nameless book diseases, leaving behind a twelfth princess for the other girls to look after. Her last act before her death was to secure a promise from Azalea, that the Princess Royale would keep her younger sisters out of danger.

The King marches off to war with a nearby kingdom before his wife is cold in her grave. He has forbidden all forms of merriment during the mourning period, but his daughters know their mother would want them to dance in her memory. They’ll get in trouble if they’re caught dancing on the palace grounds…

…but the pavilion at the heart of the magical garden in the basement surely doesn’t count.

All the girls want to dance and laugh again, but the older ones are also drawn to the guardian of that enchanted place—a graceful, black-haired youth, who has no name except the title Keeper. What exactly does he keep? Why does he keep it? Can the sisters trust him?

The answers are decidedly unpleasant.

Content Advisory
Violence: A man is fatally shot and bleeds heavily. People get their hands broken; reference to a historical figure getting hers chopped off. People are dragged over floors or struck across the face. More under Nightmare Fuel.

Sex: Keeper acts increasingly creepy with Azalea. On one occasion he kisses her while she’s struggling to break free of him.

Language: If you’re Meg March, this book is full of bad words, including “Blast!” and “Great Scot!” If you’re anyone else, there’s nothing to worry about.

Substance Abuse: Nothing.

Nightmare Fuel: The High King not only murdered a number of people, he used magic to trap their souls within his palace, crushed between panes of cold mirror-glass or confined to his dancing lawn with their eyes and/or mouths sewn shut.

Keeper can take on any shape he likes, and once tries to be kind of seductive with Azalea while wearing her mother’s likeness. Ew. Another time he transforms into such a good copy of Az herself that even her sisters don’t know which one is the real her.

A handsome youth morphs into a decrepit elder before turning to dust with the weight of his years and evil deeds. There’s a reference to drinking blood.

The abovementioned horror elements are especially jarring given the rather sugary tone of the rest of the book.

Politics & Religion: This fantasy world is a lot like nineteenth-century Europe; it even appears to be Christian. That said, a piece of silver seems to be a more effective ward against dark magic than a sacramental in this universe.

I tried reading this book awhile back and it didn’t click, so I’m glad I reread it. It’s got much more going for it than I noticed the first time.

Entwined is hard to put down, thanks to its detailed and charming setting, its clipped tempo, and the heartwarming scenes of sisterhood. .

Dixon, now Dixon Wallwork, steals from the best when creating the Wentworth princesses. Azalea is Meg March, dignified and pretty, with a weakness for soft-spoken brown-eyed men. Bramble is Jo, melodramatic and rowdy and given to flash fires of rage. Clover, the impossibly kind and shy one, is a lot like Beth, although she has a secret not unlike Meg’s (no spoilers). Delphinium is blonde and flouncy and whiny and likes to draw, so Amy without the tantrums. Eve comes from Pride & Prejudice, a younger and much less pompous Mary Bennet. The cloud of little sisters who follow them everywhere begging for song and dance call to mind the younger von Trapps in The Sound of Music. These are all great things to be reminded of.

March sisters

Bennet sisters

von Trapp kids

The scenes of the sisters being sisters are perfect. Unfortunately, the supernatural elements don’t seem as well-planned and don’t always fit with the rest of the story.

I understand that the girls wanted nothing more than to dance again, so it made sense that the first time they stumbled into the magic garden, they went straight for the pavilion. But it struck me as rather odd that they never ventured beyond it.

Other retellings of the Twelve Dancing Princesses usually offer an explanation for this. In Wildwood Dancing, the girls were under the protection of the Faerie Queen, and risked being carried off by vampires if they stepped beyond the borders of her small realm. In Princess of the Midnight Ball, the sisters didn’t want to be in the underground realm at all; they just did their sentences on the dance floor and went home.

But what excuse do the Wentworths have for not exploring? If their secret passage had brought them to Narnia instead of Keeper’s realm, they would probably have just danced in a ring around the Lamppost until someone happened upon them.

Lucy at the Lamppost

Then there’s Keeper. We can figure out from early on that there’s something off about him. If he had nothing to hide, he wouldn’t have flooded his park in a desperate effort to make the girls stay and listen to him.

That said, “desperate and melodramatic” does not necessarily equal “pure evil bent on taking over the kingdom.” The archetype Keeper first appears to be is not the archetype he winds up being.

A brief guide to the main types of villains one finds in the fantasy genre

I. The Ancient Eeeeevil Rising Again


II. The Political Megalomaniac


III. The Corrupted Good Guy



IV. The Diabolical Being Who Wants Power and Revenge


V. The Sleazebag with Bad Intentions Toward the Heroine


VI. The Seemingly Wholesome Person Who Had Everyone Fooled


VII. The Troubled Young(ish) Individual Who is Manipulated by Dark Forces, Is Probably Cursed, and Usually Becomes a Good Guy






Obviously a character can be more than one of these. But Keeper floats between categories to a maddening degree, at least if you’re fussy about this stuff.

The lack of consistency renders Keeper a bit flimsy, like Prince Hans in Frozen, who was obviously not originally conceived as an evil character. They’re just evil because “ooh, what a twist!” even though neither is much of a twist.

We know right away that Keeper must be the High King; there’s no other figure in the back-story who would need to be coy about his identity. But the tone of the “history” is propagandistic. I was sure we would learn that the tale of the High King vs. Harold I had been heavily abridged, rather like in Prince Caspian, where our main character grows up being told that his ancestors brought civilization to beasts and wild men, only to learn that they were actually fantastic racists who hunted the many peoples of Narnia almost to extinction.

But Keeper’s first menacing act—raising the brook so the girls have to stay in the pavilion and introduce themselves to him—isn’t anything that the Beast or Erik the Opera Ghost wouldn’t have done. It’s a selfish use of magic to frighten, but the girls were never in any danger of drowning. It also implies that he’s lonely, and may need True Love to lift his curse. None of this turns out to be true.

To make another comparison with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (I know, I know, but the stories have some similarities), let’s see how that evil magician villain is introduced. The first thing Jadis does upon meeting Edmund is almost deal him a killing blow with her wand. She barely stops herself, and her overlay of kindness is hasty and thin. Edmund, being an insecure eleven-year-old boy who hasn’t had dessert in two years because war rations, lacks the clarity of mind to see through her, but the reader knows that she is vicious. Her archetype is consistent from beginning to end.

Other than Keeper, the young men in this book are pleasant but insubstantial. Fairweller can get away with it, since he’s not in it that much. So can Lord Teddie—he only has one note, but that one note is Tigger in a top hat, so you can’t stay mad at him.


But it is a problem with Mr. Bradford, who is the love interest for the main character and should really have more than one personality trait (in his case, being adorable). He’s a lot like John Brooke, who was fine as the suitor of the MC’s sister. But the love interest of the MC should really be livelier and more detailed. This guy is so agreeable and vague, he makes Raoul de Chagny look like Eugenides of Eddis.

This book has delightful main characters and a perfect confection of a pseudo-Victorian setting. However, the horror elements seemed out-of-nowhere and the villain couldn’t make up his mind what sort of villain he was.

That said, more of the book works than doesn’t. Recommended for fairytale fans.
46 reviews
December 4, 2013
Azalea and her eleven sisters are in mourning for their mother. Their father, the king, is inexplicably cold toward them, presumably because he's got too much manpain over losing his wife to bother with anyone else's feelings. Bereft of their father and mother both, the girls turn to dancing in an attempt to remember happier times, except dancing is forbidden when you're in mourning - so their dance teacher is sent away, their endless supply of dance-slippers dries up, and all their clothes are dyed black. Enter Keeper. Keeper maintains a magical forest beneath the castle, in which a grand pavilion stands ready to supply the princesses with music, food, and solitude. Of course, the Keeper turns out to be of the moustache-twirling variety, and it all goes south from there.

There are elements to this story that positively glitter with potential: the beautiful underground pavilion with its lush descriptions and sinister host; the stories of the dead king's maimed victims; lord Teddie in all his awesome glory. Unfortunately, these things are all largely ignored in the main plot, or else thrown around like ornamental confetti to dazzle the reader in between increasingly tedious developments.

Let's start with Azalea. She's a listless main character, and watching the story unfold through her eyes is a claustrophobic experience. She's stuck in a castle, she's stuck in mourning, she's stuck in a patriarchy, she's stuck in a co-dependent family, she's stuck in the role of default-parent to her younger siblings. I kept waiting for her to break free, but she's so perfectly groomed for her role as princess that by the time we're halfway through the book it's pretty clear she would never dream of suggesting that she could be queen without a husband, or else choose her own husband, or abdicate, or do much of anything. Even toward the climax of the book, Azalea's father literally has to take her by the hand and thrust her "weapon" for her. She's just that ridiculously passive.

All she and her sisters think about is dancing, clothes, and boys. They have a private teacher who's supposed to give them lessons every day, but they let him doze at the front of the classroom while they discuss dancing, clothes and boys some more. Presumably the younger sisters don't even know how to read, but who'll care as long as they can dance?

As for the sisters, they're mostly the same character--a sort of blob of cutesy kids who never make much fuss--except for Clover and Bramble. Bramble, I feel, would have worked a little better as the protagonist of this story. Or, better yet, Lord Teddie. Lord Teddie investigating the mystery of the twelve dancing princesses is a book I'd read and reread in a heartbeat. He's the only sane presence in the whole book, a sort of Bertie Wooster character whose reactions to all the melodrama is spot on (and usually hilarious) - and his attraction to Bramble is believable (though I didn't care for the notion that since Bramble was too immature to accept his proposal, her father should accept for her), whereas Clover's boyfriend is a pseudo-hebephile creeper and Azalea's is so bland I kept forgetting his name.

Clover is a train wreck. She's pretty. She's sweet. She likes corsets (so comfy!). Everyone adores her. Aaaaand she goes into rages during which, for example, she massacres a sentient tea set and drowns the feebly struggling remains. When her love interest is sent a letter by a woman more close to his age, she goes into another fit, tears the letter up, and decides no one's going to marry him but herself. She's 13/14 at this point, and the man in question is probably somewhere in his late twenties or early thirties. At fifteen, she's embroiled in a secret affair with this man, who's trying to convince her to elope (because that's any grown man's rational response to a young teenager throwing herself at him, apparently). I suppose we're expected to find this romantic? She has no education, she's seen nothing of the world, experienced very little, and she doesn't have any friends outside her own family... so, presumably, her gentleman is drawn to her "inner sweetness", or whatever justification old men use when they want to marry pliant young girls. And no, I don't care if "that's the way things were back then". It's gross. Azalea even briefly reflects on how Clover's basically fallen for the first guy to ever show her an ounce of kindness, but then lets it go, because this isn't the kind of book where girls do anything to resist the status quo. Whoever gets the dreamiest/richest husband wins (and the prize is probably more dreary descriptions of dancing and swooning and weeping).

Stylistically, I felt like the writer was trying very hard to be Ysabeau Wilce, which, unfortunately, only works for Ysabeau Wilce. As a result, the lovely quirky bits and the sometimes absolutely brilliant descriptions (loved the liquid pearls in the underground forest!) soon gave way to Azalea spending an indecent amount of time "crying out" her lines. Exclamation points abound! There's crying, weeping, whinging, gasping, more crying, tantrums... it's exhausting and degrading for everyone involved. By the time the Big Confrontation finally happens, the character's behaviour resembles nothing so much as the flailing of an old-timey silent film star, pounding her dainty fists ineffectually at the bad guy's chest until her dad and assorted boyfriends show up to save the womenfolk. At this point, I threw up a little in my mouth.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Anne.
3,922 reviews69.3k followers
January 24, 2015
4.5 stars
Entwined is a retelling of the German fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I'm gonna be honest here, it's never been one of my favorites. Shhhh!
However, this author manages to take a rather thin story about...well, twelve dancing princesses, and turn it into something really interesting! In fact, other than Bella at Midnight, this is probably my favorite retelling.

There's magic, romance, an evil villain, a cursed castle, daddy issues, sisterly love, a rug that likes to eat people, and yes...dancing. This story has it all!

As an added bonus, the author doesn't bore you to death describing scenery!
Profile Image for Lissa.
Author 19 books175 followers
June 12, 2012
I’m not really into retellings. I’m not. I’d rather an author tell me an original tale spun from their imagination. Sometimes I feel retellings are cheating.

However, I quite enjoyed Cinderby Marissa Meyer earlier this year, so I thought I’d give Entwined a shot. It has one of those generic white-girl in a pretty dress YA covers, which I must confess I do think are really gorgeous. However in this instance I'm not convinced this is the best cover for this book. I don't feel it really represents the book, explains what the book is about nor even represents any of the scenes. I would even go so far as to say that this cover put me off reading this book sooner because of its generic-ness. I was terribly excited about this book only a few pages in, but this cover did not elicit the excitement I should have felt.

Once I opened the book, I was blown away. Just blown away. I did not expect this calibre, wit, and execution. The characters were simply gorgeous. The writing was incredible. And the humour! I have never laughed out loud so many damn times in a novel that wasn’t 1) a comedy or 2) written by a comedian. It’s just… the humour! The fluff! The witty comebacks and fantastic situations!

It was just amazing.

I have a firm idea how Dixon managed to write twelve sisters so masterfully. Apparently she has a lot of siblings herself. Although Azalea was our main character, I fell in love with Bramble (just as prickly and defensive as her name) and adorable little Ivy. In fact, my heart leapt whenever Ivy appeared in the pages, and I almost cried when . I actually re-read that part just for the sheer enjoyment of it. I just adored the greedy little mite. I want one!

And yes, some of the sisters are not as well developed as the others. Some of them you see so little of that they blend with one another (Hollyhock, for one. She tended to fade into the background). But all of them, from mothering, leadership-material future queen Azalea all the way down to tiny little Lily, stole my heart. I’m not a mother yet, but it made me want my own little army of dancing princesses. (Don’t tell my fiancé.)

And because this is my review and I can write whatever the damn hell I want, I’m goign to give a brief rundown of the princesses. I'll spoil tag it so those of you who haven't read this can discover the princesses on your own.

On top of the twelve dancing princesses, there were also several love interests, an entire household to contend with, and a villain who, to begin with, I was enamoured with. Each of these characters were lovingly developed and had their own quirks and speech patterns. If there were no tags, you could easily decipher who was speaking.

Azalea was a great heroine to read about. I don’t normally enjoy third person perspective as much as first person because I feel that we don’t get inside the character’s head and really feel their story the way we can with first person perspective. I am also wary that lesser writers tend to headhop without even realising it. It’s one of those little things that annoys me. I also feel, a lot of the time, that if you’re not going to change perspective in third person PV, you may as well write it from first person POV.


In this book, third person perspective worked really well. There was no headhopping or changing POV. It was firmly Azalea’s story. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Azalea was brave, caring, and loved her sisters. She would bully them to make sure they were safe. It was difficult to juggle eleven sisters, but Azalea managed it. She also managed to grow from the princess who had just lost her mother into the future leader of her tiny, impoverished nation. I didn’t even mind that she fainted a bit!

I liked the fact that the royal family wasn’t rich. The king hasn’t raised taxes in 200 years, which I think was awesome. And the king was another character that developed really well. You understand, even if the princesses don't, why he is so stern and strong. The princesses, although royal, slept under mended bedspreads and wore shabby, repaired dresses. It made sense for their famous dancing slippers to fall apart.

Speaking of which, I loved all the dancing terminology. I also feel that Dixon really managed to get inside the head of a dancer and convey how it feels to dance. Personally? I don’t dance. I don’t enjoy it and I’m no good at it. But I loved reading about it.

I also want to talk about pacing. I didn’t have a problem with it. The inciting incident doesn’t happen for a LONG time – BUT. BUT BUT BUT. There is still a LOT of interesting things that happen BEFORE that, things that are valuable to the plot and drive it forward. I did however feel that the end of the novel could have been a little bit closer to the climax. That’s a matter of personal taste. I know that to wrap up everything in a stand-alone novel as good as this takes time, so I was happy to read on. However, the anti-climax stood true to its name.

Keeper was awesome. He was totally seductive. In the beginning he was everything I wanted for Azalea. Then, as the story unravelled, I realised what Keeper was. He was manipulative in the worst kind of way – when you don’t know you’re being manipulated. I even liked his description – I like guys with ponytails! Although I never really wanted Azalea to get romantic with him, I saw the appeal.

Another character I want to mention is Lord Teddie, because he was just so damn funny. I loved reading about him and his interactions with the many girls around him, demanding his attention.

I kept imagining this as a movie and trying to cast the twelve princesses. I failed because I don’t know anyone of the appropriate ages. The writing was so cinematic that I often felt like I was reading a grown-up slightly gothic Disney princess film. And guys? I FREAKING LOVE DISNEY PRINCESS FILMS.

I also love the title of the novel. Entwined didn’t mean anything to me at first. Then I read the background story, and fell in love with it. It’s everything the novel is. It’s everything the central plot of the novel is.

I borrowed this from my library, but I will be adding a hardcover version to my personal library. I just want to hug this book to me. One of my all-time favourites.
Profile Image for Samantha.
417 reviews16.7k followers
August 4, 2015
*3.5 stars*

I read this as an audiobook, and recommend that medium if you aren't sure about reading this.

There were some areas where this book shined and others where it faltered.

First off, this is great for fans of family dynamics. This focuses a lot on sisterly bonds and father/daughter bonds especially. This would also be good for fans of novels of manners and/or lesser known Fairytale retellings.

I did find that the writing was rather simple, and the book was longer than it needed to be. I find that Heather Dixon's YA leans more towards the middle grade side of the spectrum, so it and her characters tend to be a bit more immature than I like.

Overall, an enjoyable audiobook but not something I would have picked up in physical form anytime soon.
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
858 reviews3,759 followers
July 22, 2018
I liked Azalea and her sisters, and by the end I felt for the king as well. I hated his treatment of his daughters at the start, but the story attempts to show growth. Was it enough? I'm not sure. I liked the love interest and the romance. The villain was a good villain. The climax got a little spooky.

As for a retelling, I felt this was a pretty run of the mill fairytale world. The world and magic felt pretty generic. It stuck pretty closely to the original tale in a lot of ways, fleshing out descriptions and characters, and adding a backstory and source of conflict.

I think if you like 'close' retellings and fairytale worlds, you would enjoy this!

Potential triggers: Pervy old man suitors,
Profile Image for Cara.
279 reviews704 followers
September 12, 2016
This story had a recipe for success in my book. It's a fairytale retelling, has an enchanting cover, siblings, magic, and dark secrets. I mean I think it would have been impossible for me not to love this story.

I'll try to make the rundown quick of the premise. There are quite obviously twelve princesses who unfortunately lose their mother with the birth of the last baby girl, Lily. Before their mother dies she gives Azalea, the oldest daughter, a handkerchief embroider with silver letters. What can that mean? But Azalea does know is that she promised to take care of her sisters and she will do that at all cost. The king is notably upset but he demands that anything that brings any joy is shut out from the castle. To make matters worse the king goes off to war right after their mother's death. As much as the girls mourn for their mother they all loved to dance, and one night they find a way so they can dance all the nights they want. But of course it comes at a price; they meet a mysterious man called the Keeper. Soon enough the girls find out that they are in a tangled mess they must unravel, but how?

This book may seem slow in the beginning but I can vouch that it does pick up pace and it gets pretty nail biting at the end. I loved all the girls: from the strong first born, Azalea, to their smallest member, Lily. Since Azalea is the narrator of the story we get to know her the best, and feel the weight of bitterness and anger she has towards her father. That anger affects her judgment, and gets the sisters into trouble. She knows in her gut that her father should do better to be there for them, but she learns that compassion goes both ways. There are some sweet romances that bloom for the oldest sisters, but the story centers around the sisters and their struggle to cope after their mother's death.

One of the coolest aspects of the tale, I didn’t know I would like so much, was the dancing itself. I’m not much of a dancer (well I can freestyle like a giant dork but that doesn’t count) but I could see the dances in my mind and feel how much they loved it. My feet itched to float about to the luscious music, but unfortunately my feet aren’t very cooperative. Anyways, there is a nice touch of mystery to the story and how the bits and pieces come together is pretty fantastic. The best setting is where the sisters dance. It has that eerie but gorgeous feel to it. I didn't even get into the other adorable and strong characters in this book, but I assure they are there. Ok ok so I'll say the guys are sweet and... unique. Oh you guys will just have to read it and discover them for yourselves!

I have read other retellings of this tale: Princess of the Midnight Ball,The Thirteenth Princess, and The Night Dance: A Retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" but this one is the best retelling of the twelve princesses that I have read. So I urge other fairytale junkies like me to pick it up and get entwined.
Profile Image for mary liz.
213 reviews18 followers
August 25, 2017
It took me over a week to reread this (thanks, college), but it was just like visiting an old friend.

I love this book so much.

Why I Love This Book:

- It has one of the best casts of characters. YES INDEED. The sisters are so hilarious, adorable, and real--all of them are so different from each other! You have fly-off-the-handle Bramble with her flaming temper and mischief-making ways. (She's simultaneously the best/worst. I probably couldn't stand her in real life. XD) Sweet, gentle Clover, with her endearing stutter. (I just love stuttering characters; don't ask me why.) The oldest sister Azalea--the main character--with her hilariously awkward encounters with Lord Bradford, streak of impulsiveness, and motherly instinct towards her sisters. AND LORD BRAFORD. Be still my heart! He is...quite honestly one of my favorite characters ever. o.o He's so quiet and kind and sweet AND HE'S MY FAVORITE. I would marry him. *coughs*

- The humor. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. This book is funny! Heather Dixon has such a unique sense of humor, and it's always "clicked" with me. Doesn't feel forced or unnatural at all. AND IT'S JUST THE BEST. The sisters are constantly creating chaos/awkwardness/annoyances, and that makes the story very lively.

Since I love the humor, so much, I can't pass on sharing some quotes.

"You look pretty, as always," he said.
Azalea grinned, deciding not to remind him that the last times he has seen her, she had been soaked, frozen, unconscious, and a torn mess of the undead.

Mr. Pudding was their Royal Steward. He was also the Royal Stableman, the Royal Boot-Blacker, and the Royal Things-on-the-High-Shelf-Getter.

"He's around the twist," said Azalea. "Breaking all the windows? He's mad."

"Ah, no," said the King. "It's only madness if you actually do it. If you want to break all the windows in the house and drown yourself in a bucket but don't actually do it, well, that's love."

-The setting. It's full of magic and balls and old castles and alllllll the fairytale things. It's just lovely.


- The family elements. This is arguably one of my favorite parts of this book. It's got wonderful family dynamics, and their family just feels so real. Not perfect, by any means. But exactly how I picture real families.

- The romance. Yesyesyes. All the romance(s) in this book are superb! It's very light and adorable, and I maaaaaay be a little obsessed with One Couple in Particular. *grins*

- EVERYTHING. I can't think of a thing I disliked about this book! It's one of my all-time favorites. <3

CONTENT: This is a very clean book. No cursing or excessive romance. One (no-good) character attempts to force a kiss, and there are a few brief kisses that are not forced or described much. The magic might be too creepy or weird for some people, as well. I would probably steer clear of this is if you aren't a fan of magic in general.

5 stars!
Profile Image for Angela.
318 reviews55 followers
December 21, 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.
Profile Image for Theresa.
510 reviews1,558 followers
April 20, 2019
This book has been on my shelves for around five years and I have no idea what I was thinking not picking this up sooner.
I read "Entwined" in a matter of hours and fell head over heels in love with it.

This is a retelling of one of my favourite fairytales ever called "The Twelve Dancing Princesses". It's about twelve sisters who are forbidden from dancing so every night they sneak away to pursue their passion secretly. I remembered the bare bones of the story but was a bit murky on the details and ended up loving everything this book did with the story!

Our main character is Azalea, the eldest of the sisters who acts essentially as a second mother figure since their actual mother passes away at the beginning of the book. After her death, their father essentially ignores the children and they decide to in turn ignore the rules of mourning that would forbid them from dancing. They find a hidden passage in the castle that leads them to a magical forest where every night they get to dance as much as their hearts desire. There's just one little catch: A mysterious man calling himself the Keeper also resides in that magical world and he seems intent on being true to his name...

This story absolutely took my breath away. I loved the characters and the way the author managed to imbue all twelve sisters with individual personalities that flowed so well together. My favourite were Azalea, the King (their father), Lord Teddie and essentially every single one of the sisters.... wait I guess that makes almost the entire cast, but whatever.

The main thing I adored about this book was the family dynamic. The sisters have such a tight-knit bond and Azalea is such a phenomenal older sister. The King takes some time to warm up to but the ending genuinely brought tears to me eyes because the love between them is so palpable and real. There's darker, heavier moments but also moments of light and laughter and wit that genuinely made me chuckle out loud.

In my opinion is a perfectly written fairytale that gives you everything you want from this kind of story. I hope I can entice some of you to give this painfully underrated book a chance, because I'm pretty certain you will not be disappointed.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,576 reviews270 followers
May 5, 2020
" Too young to attend the annual—and only—ball the royal family hosted, Azalea and her ten younger sisters gathered all the blankets and cloaks and shawls from the palace and hid outside the ballroom windows. Azalea remembered the frigid air, how the rosebushes scratched, and how they had to huddle together for warmth. The ballroom radiated gold through the frozen panes. The girls pressed their noses on the glass and oohed at the dancers, especially Mother, who danced like an angel."

Entwined by Heather Dixon Wallwork

Entwined, for those who have never heard of this one, is a retelling of the classic Fairy Take, "The twelve dancing princesses". And the story is as luscious as the cover art.

This was not my first quest to read a retelling of this story. I had first read "Princes of the Midnight Ball" but did not care for it. It was way to YA, light and nothing happened for much of the book.

Not so this one! It is a bit darker than the formerly mentioned one and that was exactly what I was seeking. It pays homage to the original while still making the modern version a charming, engaging story while also incorporating a wee bit of darkness. It had just the right degree of darkness while still losing none of the mystique of the original story

It was an enthralling retelling. I think what I liked best was the pace. It's the perfect length, did not bore me and was much fun to read.

I also like that the sisters all had differences to them and not one character just faded into the woodwork. I almost did not read this because I was so let d own by the other one I'd read but I am glad I gave this a try and if you like different takes on classic Fairy Tales, I'd highly recommend Entwined.

Profile Image for Angela.
621 reviews51 followers
April 26, 2011
There is something extremely magical about Entwined. From the author's writing style that easily flows from the pages to the otherworldly setting that wraps itself around you, instantly the reader is transformed into another dimension where magic is real and young girls dance the night away. For all its beauty, this story does have a creepy edge to it. The main antagonist of the story is dark and deadly giving the plot a much need jolt of suspense. And while the story is slow and steady verses quick and fast-paced, I felt it was just right. Entwined is the type of novel you curl up with a cup of tea and immerse yourself in. It's the type of book that pulls you in with its rich characters, extensive back story, and beautiful setting. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. I loved it for being a stand-alone. I adored it for its brilliant plot. And I embraced Azalea and her eleven dancing sisters.

Combining fantasy with mystery, suspense with romance, and extensive back story with a hint of comedy, Entwined is a gorgeous spin on the Grimm Brothers' timeless classic The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
Profile Image for Kelly.
616 reviews148 followers
April 14, 2011
Entwined is a retelling of the fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” in which the King’s twelve daughters slip away to a mysterious underground realm every night and dance their slippers to ribbons. Heather Dixon chooses to focus mainly on one sister as the heroine: Azalea, the eldest.

At the beginning of the book, the Queen dies giving birth to the twelfth princess. Azalea and her sisters are heartbroken, and to make things worse, their stiff-necked father the King pushes them away in his own grief. He also decrees that the entire family will be in mourning for a year, which means no dancing. Then the girls discover a magical secret passage that leads to a beautiful place where they can dance every night… for a price.

The theme of grief is threaded throughout the novel, and the villain and his realm will send a chill down your spine, but Entwined is not relentlessly grim. Dixon fills the tale with enough warmth, whimsy, and humor that I think it would make a good Disney movie. (The bad-tempered tea set and helpful candleholder are just begging to be animated!)

The greatest strength of Entwined is the characterization. I am not surprised to learn from Goodreads that Dixon comes from a large family, because She. Nails. It. The love… the occasional annoyances… siblings being mistaken for one another… and the noise! Azalea is seldom far from the sound of sisterly chatter. With so many sisters, it’s probably impossible for an author to make them all equally memorable, but Dixon tries valiantly and does succeed in making several of them jump off the page. The King is a fantastically layered character; we can see that he really does love the girls even as it’s also quite clear why they think he doesn’t. Then there are the love interests; each of the three oldest princesses has one. They’re adorable. They’re exactly the kind of love interest I’d like to see more of in young adult fiction. They’re “normal guys” — the only immortal stalker here is the villain — but they’re far from bland; each of these young men has a distinct, quirky personality and is perfect for the girl he loves.

Dixon does a great job of giving the girls an obsession with dance without making them seem frivolous. This isn’t about them wanting to party. Dancing is both a coping mechanism and a discipline for these girls. For Azalea, it’s bound up with the princessly virtues of poise and deportment, and she’s determined to teach her sisters what their mother taught her. (When she was in dance-teacher mode, I kept expecting Azalea to say “Spit-spot” in Julie Andrews’ voice.)

The climax in which the good guys face the villain may actually be the weakest part of the novel. First, Azalea makes a decision that just doesn’t make any sense to me when she knows she still needs to rescue her sisters. Then, there are a couple of dei ex machina and a “lesson” for Azalea that rubbed me the wrong way. It feels like she is asked to shoulder too much of the blame for the estrangement between father and daughters. Yes, she lashed out in pain, but the King made plenty of mistakes too.

These scenes occur close enough to the end that I finished Entwined in a critical mood, but when I awoke the next morning, the aspects I found myself still thinking about were the characterizations and the wonderful relationships between the girls and their father, between the girls and their gentlemen, and among the girls themselves. The more I thought about these, the more the book began to impress me in retrospect. Entwined is worth reading by any lover of retold fairy tales. I recommend it to fans of Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted and Robin McKinley’s Beauty, with the caveat that the villain’s creepiness makes Entwined somewhat scarier than either of the above.
Profile Image for Laura.
96 reviews107 followers
January 11, 2014
You guys might've figured this out already but I'm a complete sucker for fairytales/fairytale retellings . Entwined is exactly that. It's about 12 princesses who love to dance.

The story starts off with the main character and eldest princess Azalea about to go to her first ball because she is finally of age. A tragic event occurs though causing the whole palace to go into mourning. During mourning the princesses are not allowed to go outside, wear colorful clothing, or dance. The princesses are devastated about not being able to dance, until they find a magic passage way in their room leading to a pavilion, where they dance every night. There they meet the Keeper, a dashing, young man dressed in all black.

Keeper is beyond what I could've asked for as an antagonist and super seductive. For those of you who have already read Entwined you probably think I'm crazy. But what can say? Sadism, to a certain extent, is a turn on.

"A gentleman stood there, by the table. He was dressed in all black. Not boring black, but dashing black. One so smooth that stars would have gotten lost in it. He wore a costume of a long waistcoat and a sweeping cloak that brushed the edge of the marble. It complemented his face, a specter of high cheekbones with hints of long dimples. His midnight hair had been pulled back into a ponytail, and his eyes-even across the distance-blazed pure black. Azalea had never seen anyone so... beautiful."

"Azalea paused, wondering how it would feel to be pressed up against Keeper, his long fingers cradling her head, his lips touching hers. If he kissed as well as he danced..."

“Hush," he murmured. "There now. Hush." He traced his finger along her jaw. "That is a sweet thought," he whispered. "Except, my lady, I cannot die.”

"And," said the Keeper, his eyes cold. "You are never to refuse me another dance again."

Later on in the story the three eldest girls Azalea, Bramble, and Clover fall in love with three very different men. I found each one of their relationships heartwarming and fully entertaining. I also loved the fact that Dixon put in the time and effort to make each individual character so distinct. I could easily tell apart the 12 princesses throughout the story. The character development also made the story feel more realistic.

What amazed me the most though was how Dixon was able to progressively improve the King and his daughters relationship. The flow was so smooth, it intertwined perfectly with the timeline.

Lastly, the book is called Entwined because Dixon creates a fictional dance called the Entwine. The Entwine has the couple hold opposite ends of a sash. The man tries to capture his partner in a series of quick steps while the female tries to evade being caught in the sash. It's a romantic dance and key to the entire plot line of the story.

If I had to make one complaint it would be that some of the dialogue felt out of place with the time period. Sometimes it would be too modern. But other than that 5 stars.

Profile Image for Anne Osterlund.
Author 5 books5,517 followers
July 11, 2011
Before Mother died, Azalea promised she would take care of her sisters.

A promise that means standing up to the King. Demanding that he not forget them. And when he does—when he insists on going off war without even saying “goodbye”���it means something else.

Breaking the rules. Taking the girls down through the silver forest to the magic pavilion where they can dance. And forget they are wearing black and that their father doesn’t love them and that they don’t even have a decent portrait of Mother.

But in the attempt to save her sisters, Azalea may have destroyed them all.

I admired Azalea’s determination, especially after her mother’s death. And I liked her younger sister Bramble’s spunky personality. As well as the atrocious Lord Teddie, the detestable Fairweller, and poor mistaken Mr. Bradford, who thinks he’s going to escape politics.
Profile Image for C.B. Cook.
Author 6 books198 followers
June 2, 2016
Review soon! Er... eventually. Let's say that.
Profile Image for Kristy.
592 reviews88 followers
October 4, 2011
I don't know what my problem is with writing this review, I have been finished with the book for about 3 days and I just keep putting it off. I believe the cause to be I didn't like the book as much as I had hoped too. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, the imagery is beautiful, the writing flows; then what is the problem, why did I not enjoy it?
In part, the length. It was very time consuming, at times it felt like I could have skipped ahead 30 pages and not really missed anything important. Also, it lacked originality to a point. Yes, it's a retelling, but I didn't feel like there was anything amazingly new here. It was more an interpretation. I feel like it just lacked a certain wow factor, that bit of pizzaz to really hook you in and keep you interested. And, their names were cutish, but mostly distracting, i.e. Azalea, Clover, etc.

I sound 100% like I disliked this story, but I really didn't. It was beautiful in it's own (slow) way. It is the story of the 12 sisters who dance at night as part of a curse. They are in mourning of their passing Mother, so dancing is forbidden. They love to dance so naturally they find a magical portal to a special place, gaurded by Keeper to dance the night away and keep it a secret. Spoken Oaths are formed to make their whereabouts secret. The King (their father) knows something is going on. He calls a quest of sorts to the gentlemen of the area, to find out where these girls are wandering off to dance. It all is very dramatic and twisted when the boys come-a-calling and start falling in love. They find out who keeper really is and what his curse truely is and.... how he is going to break it. Lives are in danger as these sisters cross from real world to magic world making reality somewhere in between.

3.5 stars

Enjoyable yet lengthy.
Profile Image for Carrie .
980 reviews453 followers
November 22, 2012
Azalea, is the eldest of the twelve princess, it is up to her to look after her sisters when their mothers dies. She makes this promise to her her mother, a promise on silver, an oath. After the death of her mother, her father,the king has to go off to war and they are confined in the palace for a year, in mourning. The palace, which was once owned by an evil king, had enchanted the whole place. Some things still held there magic, even after the palace was disenchanted. A tea pot and sugar tongs, secret passage ways that need to be opened with silver. It is in one of these passages that they discover the silver forest, the dancers and The Keeper. He invites them to come whenever they like, to dance. Every night, all twelve princess go through the passage to dance in the magic. But all things come with a price.

I really liked Entwined. As I was reading I felt as if I knew this story. Then it hit me, I was reading a story I had already knew because it was re-telling of the Brother Grimms The Twelve Dancing Princess In which every night the princess head out to dance but no one knows where. So the king asks men to come from all over the land to see if they can figure out where his daughters go to at night, and the one who does gets to wed the princess of his choice. Except this version of the fairy tale is much much darker and twisted.
Profile Image for The Winter Rose.
158 reviews23 followers
June 15, 2011
Between the beautiful cover and the fact that I knew it was a retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales (The Twelve Dancing Princess), I thought I was set. But ah! I made that mistake before with "The Thirteenth Princess", didn't I? Okay, to be fair, it's not as bas as "The Thirteenth Princess" but it is by no means as good as Jessica Day George's "Princess of the Midnight Ball".

The setup is as follows: Twelve princesses are forbidden to dance because they are to spend the year in mourning for the loss of their recently deceased mother. However, dancing is their favorite thing in the world, so when they discover a secret magic passage that leads to a place where they can dance all night long, they decide to break the rules.

I have some manjor and some minor issues with the book. Let's start with the minor ones. The names of the girls were ridiculous. Granted Jessica Day George used the flower naming convention in her version as well, but I didn't mind that as much, because they didn't feel forced. The names were all pretty normal names for girls. Is it contrived, sure. But it still worked. Here... with names like "Bramble", "Goldenrod", "Evening Primrose" and "Kale" I couldn't help but be like "Really...? She really couldn't think of better flower names that begin with B, G, E or K?" I mean really...who would name their kids that? It came off as really forced. Furthermore, I don't think Dixon knows much about gardens at all considering she mentioned lilacs growing in mid-late summer and stuff such as that. Is it nitpicking? Yes, but if you are going to try to emmerse us, at least try to be accurate.

Now the major issues. This book is a good 150 pages too long. I can't believe her editor didn't get her to chop more off. The booked dragged so much and was filled with pages upon pages of superfluous content which often repeated itself. It slowed the pace of the book to a crawl. And speaking of repetition, Dixon seems to like to repeat very unneccary statements (How many god damned times did she have to tell us about Azalea digging her fingernails into her palm???) in the same way, whereas she'll leave other information out or won't mention it again until way later to the point you are going "What the hell does this R.B. stand for?". Now we come to the characters themselves. To be honest, I felt they were all very shallow and one dimensional. She gave them quirks, but that's all they have. There is no depth. Just quirks and an obsession with dancing. The whole obesseion with dancing seemed to make them appear very vapid, uninteresting and void of any other personality traits. And then the whole time, one big thing that either wasn't explained or I missed entirely... why exactly was the Royal Family impoverished? And why was that never mentioned. All we hear is the girls whining about how poor they are (despite living in a palace and being princesses). This made no sense. What was going on politically to make the royal family poor? The politics of the world are vaguely mentioned but not really explained to the readers. In addition to this, her descriptions (specifically in "action" scenes) were jumbled and confusing. She doesn't have a strong command of eloquently describing whatever scene she is trying to set up. I feel like she has a good idea of it, but she's not letting us in.

The good stuff? Well.. it was cute, I suppose. I loved the title and the whole idea of the dance "The Entwine". That is a great device. Loved it. Unfortunately, that alone can't pull everything together and make me overlook all the blatant flaws.

I would reccomend Jessica Day George's "Princess of the Midnight Ball" is you want a more captivating (and better written) retelling of the fairy tale.
96 reviews505 followers
April 18, 2013
I had high hopes for ENTWINED, especially since retellings are totally my thing, and I adore most fairy tales: especially The Twelve Dancing Princesses... well, not the original version, where the eldest sister marries this old solider and it's all very creepy.

Fortunately, Azalea, our main character and the eldest sister, doesn't end up marrying an elderly man. Unfortunately, the book just wasn't for me.

I did like the plot; a pretty original twist on the classic. However, it didn't keep my interest the whole way and I quickly began to get bored with it. I thought it was much more middle grade than young adult, because I could see how it was fluffy and cute, even though I didn't feel that way.

The sisters each had their own personality and traits (it was hard to confuse them), but they are behaved immaturely and far younger than their actual age. They giggled and squealed so much that I was sure I'd loose my mind. Azalea, especially, I found dull and quite unlikable, and I couldn't see what everyone else saw in her. Mr. Bradford was boring and stiff. It's very possible to craft a sweet, kind, "nice-guy" without making him snore-worthy. The King I did like when he wasn't sucking in his damn cheeks half the time; his character growth was fantastic and I really enjoyed reading about him. Our villain, the Keeper (not really a spoiler, honestly) was frightening and fascinating... at first.

The writing was lovely, for a fairy tale. It never would've worked if it wasn't, being a very distant and detached style with a lot of uncommonly used words pussyfooted .

ENTWINED may be truly amazing for some, but I didn't think so.

also, I'm aware that was one of the worst reviews I've ever written. GO AWAY.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
July 11, 2015
Somehow three different novelizations of The Twelve Dancing Princesses have come my way in the last three or four months: this book, Princess of the Midnight Ball and Wildwood Dancing. (None of them is perfect, but I liked Wildwood Dancing the best.) I'm going to repeat here a lot of what I said in my review about Midnight Ball: This book will appeal mostly to girls in the 10-16 age range, I think. It was a pleasant read but nothing special. It's longer and more complex than Midnight Ball, but is rather simplistically and yet somewhat confusingly told. As much as I'm predisposed to like fairy tale novelizations, it just didn't really grab me.
Profile Image for Katrina Michelle.
222 reviews
November 4, 2018
You know that moment when you finish a book, a huge smile on your face, and think, "This is the most perfect story ever"?

This delicious tale - full of strong sisterly bonds and magic tea sets and very creepy villains and silver handkerchiefs and dancing - made me feel the warm flickery bit inside. <3
Profile Image for ☆☽Erica☾☆.
200 reviews673 followers
Shelved as 'eh-maybe-later'
August 21, 2016
Omg I loved this tale when I was younger! I've never seen a retelling of it. ahhhhhh i want thissss

Profile Image for snowplum.
161 reviews27 followers
August 11, 2016
This book is… weird. Not good weird, mostly. I didn’t realize until halfway through that it was written by the author of Illusionarium – a fact which hit me upside the head the first time a rather horrific element was introduced, and I was like “Gah! That’s sort of disgusting/gross/horrific like Illusionarium when it gets disgusting/gross…” and lo and behold, there is a reason for that: the disturbed mind of Heather Dixon. So that is admittedly a matter of taste, but emphatically not a trait that I personally enjoy.

Trying to be more objective about the book… it’s still weird in a bit of a bad way. First off, I find the setting bizarre and awkward. Dixon is trying to transpose a traditional fairy tale (with magic and a king with twelve daughters in a castle) into a world that’s got a parliament and railways and all sorts of slang that sometimes seems Regency or Victorian and other times seems Jazz Age… and people ride horses off to war where they fight with bayonets (no dirigibles)… and girls wear corsets and learn 30 types of curtsies and are fully likely to get married at 16 or 17. So while I’m on board with the theory that any writer can combine whatever disparate elements of histories and timelines she wants to create the fictional world in her fictional novel, I can’t help looking for some rules or structure or reason or sense to it. There is none here. It’s just a weird mix of stuff that never makes sense together, for me.

The characters are also a bit flat for my taste. I don’t expect each of twelve princesses to be rendered in great detail, on top of a king and a villain and several suitors and assorted members of the court. But more than half of these princesses only have one attribute and not a single memorable line of dialogue. And they all love dancing more than anything else? Really? (With the possible exception of the poor fat one, who seems to love food more than anything else… but she also loves dancing.) As soon as you tell me twelve sisters all love dancing more than anything, you’ve told me this is a fairy tale, not a “real world.” So then turning around and trying to make it a real world is ridiculous. Meanwhile, you get about enough information about the male romantic lead to decide that you’d want to go on a second date with him (which, admittedly, you would), but that’s a far cry from the level of detail I expect about a main character or partner for a main character.

And as far as the main girl (Azalea) goes… meh? I think she comes across well in the latter third of the book – once she knows who the villain is, knows what the stakes are, and chooses to fight, she is brave and resourceful and pretty impressive. But she spends the first two thirds of the book being rather boring. She is sad because her mom died (understandable); sad/mad at her father because he’s been cold, neglectful, and uncommunicative all of her life, but especially since his wife died (sure); she tries to be cheerful and nice but also responsible and in charge of her 11 younger sisters for all the obvious reasons (obviously); and she loves to dance (a lot). Also, she is inordinately obsessed with Mr. Bradford’s pocket watch. While I understanding feeling really guilty if you lose something that someone lends you, I also think someone who likes you enough to lend you something probably likes you enough to suggest that you not seriously jeopardize your life and/or eternal soul to retrieve it if you lose it. Azalea kind of (understatement) lacks perspective in a lot of cases, the thing with the watch being perhaps the most extreme example.

Evaluating the book specifically as a twist on the fairy tale of the twelve dancing princesses, I think it’s underwhelming, and I think Dixon’s story would actually have benefited from being unfettered from the structure of a tale against which it mostly seemed to chafe all along. There’s no reason this couldn’t have worked as a story that wasn’t “based on” or flipped from anything, at all. Azalea could have been an only child with a cousin or a friend, or one of 2 or 4 sisters who could have been any ages. The enchanted realm didn’t actually need to be all dancing-centric. Beyond which, I think an essential element of the original story is that all of the girls are attached to something in the enchanted realm – whether it is just that they all have a prince with whom to dance in some of the classic renderings, or they have a variety of enticements that suit their ages and personalities in some of the more modern versions. Here, all that happens in the enchanted realm is that they dance…. with each other. At least, that’s all you ever hear about. The first time the girls go there, there are apparently a bunch of guests at a massive party, but you never heard about the girls meeting any of them or forming any attachments. Dixon would have been better off ditching any sense of obligation to the original fairy tale and letting the entire realm be an illusion crafted by the villain, perhaps; or, if the enchanted realm is “real,” then I think it’s basically necessary to account for at least one girl wanting to stay there permanently – and probably having the lead character be at least tempted or torn, as it seems obvious most people would be, what with the enchanted realm being a paradise beyond the most beautiful dream.

Overall, I can’t say I recommend this book to anyone in particular. Even if you adored Illusionarium, I don’t think that’s an indication that you will love Entwined, because Entwined is nowhere near as bold and inventive. The best thing about Entwined is the slow thawing of the princess’ relationship with the father (or, his gradual warming which allows the thawing with them to happen), which has no real parallel in Illusionarium, where most of the relationships were either antagonistic or silly. (Lockwood falling in love was adorable, but not really profound.) Second to that, the climactic fight sequence in Entwined is certainly exciting – it goes on for quite a number of pages with several phases; but it’s nowhere near as major as the frequent and lengthy action sequences and chases in Illusionarium. If you pick up Entwined wanting Illusionarium II, you will be massively disappointed. But even if you just pick it up wanting a good fairy tale, you’ll probably be somewhat disappointed. I’d say try Uprooted by Naomi Novik or The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury instead.
Profile Image for Sara.
311 reviews12 followers
February 6, 2011
Entwined by Heather Dixon is a retelling of the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. The story is told from the point of view of the oldest princess Azalea. When Azalea's mother dies and her father the king leaves and goes off to war Azalea and her sisters are in morning and while in morning they are not allowed to dance. The girls find a secret passageway and make their way to a dance floor where they can dance unseen. The girls go every night to dance and eventually find out that everything isn't as simple as it seems.

I loved this book. I was a little unsure at first because it was HUGE (the finished product will be almost 500 pages), however the author did a fantastic job of pacing the story and providing interesting details to make for a magical book. I was engaged and interested throughout the book and to the very end. The girls are all named for flowers and their names are in alphabetical which makes it easy for a forgetful reader to know which sister is which and the author did a fantastic job making each character different in a book with such a huge cast of characters. I was thrilled with the perspective of the oldest sister instead of the man who solves the mystery (as is usually told) and the trips to the woods were very well explained and logical.

Appropriateness: Aside from a little scariness there was nothing in this book that readers would find objectionable. The book is very long and very detailed and the heroine is in her late teens and thinking about marriage so I would put the interest age at 14+ with a note that younger readers who are interested in the story and not intimidated by the length would also enjoy the book.

Readers who are interested in the tale The Twelve Dancing Princess will also enjoy Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George. There is also a rendition of the story in Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: The Complete Collection (although the soldier is really creepy and the sisters are somehow all the same age) that is available instantly though netfilx.

Review copy obtained from Amazon Vine

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