by Heather Dixon
Plot Summary: Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father’s grief. What they don’t understand—although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in—is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose. Luckily, Azalea is brave and steadfast. Luckily, a handsome young army captain also has his eye on Azalea. . . . Lush, romantic, and compelling, this debut novel by Heather Dixon will thrill fans of Shannon Hale, Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou.
Expectations: Love a fairytale retelling! And one about the Twelve Dancing Princesses was something I had not seen before. And regarding the plot summary, I'm not a big fan of Robin McKinley, but I love Shannon Hale's work. Edith Pattou, I'm not familiar with, so I must look into some of her work.
The first thing that struck me was how elegant and lush the writing in this book is. It is very evocative of a fairy tale, and perfectly suited to the world the author created in this novel. I did listen to the audiobook of Entwined, and I was really impressed by the reader, Mandy Williams, who did an amazing job voicing 11 young girls, and making them all stand out. The development of the royal family - with all those princesses - was beautifully done, and I'm sure the audiobook reader wouldn't have been able to give fantastic character voices to the girls, if she didn't have equally fantastic characters to work with. The idea crossed my mind a few times while listening to this book, that the original story would do better to be retold in novella form, or a short-ish story, as I felt like the story was being dragged out a little.
With the expansion of the story, the author creates a wonderfully dark and macabre world of the Pavilion, where the girls dance, and where the sinister Mr. Keeper presides, giving the novel an edge that balanced the flippancy of the young girls, and the lovely three romances that are developed in the story. The evolving relationship between the princesses and their father was also touching and realistically portrayed I think, even if there was a touch of The Sound of Music sometimes (replace all singing with dancing). Even with the some parts of the novel dragging and a deus ex machina ending (oh, the power of love!) overall this was a very enjoyable read.