Modern Fantasy · Review · Young Adult

Entwined by Heather Dixon | Ebook Review

Entwined by Heather DixonPublisher: Greenwillow Books

Pub. Date: 2011

Genre: Fantasy YA, Retelling

Pages: 475

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

I’ve wanted to read a retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” for a couple years now, and I was excited to see that Heather Dixon wrote one titled Entwined. While I am happy to have finally read a retelling of a favorite fairy tale, I found this rendition to be only okay.

It is never outright explained by the characters, but the King and Queen named the girls after flowers, which reminds me of Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses‘s flower tiles that unlock the secret passage, and alphabetically according to birth order. Our protagonist is Azalea, the crown princess, and she is responsible for filling some of her mother’s duties and for watching over her eleven younger sisters. Because there are so many characters to keep track of, Dixon made a great choice in keeping this story to Azalea’s perspective, especially because she is the one at the head of the conflict. But this decision made every other sister’s character suffer and not truly grow.

The conflict starts over a mourning period for the entire royal household, which means that no one is allowed to dance. So, the princesses find a place to dance without getting caught. This is the one freedom from their entrapment in the castle, leaving them in a similar mindset to the Keeper of the silver forest they dance in. He is an interesting dark villain in this novel, and he brings a level of creepiness that I wanted to see in the Peter Pan retelling I read in July.

I like that a love of dancing is maintained by all of the princesses in this book. For all of the dancing and curtsying, the descriptions never leave me with a clear picture of what is happening. As someone who loved reading books about dancing and ballerinas, I need at least a basic framework to off of in books that try to describe dancing. I don’t need technical detail, but I need more to go on than ever changing descriptions of a tiny movement involved in blah-blah dance, if they’re going to appear several times in the book.

Once the contest starts to discover the secret of where they go to dance at night, love interests come into the picture for the oldest girls. I like that this romance didn’t become a love triangle or encourage entering into abusive relationships, but the romances feel not believable and weak.

Where the romance is unreal, I appreciate that Entwined focuses on family. There are bonds of sisterhood, though none of them ever even disagree with each other. They do try to teach and include each other, and this happens the most in their secret outdoor ballroom. I liked watching Azalea teach, even though it wasn’t described in any way that was easy to picture in my mind. I also like seeing them all learn to see their father in a different light and remember his own humanity.

On a less important note, the princesses’ dialogue didn’t fit the setting or their ages. Some of the language felt too modern for a fantasy setting in a place that might be akin to Victorian England. A couple of the younger princesses also spoke with a combination of lisp and baby voice that was annoying to read in its phonetic form.

Entwined is an okay retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” with the primary antagonist for the princesses being a different person. It fell short in characters, romance, and predictability. I think it is probably best appreciated by a more middle grade audience or by someone who wants to read retellings of less popular fairy tales.


6 thoughts on “Entwined by Heather Dixon | Ebook Review

  1. Disappointed to hear this was only okay. I’ve had this on my mental TBR for over a year now, and I’m not ashamed to say that it was primarily because of the gorgeous cover. I’ll still be picking it up because the story really intrigues me. It’s a retelling that I’ve not seen before – but I’ll be going into it with lower expectations now which might be a good thing!
    Great review 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love this fairy tale, so I was looking forward to this read. When I did read it, I also found it a tad on the disappointing-side. Then again, I think this is a hard fairy tale because there are so many princesses.

    Liked by 2 people

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