By Heather Dixon
Greenwillow Books March 2011
Book Blogger Secret Santa gift from Briana of The Book Pixie
Azalea is the oldest of twelve princesses. Their mother has recently died. Their father insists on strict mourning which means that the girls cannot take solace even in dancing, their last connection to their mother. When the girls discover that there are still remnants of old magic in the castle, they are able to escape into another world. There, they can dance the nights away under the guardianship of the benevolent Keeper. But the princesses don’t know everything about the Keeper, magic, and the connections between the evil High King of lore and their family. Their lack of knowledge could bring about the end of their family and the kingdom.
When you read a YA novel, do you ever feel like the hero or heroine is a bit thick? You feel as if anyone with half a brain could figure out the big reveal, closely guarded secret, or identity of the mysterious stranger except for this character (I'm looking at you, Katniss). I definitely had that feeling here. Azalea is a smart girl, but seems to miss the very obvious clues that the Keeper is not who he appears to be. This makes her shock and outrage at the discovery humorous for the reader. That being said, the tension and feeling of danger is very well done and the last half of the book moves at a breakneck pace.
The best part of this book for me was watching Azalea grow as a big sister and a daughter. She is used to her mother smoothing out all of the difficulties in life and caring for the girls and their father, the King. As the novel progresses, Azalea comes to understand that her father’s coldness is not indicative of a lack of caring, but rather his lack of knowledge about how to nurture all of these young women suddenly under his care. She learns how to interact with her dad adult to adult instead of as an impetuous teen challenging his authority.
Author Heather Dixon manages to create an atmosphere of magic throughout. Her rich descriptions highlight the contrast between the cold, lonely castle and the color and beauty of the Keeper’s magical world. It is, of course, difficult to give great characterization to twelve sisters within a given novel. Dixon wisely chooses to focus on a few who are very distinctive. The rest are there, but not particularly integral to the plot.
This is a book you can feel good about giving to your teenage daughter or sister. There is romance, but it’s not too heavy. It's mostly about family and the ways that people try to protect the ones they love. I liked this book now as an adult, but I think at 13 or 14 I would have loved it.
This was a good read and it ultimately pointed me back to its inspiration. It reignited my love for fairytales and inspired me to pull out my old Andersen and Brothers Grimm anthologies. In my book, that makes Entwined a success.