Entwined by Heather Dixon

Title: Entwined
Author: Heather Dixon
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: March 29, 2011
Pages: 480
Source: ARC from Different Area Codes Book Tours
Interest: 2011 Debut, Fairy Tale Retelling, Beautiful Cover
Rating: 3.5/5

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.
The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And 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.

As I was reading Entwined, one thought kept running through my head: I wonder if Heather Dixon is a Disney fan? The entire book had that dream-like, floating on a cloud of fairy dust feeling that is the hallmark of a classic Disney film.

The first hundred pages or so were a little slow for me...nothing much seemed to happen, and I couldn't keep all 12 girls straight. It did help that Dixon chose names in alphabetical order, with the oldest girl being named Azalea, and the youngest, Lily. If all else failed, I could go through the alphabet and have a rough idea of the age of the girl in question. Some of the names of the girls were rather unusual...Bramble, Goldenrod, Evening Primrose...while not something I think a child in real life should have to handle, the uniqueness of each name worked in this story, and I like that Dixon deviated from the obvious plant/flower name choices like Daisy, Violet, or Jasmine.

The girls have a very formal relationship with their father in the beginning. He is the King first, and a father second, but over the course of the story, the king learns to understand his daughters better, and they in turn learn to forgive his gruffness. It was always obvious that he loved them, but neither he nor the girls knew how to communicate. It was quite refreshing to see a father-daughter relationship in a YA book; father characters are usually so one-dimensional that it is hard to connect with them, but I grew to love the king as the girls did.

I confess I didn't understand Keeper; perhaps I wasn't paying attention to critical parts, but I always felt a little confused by his character - I wasn't really clear on exactly how he got into his situation, and what his motivation for getting out of it was. He did creep me out though!

I'm not really sure if the enchanted sugar teeth count as a character, but Dixon managed to give the object such a feisty little personality that I couldn't help but be enamored by it:)

There is no possibility of writing this review without mentioning one of the key elements - the dancing. At times it was a bit much - I understood that the sisters love to dance, and it helps them through difficult times, but reading about the dancing often left me feeling like an outsider at a party where everyone else knows the right steps. I'm sure it is very difficult to describe a dance sequence, and it probably would have been tedious to read anyway, but I did want to be able to better visualize each dance.

The best part of Entwined was the innocent romances of the older girls. They were sweet without being sappy, and 100% G-rated while still being believable; Walt Disney would have been proud.

Overall, a lovely rendering of a lesser known fairy tale; it will easily appeal to middle grade readers as well as the young adult crowd.

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