Entwined

[openbook booknumber=”9780062001030″][rating: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.

I was surprised and delighted by how much enjoyment I got out of this book. I love fairy tale stories and re-tellings of all stripes but to find one like this was magical indeed and it was such a joy to read. Entwined is a re-telling of the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses set in a Victorian era kingdom. There is a castle and balls, there are beautiful dresses and magic, and of course there is lots and lots of dancing. Underneath it all there lurks a danger that threatens to destroy everything.


He was shockingly easy to follow. The pressure of his hand, the step of his foot, the angle of his frame. . . it was like reading his mind. When he leaned right, they turned in perfect unison. He swept her across the gallery in a quick three, a dizzying pace. Gilded frames and glass cases and the window blurred in her vision, and Azalea spun out, her skirts pulling and poofing around her, before he caught her and brought her back into dance position. She could almost hear music playing, swelling inside of her.
       Mother had once told her about this perfect twining into one. She called it interweave, and said it was hard to do, for it took the perfect matching of the partners’ strengths to overshadow each other’s weaknesses, meshing into one glorious dance. Azalea felt the giddiness of being locked in not a pairing, but a dance. So starkly different than dancing with Keeper. Never that horrid feeling that she owed him something; no holding her breath, wishing for the dance to end. Now, spinning from Mr. Bradford’s hand, her eyes closed, spinning back and feeling him catch her, she felt the thrill of the dance, of being matched, flow through her.
       “Heavens, you’re good!” said Azalea, breathless.
       “You’re stupendous,” said Mr. Bradford, just as breathless. “It’s like dancing with a top!”

The eldest princess Azaela has eleven younger sisters each named after a flower alphabetically, Bramble, Clover and so on. This ends up being a wonderful way to have several very different sisters and also an easy way for the reader to keep track of just which sister is being spoken of by the letter her name starts with. The author juggles a cast of twelve princesses beautifully and you never get bored with them. Their mother the Queen was a beautiful dancer and taught each of them how to do all sorts of different dances so that the princesses equate the love of their mother with the joy of dance. When the queen dies in childbirth with the youngest princess, Lily, things take a dark turn in the castle. The King is devastated and puts the castle into mourning, closing up the windows, dressing the family in black, and absolutely forbidding dancing. The princesses grieve the death of their mother, and the sudden emotional distance of their father, and want to celebrate and remember her through dance, but how can they when they have been forbidden?

What follows is a wonderful story featuring a magic castle, twelve princesses, unwanted suitors, a mystery to be solved, and a sinister evil that threatens everything the princesses love. Azaela was such a strong heroine, she took such fantastic charge in the wake of her mother’s death in caring for her younger sisters as best she could. Her sisters were a joy to read about as well from stubborn cranky Bramble, to shy sweet Clover, to even little Lily taking her first steps in the dance. The suitors who attempt to solve the mystery were also a joy to read about because, let’s face it, there was some real comedy gold to be had right there. A single princess they could deal with, but twelve?

This was a wonderful book and I recommend it to any one that takes joy in reading fairy tales, especially rewritten ones. The magic the story wove around me made the pages fly past and for a long book (nearly 500 pages!) it almost seemed too short by the time I was done. This story of several strong young women who manage to keep their family together through increasing odds was a great joy to read. I highly recommend it.

I received this book for free to review.

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