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4.3 out of 5 stars14
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Robin McKinley, Gail Carson Levine, Juliet Marillier, Patricia Wrede, Shannon Hale -- a lot of excellent fantasy writers have written adaptations of fairy tales.

And if you had to ask me, Heather Dixon might be added to the list sometime soon. Her debut novel "Entwined" is a silken tangle of family drama, magical happenings, romance and mild tragicomedy -- she gives a voice and personality to each one of the twelve dancing princesses, as well as a lusciously beautiful little kingdom filled with silvery beauty.

Azalea and her sisters are devastated when their warm-hearted mother dies during the Yuletide Ball. The grief-stricken King avoids his daughters and goes off to war, but not before he makes it clear that for the year of mourning, there will be NO DANCING. This devastates the girls, since their mother taught them every dance they know, and they see it as honoring her memory.

And one night, they find a magical passage under the castle, leading to a dancing pavilion in a silver forest. The mysterious Keeper allows them to come and dance every night, but Azalea soon discovers that he wants something from them -- something that could set the sinister man free. And as the King advertises for a man who can find the princesses' dancing place, Azalea discovers the horrifying truth of the Keeper's true identity...

Twelve sprightly princesses, an ancient castle riddled with magic, and a midnight dance in a silver forest. "Entwined" more or less follows the basic plot outline of the traditional fairy tale, but Heather Dixon fleshes it out with some new twists -- such as the undead Keeper, the rigid King's feud with his neglected daughters, and the reasons that the princesses are so desperate to dance.

Dixon's writing is sublime, managing to be magically ethereal and robust at the same time. Her dialogue has a slight British archness (even from characters with Germanic names), and her descriptions are shimmering, exquisite little things of satin, jewels and silver.

And despite all the grief and mourning, Dixon inserts some mild comedy into her story -- the suitors who pursue the princesses are handled in a hilarious way, especially one guy who's sent two kingdoms away on a wild goose chase. But she also excels at the creepier moments, which become more pronounced as we find out more creepy things about the Keeper ("He looked like a black, serpentine cobweb on the lattice").

And while she has a pretty large cast to flesh out, Dixon gives each of the princesses a distinct personality -- particular Azalea is an earnest, kindly young girl who just wants to protect her little sisters. The Keeper is a charming elegant gentleman who becomes more monstrous with every appearance, while Mr. Bradford is a quiet, sweet young gentleman who is obviously perfect for Azalea.

"Entwined" entwines its readers in a lush, haunting fantasy riddled with terrifying moments and robust comedy -- and you never quite know what Heather Dixon will pull out next. A delightful read.
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On Christmas Day, Azalea's mother passes away and the whole country begins a year of mourning. During that time, Azalea and her eleven sisters have to wear black, stay inside the castle, aren't allowed to dance, and their father has grown distant and ignores them.

Desperate for some grasp at their former life, the girls begin dancing in secret. When they get caught by their father, however, they search for another location. When they discover a magic passage to a place ran by the Keeper, they are thrilled to be invited back every night to dance if they so desire.

When the Keeper starts becoming cruel and violent and demanding that Azalea find the magic object to free him, things become desperate for the princesses. To make matters worse, the king finds out about their evening dancing and puts out an advertisement asking single, eligible males who think they can solve the riddle of the princesses' evening excursions to come and give it a shot.

Will the princesses find a way to stop the Keeper? Will they be able to mend their broken family?

A retelling of the fairy tale, THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES, this touching, entertaining version will delight fans of Jessica Day George, Mette Ivie Harrison, Gail Carson Levine, Cameron Dokey, and other fairy tale re-tellers for older readers. The characters are well-developed, and the plot does a great job of holding the reader's interest.

Those who like fantasy, adventure, romance, and comedy will all enjoy reading ENTWINED.

Reviewed by: Kira M
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on 19 July 2011
Entwined was a beautiful book and i enjoyed every page of it. I would describe it as a dark fairytale containing several sinister plot elements making it suitable for more mature readers especially teens.
I loved it becuase the plot wasn't too predictable and there was always something interesting going on. Azalea, the main protagonist wasn't pathetic but neither was she the stalwart heroine figure which we are so used to today and frankly the theme is becoming a bit cliche so i found her, as a main character a nice break. The romance in the plot was lighthearted yet beautiful which made me like it all the more and also contained several humerous twists making it different from the steroetypical boy meets girl which is becoming all to common.
The tale is magical, enthralling and refreshing so therefore i give Entwined 10/10.
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on 6 October 2014
This book I discovered through my love of names and their meanings. I am an unashamed name-lover and adore unusual and interesting names, even if I would never use them. The names of the princesses in this book peaked my interest so I bought a copy and sat down to read the first page… and didn’t stop until three hours later by which point I was 150 pages in!

Based on the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Heather Dixon tells the story of Azalea and her eleven sisters. After their mother dies shortly after the birth of twelfth daughter Lily, the palace goes into mourning. The princesses love nothing better than to dance, but dancing is forbidden during mourning! Upon discovering a secret pavilion through a tunnel in the fireplace, the girls go there every night to dance at the Keeper’s pleasure. However, Keeper is a mysterious man and it is not too long until his sinister side shows itself.

Full of everything a good fairy-tale should have (magic, royalty, magic and romance) Entwined certainly exceeded my expectations of it. Although the premise is familiar there are bits that will surprise the reader and the plot is actually quite dark at times. You become absorbed by the many aspects of the girls’ story and their lives.

I loved this book and all it had to offer. However, I can see how this wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It is certainly quite a feminine book and I would think it would be more appealing to those with an interest in fantasy, fairy-tales and romance. That said, I would think it’s worth reading and very rewarding once you reach the end.
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on 9 February 2012
This was a really sweet book, one I'll definitely try and re-read in the future. It had this charm to it I can't really put my finger on. I felt the start was a little slow, but about a third of the way in, I was really engrossed and found myself either smiling at the sweetness or absorbed in the darker moments of the story. I have never read the original story. My only knowledge comes from the Barbie movie (which I should not have in my dvd collection as a 20 year old, please don't judge me) but who knows how accurate that is? Regardless of how faithful or original this retelling is, to me it was like reading a fresh story and I really enjoyed it. I loved the 'fairy tale' of it all, with the magic and the dashing men and the beautiful locations.

Characters wise, there were quite a lot. In the beginning, I admit I got a little confused with all the sisters and how old they were meant to be. They were all lovely though. I've read mixed reactions on Azalea, the lead character, but I liked her for the most part. I think her heart was in the right place and she was very sweet. Special mentions go to Bramble for her great sense of humour and Eve for being a bespectacled book worm like myself :3 Then there's the King who was one of my favourite aspects of the story. I loved watching him go from a cold, distant figure that the sisters (and I) hated to a warm, gentle father trying his best. Just thinking about it now makes me feel all toasty inside. Then there are the love interests! I don't want to spoil who they are (even though they're all pretty obvious as soon as they meet). They were all so so lovely and adorable and I only wished there'd been more scenes with them because they made my heart do little leaps.

One of the downsides to this book I feel is the writing. It was a little too simplistic? I'm not actually a big fan of superfluous description or overly dressed up narration in books, but I think with magical stories like this, it would have fit well. Instead, the writing was very stiff and basic. It was also quite repetitive. Every time I saw 'skirts' or 'crinolines' I sad faced. The combination of this and not enough romance to satisfy my cravings means I give this book a 4/5
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I love fairy tales whether they are traditional, new or re-imaginings. ENTWINED has sat upon my bookcase for two years, waiting for me to get around to reading it. I was sure that I was going to love it; the synopsis spun it as a re-telling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. As a book aimed at young adults, I was expecting (and hoping) that it would have some depth and darkness to it, to make it a little more edgy. So, eagerly, I recently started to read it. Unfortunately, I was hugely disappointed with it.
As mentioned, I like my fairy tales to have a little more edge to them, and this was the main problem with ENTWINED. I just found it too fluffy. The princesses were too sweet, their world (even in grief) seemed almost too sugar-coated, the action seemed too predictable. Personally, I did not feel connected to the princesses, which meant that I ended up having little interest in what happened to them.
It is a shame. Dixon has not written a poor book, just one that does not appeal to me.
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on 24 December 2014
It’s a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, which I’m not actually that familiar with. (I may need to change that!) I guess it was a different reading experience for me going into it not knowing that much about it!

Entwined is a story of Azalea and her sisters who are suffering after their mother’s death. As the sisters are mourning their mother, they are forbidden to dance by their father. As with every fairy-tale, nothing is quite that simple. The reader is introduced to a character called the Keeper, who provides Azalea and her sisters chance to escape their everyday family life.

Entwined is a magical, fun read, although sometimes I wish it had a bit of a quicker pace! I still think it’s worth devouring if you like a well written fairy-tale read!
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on 18 June 2013
The cover is exceptionally beautiful and is what drew me to the book in the first place and it does match and represent what the story is about. Entwined is a sweet, innocent story about a dozen princesses, a magical palace, suitors and a little bit of evil. I'd say it is most suited for young girls aged 10-14 rather than older teenagers. It's a sweet book that reminded me a lot of the 'Anastasia' film - it has a similar feel to it so if you (or your daughter) enjoys this movie then it's certainly one you'd like to read.

I most liked the characters of the princesses - especially plucky Bramble, romantic shy Clover and the little ones. It's a sweet, innocent coming-of-age story filled with romance, adventure and wholesome family values.
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on 12 August 2012
I love fairy-tales, old, new or retold. Entwined is the retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and follows the story of Azalea and her sisters in the aftermath of their mother's death. As they are `in mourning' they are forbidden to dance by their father, the King. Enter the Keeper who provides them with an escape to bleakness of their home - but nothing is ever that simple.

Written in the third person this book made a pleasant change from all the first narratives I've been reading. Entwined is relaxing and endearing without ever being boring and I enjoyed every single page. Apart from Azalea my favourite characters were Mr Bradford and Bramble.
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on 15 May 2013
One of my favorite fairytales as a child was that of the dancing princesses, Heather Dixon does not only do justice to the magic of that story, she brings it to a whole different level.
The pictures this paints in your mind as you read it are stunning, the characters ( especially that of the sisters and their relationship to each other ) are simply wonderful!
I read it and loved it and had to get a copy for my mother as well.
Will most certainly read it again and again!
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