Saturday, February 13, 2016

Book Review: Entwined by Heather Dixon

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Title: Entwined

Author: Heather Dixon

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fairy-Tale Retelling

Audience: Young Adult


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

**5 stars**

Beware, this is a fangirly review, so there might be some slight spoilers about.

Entwined was a fairytale from beginning to end. Enchanting, humorous, charming, and sweet. Beauty swirled through every page. And though there were pockets of intense darkness, this book, overall, was a swoon-worthy tale with heartfelt lessons and giggles and loveliness. I was grinning like a fool as I read the final pages - torn between the desire to laugh or sob. This book, my friends, THIS BOOK! My second time reading it, and I simply adored it.

Azalea is the eldest princess; older sister to eleven unique and endearing sisters who a lot of the time sometimes get out of hand. Unexpectedly, they are thrust into a mourning period, and forbidden to dance. But they need to dance! -And are willing to embrace strange situations in order to do what they love.

The characters. The storyline. The relationships. The dancing. The mannerism. Everything! Entwined is brilliant, in the sweetest of ways! It's actually a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, (which happens to be one of my favorite fairytales.) And such a retelling! The best one I've ever read for this particular tale, indeed! I think it was set in a Victorian-like era, which was delightful. The men wore top hats - that's one fact that stood out to me, hehe. It was fun! And there were all these other lovely details that pointed to the Victorian era as well, I believe. Absolutely scrumptious, historically-wise (except for some modern-day phrases that popped up once or twice).

And, as it's based off The Twelve Dancing Princesses, there's lots of dancing! So many different dances touched on! I loved it! I absolutely loved it! I like dancing around, and watching all manners of dancing, from folk dance to ballet. So it was very fun to learn about different dances and watch as the sisters learned new steps and all that wondrous stuff. One of my favorite aspects of Entwined! Perfectly beautiful! ^_^

The sisters. Azalea, the oldest, is our main character. The two right under her, Bramble and Clover, had bits of their stories told as well, though the story was never told from their POV. As for the rest, some are mentioned more than others, but they're all usually there, clustered behind Azalea, eyes bright and smiles mischievous sweet. *grins* Lily, the baby, is often gnawing on someone's pant leg ... hehe. I love her. I love that there's so many sisters, and that they're all named after flowers (alphabetically), and their feminine ways and distinct womanliness, and that Azalea's kind of like their mother hen (except when they don't want to listen to her), and they tease and look out for each other in such a sisterly way, and they make up big schemes together (sometimes much to Azalea's chagrin) ...
     I'm simply delighted with the non-stereotypical characters of Entwined. Azalea is not the typical hard, tough, kick-butt heroine. She's motherly. She's sweet. She's proper and ladylike. She hurts when her father is indifferent toward the sisters. She's protective. She's emotional. She appreciates getting rescued when in need (though she's mortified at how much of a disaster she looks each time). In short, she's kind of like me, and I love her! *hugs Azalea* I understand her. I connect with her. She's feminine. She's a lady! *sigh* How refreshing to have a woman character that insists on acting like a woman!
     Mr. Bradford, the King, Lord Teddie, Minister Fairweller. I LOVED THEM. They are definitely not the strikingly strong, devastatingly handsome heroes with silver tongues that make the women swoon. In fact, they're rather the opposite. Clumsy, rumpled, and a bit awkward. Sometimes they don't know how to show a girl that they truly care about her. But they end up being completely lovable, unique, and real. Mr. Bradford is my favorite. He is so sweet. Thoughtful. Compassionate. He leads, in a quiet way. His crooked cravat and rumpled hair are even endearing. *grins* What a fine young man. He's perfect in an imperfect way, and I love that. Every time he appears, my heart is happy! ^_^ And he totally is a hero! You'll see why! *wink* Lord Teddie is hilarious. And silly. He makes me giggle. And he's wonderful! The King ... I don't even know what to say. I'll touch on him again later in this review. Minister Fairweller, I knew there was something good about him. *smiles*
     All the princesses are so funny! From fiery Bramble, to baby Lily. They dance, and curtsy, and spy, and rebel. They cry, and bicker, and plan outlandish escapades.

I was so touched by the father/daughter relationships explored in this book. It's like this journey to love. To healing. To realization. People mess up and make mistakes. Fathers do. The twelve sisters are hurt and angry. They decide to rebel against the King, strict and demanding and indifferent as he is. Because he doesn't care about them! At first, you're angry with the King too, and feeling for the girls' hurt hearts. But as the story progresses, a different side is shown. I LOVE this journey to healing between a fumbling father and his many daughters. It hurt. It was hopeful. It was tentatively humorous. It was tender. Beautiful. (view spoiler).

The romances were perfection. Clean. And adorable. Old-fashioned. And soul deep. They made me laugh. They made me sigh. They made my heart nearly burst with warm, bubbly, happy emotions. <3 <3 <3
     I loved the King being all protective and fatherly. Throwing men out on their ear. XD

Onto a vastly darker note. As sweet, and bubbly, and humorous as Entwined is, it does have those scenes were the villain reigns. And the villain in this story is very evil and yucky. Though a lot of the gross, ghastly stories told and things the girls see are lies and illusions - they still make their point, and give you a little chill. (view spoiler) There's frightening magic in this story that the villain wields. And there's this "magic" of swearing on silver or swearing on blood that binds you to your oath. (The villain is the only one who swears on blood or uses magic). (view spoiler). So though the creepiness went much too far in my opinion, I still felt like, all in all, it made sense and it ended perfectly.
     But yes, big caution to younger readers and sensitive people. I was fine, but I hesitate to recommend it to my twelve and fifteen-year-old sisters, because they're not used of reading such ghastliness, and it's just not necessary to read, in my opinion! I will probably go through Entwined and black out, with a marker, some phrases and whatnot that I feel take away from the overall innocence and beauty of this story.

I almost felt there was an allegory or lesson to the whole villain and dancing theme. He was so darkly handsome. He talked so smooth. He lured them in, despite their inner hesitation. Also, they felt abandoned by their father, and so turned somewhere else for comfort. I feel like it's a big thing when girls, especially, don't feel loved by their father. It can have some ghastly consequences, and Entwined kind of showed that. Very interesting and thought-provoking.

What else can I say? Besides the creepiness that comes time and again, Entwined by Heather Dixon is an absolute DELIGHT. It's fairytale at perfection. I LOVE IT. *huggles book* Just everything. Just ... EEP! And the ending was loveliness in itself, with a few giggles and heart hiccups added in.

I don't know, my friends. This was just my kind of book. After reading it a second time, I adore it even more. <3


Quotes from Entwined by Heather Dixon:

"Royal Business; 
Strictly For The Young Gentleman Who Meets the Criteria -

A Riddle To Solve:

Where the Twelve Princesses of Eathesbury Dance At Night

As Well As Limited Acquaintance 

With The Princess Royale
Three Days' Stay In The Royal Palace
Will Be Granted.
The Food And Board Will Be Free.

Inquiries To Be Sent To His Royal Highness
Harold Wentworth The Eleventh of Eathesbury"


" 'Down with tyranny!' Bramble cried. 'Aristocracy! Autocracy! Monocracy! Other ocracy things! You are outnumbered, sir! Surrender!' "


" 'You look pretty, as always,' he said.

Azalea grinned, deciding not to remind him that the last times he had seen her, she had been soaked, frozen, unconscious, and a torn mess of the undead."


" 'Sir,' she called out. 'Lord Bradford.'

He turned. His eyes lit up, seeing Azalea.

'Thank you,' said Azalea.

Lord Bradford bowed deeply, removing his hat, which re-rumpled his hair. When he straightened, he was smiling, as crooked as his cravat, and Azalea couldn't help but smile back."


"The girl inhaled sharply at this last bit, the word 'father'. They leaned into Azalea's nightgown as Mr. Pudding, fumbling with his great ring of keys, locked the ballroom door with a click-click. Seeing the younger girls start to tear up, he gave them his lamp and promised to send biscuits and tea to their room, nearly crying himself. But he did not unlock the ballroom."


"She hated feeling helpless. It writhed in her stomach, choking her with thoughts of dancing the rest of her life in the arms of a gentleman who pushed her about and laughed when she stumbled or, worse, didn't even look at her at all. She wondered if she would be able to give the Soul's Curtsy, with all her heart and soul, to anyone, and the thought made her ill."


" 'Honestly, we don't kick or bite or throw potatoes at all our guests.'

A crooked smile touched Lord Bradford's lips.

'Your family has spirit," he said, taking his hat from Azalea. "I enjoyed the evening.'

'Well, yes, you've just come from a war,' said Azalea."


"The King smoothed the blanket on Thackeray's back. He opened his mouth, and shut it. Then he opened it again, and after a moment, said, 'You used to call me Papa, do you remember that?'

The question took Azalea aback.

'No,' she said."


" 'It is not a Christmas tree!' said the King, so firmly that all the girls stopped jumping about. 'This is a house of mourning. It is nothing more than a tree. I thought it would look nice. Inside. That is all.' "


" 'What happened?' said Clover, wetting a cloth in the basin, and dabbing Azalea's face.

'She had a sort of fit,' said the King. 'I think her underthings may be laced too tightly.'

All the girls, including Azalea, blushed brilliantly.

'Sir,' said Eve. 'You're not suppose to know about the U word!'

'Am I not? Forgive me.' "


" 'Are you all right?' he said.Water dripped down his face and long nose.

He's talking to you! her mind yelled. He's talking to you! Say something clever! Say something clever!

Azalea said, 'Mffloscoflphus?'

'The water is rather cold,' he said. He pulled her to the bank. Azalea chattered and shivered and coughed, and he continued asking her if she was all right. She wasn't. She was morbidly embarrassed,that's what she was."


"She wanted to give him toast. The sort that had melted butter and a bit of honey spread on top. It was a stupid thought, but there was something comforting about toast."


"All the girls joined in.

'I was thirteen last April and it rained on my birthday and I didn't even get to wear anything special -'

'We turned ten - just two months ago -'

'I usually get a book for my birthday - but - this year -'

'You forgot my birthday, too.'

'And mine.'

The girls looked miserable. The King opened his mouth, then shut it.

'Sir!' whined Lord Teddie. 'You forgot my birthday, too!'

Bramble gave a surprised laugh, then slapped her hand over her mouth, as though shocked at letting it out.

The tension broke. The girls laughed sheepishly, and Lord Teddie beamed. He probably did not have many ladies think him funny."


  1. I've had this novel on my shelf for what seems forever and still I've not read it. *sigh* Someday (as is my perpetual thing to say about long standing TBR books). ;)

    1. I know how it is, Rissi, having all kind of TBR books on your shelves forever. You must pick up Entwined soon though! ;) It's absolutely lovely! ^_^