Heather Dixon’s Entwined completely makes up for the disappointment of the last YA book I read. It was lovely; highly character-driven, with an interesting retelling of an unfamiliar fairy tale and a menacing villain.
Entwined reworks the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, with which I was fairly unfamiliar. Azalea and her eleven sisters love to dance- it’s the only outlet they have from “Royal Duties.” When their mother dies giving birth, however, they’re plunged into strict mourning; black dresses, silence, and absolutely no dancing.
Generations ago, Azalea’s ancestor, the Captain-General, overthrew the High King D’eathe, a sorcerer who, among other things, liked to murder his subjects and steal their souls (charming!). Over the centuries, most of his evil work has been purged from the kingdom and the castle, but pockets remain, hidden and unnoticed. One of these pockets leads Azalea to a hidden garden, where she and her sisters can dance every night, under the eyes of Keeper, a tortured soul imprisoned by the High King and long forgotten. But, as the book blurb says, “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.”
However, this isn’t just a fairy tale about twelve girls fighting an Evil Menace, which is what saves it from being “just another YA book.” One of my favorite plot points was the girls’ developing relationship with their father, who has been a distant figure all their lives. After their mother’s death, he immediately heads to the war front. The sisters see this as an abandonment of them (and it is), but they little realize how much he is struggling with the loss of his wife. He finds a chilly reception on his return, and the way the family reconnects was particularly touching. Of course, a YA novel wouldn’t be complete without a romance, and Entwined has not one, but three. Fret not, though; suitors and romance attempts provide some of the book’s most hilarious moments.
I got this for my Kindle when it was only $.99, but I’d even recommend that you pay the full $9.99 for it now; it’s that good.